There are many times that I "forget" that when I'm teaching at JDC, that I'm actually TEACHING AT JDC---the room that we occupy when it is filled with kids transforms from the training room to a real sanctuary of sweetness. There are times, more than I would like to admit where my mouth speaks before my brain can stop me.....Thursday was one of those times, and as the boys were filing in to their mats, I asked "so is everyone excited for Christmas"--as I realized what I had said and began to feel myself shrink into the carpet--one of the kids said yeah I'm excited, and the other boys said they were excited, and I could not wait to hear what was all the excitement--did the jail stop serving bologna sandwiches on Christmas--did the gluteous oatmeal morf into some kind of special Christmas breakfast--what could be so exciting. One of the boys said, we get a visitor on Christmas--the words I AM AN IDIOT clanging in my head--"Cool I responded, who are you most excited to see?" And without hesitation, the one boy who felt that yoga was for girls in the beginning and is now so incredible at the poses and helps me so much to keep the boys focused on the theme--said "the person who visits us all the time." I was excited that the boys could see their families, I can not imaging how hard it would be without them.............and then another boy said, "Don't you want to know who comes to see us all the time?" Feeling like I was the only one in the room, not getting the joke--everyone of the boys everyone, looked me dead in the eye and said "YOU!" Half of the boys in the room told me right there that I have been their only visitor. And it happened, I completely lost it and tears streamed down my face--I never thought of myself as a visitor, I mean I'm the yoga teacher, half the time, I'm convinced that they would be happy to be out of their cell if they were learning poetry, but a visitor--that's big time in jail. The boys told me that in the 8 months that a few have them have been in jail, I've been the only person to see them and that coming every week has made it so that it's like a visit--"we hang".
Could it be that all this time, I have missed what was going on with the yoga--yes they are getting a yoga class, but it has morphed into something so much more than class, the boys know that every week without fail and irregardless of holidays that someone is going to be there to spend time with them and be genuinly concerned for how they are doing.
WOW! and I still sit here, one day later and feel WOW! I could not express to the boys how much these classes mean to me--I mean imagine doing something wrong, and being tossed aside like a piece of garbage--just waiting to get out and having no one NO ONE come and tell you that they are thinking of you. I believe that the reason these boys end up lifetime criminals is because the jail becomes their family-they do not know any different, and that they are the safest when they feel they are home in their cell with their metal bed and orange flip flop shoes. All I've thought about since Thursday is how can this be happening --how can we allow these kids to feel like they don't even warrant a visit from thier family--their family the one place that they should feel protected and to feel more secure in jail is really hard to understand.
As I write this it hits me and I wonder how many times we as yoga practioners allow the visitor of Yoga to enter our hearts. I don't mean, go to class and do the asana, I mean allow the visitor of Yoga to enter the cave of our heart and spend time with us. There are times, when the yoga just feels soooo good that you never want it to end, and that is when the Yoga enters your heart. When the breath and the movement flow together and there you are with your visitor sharing one breath, one movement, one heart.