Every time I walk into the Dekalb County Jail to teach yoga I have a major shift in perspective. My sense of gratitude is full and deep. I become REALLY grateful for the little things; like my watch (the inmates are not allowed to know what time it is), and my apple cinnamon candles that make my house smell nice, and a list of other things that many days I don’t give a second thought.
Jail is a rough place. It is loud, it doesn’t smell good, and it is full of people who don’t want to be where they are. So, when I walk into the women’s ward to practice an hour of yoga with “our ladies” (that’s what the other yoga teachers and I in the Jail Yoga Program at Kashi affectionately call them), it is always such a pleasant surprise when they walk into the room smiling ear to ear… ready to practice. They are hungry to learn and willing to dive in deeply. They don’t have anything to loose and nothing more “important” on a list of things to do. They want it. If only we all practiced without writing our grocery lists in savasana!
Today at the jail we practiced full boat (navasana), a core strengthening pose that will challenge even the most seasoned yogi. After we came out of the pose, they cheered for each other! They were shocked by their own courage to try something so new and felt good about themselves and loved how sweaty and warm the practice had gotten them. At the end of class I said, “Nasmaste” to them and prepared to hop up and leave. Not one of our ladies moved. They sat in deep meditation for minutes after the practiced ended. I saw true freedom in their peaceful faces and prayer hands. They are free and they are my teachers.