Senior teacher Devaki is leading our karma yoga program at the Dekalb County Jail, which is part of their “Options for Living and Learning” program.
Our yoga teachers have been volunteer teaching at DeKalb County Jail since January 2008. The yoga classes were initially offered to a small group of female inmate participating in the 90-day STOP (Substance Abuse Treatment Offenders Program). The program is intended to reduce recidivism by breaking the cycle of substance abuse, crime, and incarceration. In addition, it intended to educate consumers on the complex social, personal, and family needs, which have interfered with their ability to live a healthy and constructive life outside of the criminal justice system.
Beginning in August 2013, our teachers started using Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s book The 11 Karmic Spaces. Each week a teacher would take a chapter from the book and incorporate it into class. The teachers found that the women loved the book and began using the practices in the book on their own! Through coordination with Swami Dhumavati of Kashi Ashram in Florida, a donation program was created to purchase copies of Ma’s book for the inmates.
In April 2015, the Dekalb County Jail kicked off an 8-week program offering various courses, including Writing, Brain Games, Reading Circle, How to… (Life Skills), Logic Skills and Yoga to the general population of female inmates.
This pilot program was a huge success, and the demand for our yoga classes was so great that in July 2015 we started offering two classes on Saturday mornings, and the program also expanded to include the men in the STOP program.