There is a common thread which runs throughout each of our yoga classes for incarcerated teens at Lima Detention Center. Once what the kids commonly refer to as a "yoga high" is achieved, they invariably express an intense interest to continue their practice outside of the facility. They ask about studios in their area as well as the cost of classes. Many additional queries center around how they could train to become yoga instructors when they grow up.
While this is encouraging in and of itself and speaks loudly in support of the work Transformation Yoga Project is doing within the juvenile justice system, it also begs additional questions. How can the yoga community support these teenagers as they transition from receiving the benefits of yoga service while in the care of children and youth services to actively pursuing a real world yoga practice as young adults? How can we make yoga more accessible to underserved populations once they've been released back into society?
As practitioners of this amazing practice, we know all too well the mind/body/spirit benefits of yoga. We are living examples of the positive impact it can have upon a person. You can help promote our work by attending Namas Day and contributing a mat, block, or other yoga-related supply to TYP's drive at our table; these will be used in our classes. And right now, you can also do something as simple as donate the cost of one class which could do so much to change the trajectory of a life.
Strong partnerships within the community, such as the ones we have with Tula Software and Enso, are key. We need additional leaders and studio owners in the area to throw open the doors to these kids, to offer not only class cards but encouragement. These young people need mentors and support in order to connect to their highest truth and unfetter themselves of the chains, both physical and metaphorical, which have held them down for so long. The fact that they are facing an uphill challenge to get their lives back on track is inescapable.
So, I pose this final question as a challenge: What can YOU do?