Prison TTC: Hatha yoga class – They are students, we are teachers

Before starting the course the main question haunting me was: “how is my mind going to react? Will I be able to avoid judging them for what they did?” Despite my deep motivation, I couldn’t help but wonder how the beautiful theory will face reality; how I would be able to apply here the Vedantic concept of “we are all One”.

But as soon as the hatha yoga class starts, there are absolutely no questions nor doubts: I am assisting the class as I would for any other group. Starting by observing the students practicing, watching their posture, their face, getting to know them on the mat. Continuing with adjusting them, bringing their feet together, straightening their back, helping them to understand better the asana (yoga posture) or the pranayama (breathing exercise). I have absolutely no hesitation in touching them, it feels completely natural: they are regular students and I am a teacher doing my duty.

Soon another preconceived idea gives way. The second day, as I’m adjusting one of the students I suddenly realize that most of them have probably not been touched gently or talked softly for years, if not decades. If until there I have been thinking of myself as a potential attraction – being the only woman in the course – I realize that what they need probably the most is affection and loving kindness. I begin seeing the inner child in them and I’m immensely grateful to have the chance to live this experience and to feel this compassion.

Yes they are responsible for committing crimes but they are now paying their debt – and when you are in the prison and start imagining spending years there it seems inconceivable. Life circumstances probably contributed leading them to act and the point is not to search for an explanation but to look at the future. Despite – or thanks to? – the circumstances, they have the opportunity to undergo a deep, positive transformation, growing and discovering there true nature. This yoga teachers training helps planting seeds of light within them, so that they continue growing this light and share it with others, inside or outside the prison’s walls.

Also read about our first day of the TTC in prison.