People ask me about a dvd or a book about yoga to go deeper into their practice. I found it. Go to the Prison Yoga Project website to learn about what they do and then buy the book “Yoga; A Path for Healing & Recovery”. And without a second thought buy one for a prisoner too. The book gives you a concise and deeper understanding of yoga philosophy and several well-rounded, good practices for you to do on your own. It is a great guide book for yoga that is direct, down to earth, and easy to read. By buying one for a man or woman living in prison right now, you are offering an awesome gift of kindness, grace, and love.
It was written by James Fox, the founder of Prison Yoga Project, who has been teaching in San Quentin prison in California for the last 10 years. He wrote the book for students in his class at San Quentin so they could go deeper into their practice and maintain it once they get out of prison. Word about his book spread (as men were transferred to other prisons across the country) and he has now sent 1,000’s of books across the country to prisoners who request it, or when it’s requested to be sent to someone by a loved one.
On the website you can read for yourself the quotes from some of the men and women who have received the book. The work he is doing is really incredible.
This past weekend I went to a teacher training with James Fox to learn about teaching yoga in prisons. It was a phenomenal weekend, but I can’t say I really learned anything rare or bedazzling about yoga, itself. He doesn’t have a magic-prison-yoga routine that is all that different than the classes I teach. What he does have that I think is so very rare, so inspiring, and incredible to witness is his sincere, committed, humble, and consistent compassion for the men he serves in prison. He embodies that compassion in offering this unique opportunity to steal themselves away from prison and rest in the quiet of their own breath. He probably wouldn’t describe it in such sappy, shmaltzy terms. He would just tell you straight up, that everyone deserves to know a few moments of peace, quiet, and grace in the midst of the horrific and perpetual nightmare of prison.
It seems he has so much compassion for the men he serves because he “gets it”. He has dug through (and continues to dig through) the uglies of his own shtuff and has come to a place of compassion and forgiveness for himself. He is able to offer such bold compassion towards others from the deep well of grace he knows in his own life. Such compassion can’t be learned from books and lectures, but is earned & developed in a daily practice of getting plain old honest about yourself.
If the practice of yoga has brought you any clarity, relief, vibrancy; I encourage you to buy a book to be sent to a man or woman in prison. I can only imagine the difference it might make in their world and ours too.
And please come to the next Daily Bread Yoga retreat on Saturday, April 20th, 9a.m.-noon, at Philo Presbyterian Church. $20 donation. The topic will be Compassion; on & off the mat. You’ll want to be there. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. (This might be the last retreat I do before the fall…baby comes in mid-June!)
peace on your head,