Teaching Yoga for inmates has been shown to drastically reduce rates of reincarceration all over the world.
Most people turn to criminal acts or violence and even drug addiction a recent study shows, because of only one reason. Disconnection. They were unsupported in some way, treated badly, or felt lack in fulfillment of their basic human needs. It's an easy response to such conditions to shut down emotionally, to protect from further emotional suffering. However...this numbing of our heart's compass leads people to be able to commit unfortunate deeds with little or no remose, complicating their karma, and further isolating themselves from support networks.
It's sad too, but in many modern countries the prison system is also a mutli billion dollar industry, in which large corporations influence the political and legislation system, push laws that make it easier to detain or imprison people for more and more things which means they can build more and more prisons. Inmates are also employed for the pathetic wage of nearly 1-4$ per day which means more big profits for the industry selling their work even to companies like Starbucks, Boeing, and Victoria's Secret. See how much nonsense we stop supporting when we buy small industry, locally crafted products? This practice is also a threat to other established and emmerging industries where people could lose their jobs as they go to the cheaper labor of prison inmates.
Yoga has had such great effect to keep people out of prison because it reconnects them to themselves. Our emotional and physical bodies are very connected, and when one starts to move the body through the challenges of practices, we ellicit emotional responses... but we do it without the external trigger which cause those emotions. By persistent practice, we gain understanding and mastery over those situations which caused the emotions and are able to direct our lives with compassion and empathy. All people are our brothers and sisters and where and when we can, we should provide them the connection that heals old hurts and brings a brighter future.
When I have time I go to teach AcroYoga to the inmates on Koh Samui. I have to teach in my limited Thai language and we get by! A few other of my friends who teach have also been and many of the students there have really taken to the practice. AcroYoga is especially amazing because it brings even more that element of human connection that gives the human spirit strength.
George is the founder of Sajeeva Yoga School, and a practitioner and teacher on the journey of exploring life, truth, purpose, and
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