Rikers Island Yoga

IMG_1765

I had to practically beg the CO on post at building 7 to let me in. He kept asking if I was sure I was in the right place. Seriously. He asked four times if I was sure that I was there to teach yoga. He said yoga like it was the craziest thing he’s ever heard.

I’m guessing the joke was teaching yoga in building 7 seems like a bad idea. After all, they are the ‘trouble makers’. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard comments like this. In my head I was full of non-yoga scathing snark that would make him cry. On the outside I smile and say ‘Yoga is for everyone. I bet you would love it.’
Over time I’m hoping my outside voice matches my inside one. Baby steps, yo. Baby steps. 
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. When I walked into Rosie’s (RMSC) I heard people saying it was a crazy day. With that kind of talk, tension is the watchword.
Tension found.
On the fourth floor I didn’t have to wait long for people and had 12 students ready for yoga. Paris (not her real name) said, ‘We need yoga today. There was a search early this morning. Everyone is a little tense.’
Movement combined with a guided meditation is a great way to get students to woosah. We moved through a gentle warm-up and built to doing modified sun salutations over and over. Forward folds let go of anxiety.
And then…. 
Another search team came into the dorm. Word was that the warden was also on the floor. The search was specific and everyone was moved to where we were practicing. The whispering was deafening. Class though remained fairly relaxed and we had our guided meditation despite the commotion. One woman said she couldn’t focus but I told her to stay with my voice instead of listening to what was being said behind her. I watched her shoulders soften.
After closing class- most of them jumped up to get the scoop. As I made my way out a captain said that everyone loves the yoga and she’s glad that they have it.
This is a pretty big deal. Lots of officers mention how women like the yoga and while I get smiles and nods from captains this is the first time one has said something positive about it.
Maybe it was because the warden was on the premises. Maybe it was because the search was happening. But the yogi in me believes she said something because it works.
I bumped into four other teachers who all said they had some powerful moments in their classes.
Like I said, the yogi in me believes this works.
Until next week.
Namaste y’all.
Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Rikers Island Yoga

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s