Before I begin, I am compelled to thank everyone who helped me keep steady on this path for my kids, there have been bumps in the road, there have been gale force winds trying to sway me away from JDC, and there have been bright beautiful flowers who are the reason I keep digging deeper into the depths of my heart. I must however thank my teacher Karen who's unwavering belief in this process of transformation that Yoga really takes you on. I have been blessed with great amazing teaching from Karen, and because of her being my anchor, I have had the ability to shine the light of awareness on the children of JDC whose lives may or may not be touched but whose hearts for the moments we are together are undoubtedly full of their goodness.
On Wednesday night I had a class of 40 boys, many boys who have been with me on and off my entire time at JDC, and of course new boys-- scared, and wondering what the Hell does Yoga have to do with jail.
One of my longtime students, who is quiet, reserved, plainly he is broken-- he makes no eye contact and has not looked at me for 18 months-- not one time, he is scared of everything but mostly himself-- came up to me after class-- he asked to speak to me and one of the guards was clearly nervous about this-- this boy speaks to no one. After a long pause of counting the rows of boards in the floor, he looked up at me-- not just at me but inside me and he said "Jen, thank you for coming here, thank you because my dad died, and this Christmas my mom is dying, and I'm here-- and this class helps me forget that everything in my life is falling apart." I couldn't speak, I looked at him for it felt like an hour-- I held his heart in my eyes. He continued, " that music you play about Ghandi (MC Yogi) Be the change you want the world to be, I say that over and over because I want to be the change, do you think Yoga can help me?" Of course, I whispered holding back a flood of tears. "Will you keep coming here, because when my mom dies, I have no one else who will come, please keep coming here, he said. Of course I whipsered there is no place I would rather teach--- He said, " with this class I think i can change at least in here, it's safe in here." And then he hugged me-- not the ususal jailhouse hug, but a hug that felt like he tried to melt into my arms and be safe, secure, and vulnerable. He held me so tight, I could not breathe, but I did not let go, I held him until he let go and the guard took him away-- back to his cell.
Thank you to my friend Beth M who gave me this CD by MC Yogi to try and bridge the gap between yoga and hip hop and to try and reach these boys-- Beth comes with me every class in that CD, she is a part of my teaching, all of my strength for these kids comes from the people in my life. Hugs to everyone of you-- Hugs!