Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On the benefits of having a yoga practice when you work in prison

Greetings loyal readers! It's your friendly neighborhood prison librarian back again with the intention to be more mindful of writing more posts to keep this blog interesting.  Today's topic is the importance of having a yoga practice to maintain your sanity while working in prison. Yoga is popular as a workout but it is also a great tool for changing your mindset and that, in my opinion, is the number one most important coping mechanism you need behind bars.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with yoga, here is a great article to get you started learning about all your yoga options. I prefer vinyasa because I really like to feel like I am getting a workout and when I am focused on my breath and movement I am not worrying about anything else. I can also take that focus and use it when I am feeling overwhelmed and just re-center and focus on the task at hand.
Yoga has also helped me cultivate a mindset of service. When my focus is what I can do for others, I am much happier because even if they don't immediately appreciate what I am doing, it makes me feel better to do it. I think the meaning of life is finding happiness through helping others and there are few better places to help others than prison.
In my facility there are even yoga classes for the offenders. I haven't been to one so I don't know how popular they are but one clerk is always promoting it in the library and our yoga books are frequently on hold. Our old warden was a huge proponent of yoga as a positive leisure activity, so hopefully the new regime will stay on that bandwagon.
When I first started in prison, for some reason I caught the attention of the staff on the Emergency Response Team. They wanted me to join, but I was unable to do the required 2 pull-ups because my upper body strength was not awesome. Now, after 2 years of yoga practice I am "stacked" and can do at least 2 pull-ups. I am still not going to join the team because I actually like being a librararian and don't want to be pulled away from the library for activations for half the month, but the point is that yoga gave me the strength to lift my body weight up by my hands not just once but at least twice.
If you are skeptical about yoga, you don't have to go to a studio at first. You Tube has many free yoga videos to watch so you can get the hang of it. Personally I love going to the studio both for the adjustments which help me do the poses better but also for the inspirational things the teachers say. Powerful words are powerful for a reason and the universe gives you what you need when you need it. If you are feeling frustrated with your position in life, no matter where you are, open your mind and go to yoga. You may be sore the next day but you will not regret it. Until next time!

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