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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just breathe

It's so funny, the yoga room in the jail is right next to the laundry room and this morning as they were rounding up the boys to come to class, some of the boys said, "no I don't want to go to yoga." Some of the other boys said they wanted to come and as they marched in, I joked with the fact that I can hear through the door----they laughed and all filed onto their mats and took their seats---one of the guards took yoga with us today for the first time and he did great--the kids liked to see how hard it was for him and found a strength in themselves since they could do poses that maybe he couldn't. Even though competition does not come into yoga, it is powerful for the boys to see the positive strides they have made.

Last week, we talked of the book Dharma Punx about a man Noah Levine who was incarcerated as a youth, and found that meditation changed his life in the system and through addiction--they kids were excited to hear about meditation and the benefits that this person found. We sat for 5 minutes today as i talked them through watching their breath enter their body and watching their breath exit their bodies----they sat the entire 5 mintues in stillness---we had a small discussion afterwards, and one boy said he felt peaceful and they want to have 5 minutes of meditation every class----this is exciting!!!! I will need to spend more time with my teachers to bring them the full benefits of meditation---I am only scratching the surface with my own meditation practice.

As I was leaving the social worker told me that she had a boy who was frustrated and she asked him what coping skills he was going to use---he said I'm going to my room to do yoga and just breathe. I had large inner smile and was humbled by the lineage of yoga. It's amazing to me how powerful yoga and understanding of breath is--how most of the time we take for granted the breathing that we do---and how focusing attention on such an involuntary action can change the course of your actions. One hour is never enough time but maybe this summer when they don't have class we can add more time to yoga---I'm hopeful.

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