Rikers Yoga

riker DOC

Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.

― Thích Nhất HạnhTeachings on Love

On some days I am overwhelmed by the excitement of a group of students. But this week I was humbled by the power of a simple act. It’s what yoga is all about, but it’s easy to get caught up in the shapes, like the joy in tree or the power of warrior I.

This week wasn’t about poses, it was about breathing and self-love. 

Susan (not her real name) raised her hands up in the air to say hello. Touching isn’t permitted so this is how she can give a hug. Susan lives in a dorm by herself after spending time in solitary. Last week, when I came to do yoga she was doing some work and wasn’t available. Yoga had to be postponed for another week due to a scheduling conflict but the officer who came to get her said that it would be no problem if we spent a few minutes together meditating.

I was grateful.

Sitting on bolsters we began by breathing. Though we only had a few minutes I slow down the pace of dropping into meditation. We bring awareness first to the inhale noticing how it moves through the nostrils. We explore how the air fills the lungs. I talk about the lift of the chest. Susan gently drops into breathing. I extend the pauses in between each cue. I can see that she is smoothing out the edges to her breath.

There is an easiness about her spirit yet at the same time I sense fragility.

The light coming into the dining area casts a glow that makes it feel like a school cafeteria. Susan in her t-shirt and sweatpants looks like a teenager though I have no idea of her age. I see her chest soften more with each inhale and exhale. A lovely smile floats across her face during the meditation. I can see that she is in place that makes her feel peaceful. The transition back from meditation is just as soft as it was entering. When she opens her eyes she breathes deeply and smiles.

“I felt like I was flying.”

This is what it’s about. I could go on and on about the power of meditation (And in other posts, of course I will). But on this day Susan’s comment says it all. We spent five minutes together and she was able to teach herself to fly.

That is worth repeating. In five minutes she was able to teach herself how to fly.

Namaste y’all.


Liberation Prison Yoga has launched our indiegogo campaign!!! Click here to see the video and read more about our mission.

No yoga. No peace. Know yoga. Know peace. 





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