Prison Yoga and What It Means to Be Human

by Christine DeSadeleer Sep 22, 2010
There are some causes worth pulling ourselves out of a stupor.

Photo: Prana

Honestly, it’s taken a lot to inspire me recently. Call it “overwhelmness”, the fact that everyone is doing something to try and change all the crumminess and I can’t keep up, or the fact that a lot of the good fights are still being lost. I have to admit, I’ve been checking out a bit. People send me stuff about great new groups moving mountains, and my response is “meh.”

I guess I’m the perfect person to attend the Stewart/Colbert rally.

But I actually took the time the other day, when I was feeling particularly blasé about the world and needed a lift-me-up, to read a post Matador writer Joanna Haugen sent along. Entitled Prison Yoga, I pretty much knew right off the bat what the subject matter would entail.

The truth is the system is broken and we are not getting the rehabilitation we need to make it in the free world. Some of us see that we need to take our rehabilitation into our own hands if we’re going to make it. ~Prisoner at Mule Creek State Prison

Ah, yes. It also reminded me that:

The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world. There are 2.25 million people incarcerated in this country. According to a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2008, more than one in every 100 adults are now confined in a U.S. jail or prison. For certain ethnic groups the data is particularly alarming. Approximately 700,000 prisoners are released to society each year; 60% return to prison within 3 years. One of the primary reasons for this is that only a very few prisoners are provided meaningful programs, education or self-help resources to aid in their rehabilitation.

Yep, I was moved to read of the success of James Fox’s yoga program at San Quentin (a death-row jail for those who aren’t familiar). And the fact that after Fox wrote a book about yoga in prison, he received over 1,500 letters from inmates throughout the country requesting a copy. And yeah, even the well-contrived quote about yoga healing the pain a prisoner had previously blotted with drugs and alcohol got me.

They are trying to raise a relatively small amount of money to give out a lot of books to prisoners. Help out if you can.

While you’re at it, check out the Smithsonian’s Human Origin’s Initiative (thanks to Trips Editor Carlo Alcos for passing this one along). They’re asking the question, “What does it mean to be human?” You can quickly and easily submit your response, and read through some of the cool answers that have already been submitted.

Alright, back to my daze.

Any other body-mind-spirit causes worth adding? Share them in the comments below.

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