One of the things we focus on at Liberation is making sure that the nurturers get nurtured. We check in with our teachers after their classes; they have an appointed supervisor they can call with any issues or to share about their experience, we have a Facebook group and monthly teacher meetings, all to ensure that everyone gets the support they need. As far as programs, we've continuously had classes for staff, although these are hard to maintain when people need to take their lunch hour inside the jail to get their yoga class in. Last week I taught the nursing staff on Rikers Island and at MDC. They were extremely happy to receive self care with our trauma informed yoga class. I encouraged everyone to do what feels right for their bodies, and not necessarily follow what others are doing. Sitting through a few standing poses, one of the women jokingly asked if she was doing it right. I answered that in yoga, the ability to listen to your body and heed its messages makes you advanced - not how deep you go in the poses. We had a lot of fun. I really appreciate these lovely women's kindness towards their incarcerated patients in an environment that is stressful for everyone. They want a regular yoga class. We are going to do our best to make that happen.
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@liberationprisonyoga is a community. The teachers who volunteer, the members of the board, our donors, sponsors and partners become a part of this work. The folks in this picture embody our model of unconditional acceptance. I'm so honored to know, learn from and laugh with them. Class was a team effort embracing playfulness, movement, breath work and heart opening awareness. Even people who didn't take class were involved cheering, commenting and offering genuine encouragement. One student said 'I really needed class today. It was kind of a rough week.' Margherita ended class with a small singing bowl and invited anyone who wanted to take the bowl and share something that they wanted for themselves or for the world. And while everyone said something that was full of insight and love there was one student who stopped us in our tracks. She said 'I don't have a lot to say. But I do have one word. Freedom.' Freedom.
I'm grateful for my Liberation Tribe, the students and this work.
May we all be free. #yoga#yogaforall#liberationprisonyoga#prisonyoga#liberation#freedom#mayallbeingsbefreefromsuffering#meditation#mindfulness#speakingyourtruth
Today was a day of wiggles, bubbles and haiku at Manhattan Detention Complex.
We practice in the common area and there is always a lot going on during class, but we managed to wiggle and dance and move and breath and create little pockets of time when things felt ok enough to keep our attention to the circle of yoga mats rather than to the hectic surroundings.
We created a bubble for ourselves and conjured it up in meditation, a space to be safe in, and light, and to find a home in this body for a moment. It seems we are always out there in the world, engaging, doing, and it's often hard to sustain our own space from outside invasions. In jail you have to constantly be aware of the surroundings, because things keep shifting, the word I think of is ephemeral, and if you're not ready you'll pay the consequences.
As we were getting ready to leave a fight broke and we got stuck in the officers’ “bubble”, waiting for things to settle so we could leave. That bubble is built with the same intent of keeping one safe and separated enough from their surroundings that they can choose when to engage and yet the quality of it is so different: we build concrete bubbles out of fear all the time and lose our own inherent ability to BE safe spaces for ourselves.
The inmates had haikus hanging on their wall, that they wrote. They all spoke of dreams and death and love and life. They spoke of us. This is for them.
Softly ripped apart
This world is me, too
If you don't have your ticket for the Bo Forbes event now is the time. Only a limited number remain!
Not in NY? Perhaps you could purchase a ticket for a friend who'd love this kind of experience.
Change is possible.
Invest in it by joining us for Bo Forbes' special guest lecture on April 20th. All proceeds go to Liberation Prison Yoga. Please visit our website for tickets. liberationprisonyoga.com
You don't want to miss out on this opportunity to learn from Bo Forbes. Please support us in our mission by signing up to this truly special event. Visit our website to make sure you don't miss out, space is limited. liberationprisonyoga.com
Fifth week of teaching one men's dorm at Rikers Island, and we had one minute of absolute peaceful silence during meditation. A beautiful young man who instantly got Ujjai breathing right, and now calms the whole room down with his breaths, commented that he definitely is going to continue with yoga when he gets out. "Some of the things I learned, like how to relax with the breath, and how to relieve the pain in my neck and shoulders, and the different stretches, is helpful. But what you said about the inner peace and finding your true self, that's what I want!" If you like what we do, please like this post.
Photo: Lee-Anne Olwage, photograph of the Prison Freedom Project at the Pollsmoor Prison in S. Africa http://www.iol.co.za/weekend-argus/yoga-rehabilitation-for-pollsmoor-inmates-2080072
Workshop in progress, at the bright, beautiful and brand new yoga studio Bowery Yoga in NYC. We had the most beautiful discussion about privilege yesterday. We expected it could be controversial, but those with the privilege simply listened. Our workshops are a glimpse in what the future can be, when feelings are understood, and compassion reigns. It's not paradise, because the pain is felt, but it is a lot more peaceful.
Hands up for #thechancetoheal
Image from @brescullark
According to the ACLU more than one million women are behind bars or under the control of the criminal justice system. Women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985. #thechancetoheal
Inmates released from state prisons have a five-year recidivism rate of 76.6%. No matter what road leads us to that place, innocent or guilty of the crime, if we arrive in a state of pain, we all deserve the chance to heal.
Statistics from the Bureau of Justice
Photo by Suzanne Kreiter from the Boston Globe