The Clarke County Jail in Athens, Georgia, has recently turned to yoga to help their inmates in reducing prison stress. Each week, a small group of female inmates would meet up to with a certified instructor, who will assist them in bending, stretching and breathing away tension as well as anxiety. Jail officials are starting to see quite a significant progress in the attitudes and behavior of these women since classes began a couple of months ago.
“What I’ve seen is there are not as many altercations in the female population. The yoga gives them relaxation techniques and Circle of Life provides a forum where they can talk about whatever’s going on. It provides an outlet,” stated Sgt. Angela McAllister, a supervisor in the jail’s Classification Group, which is in charge of inmate discipline and investigating complaints. So far, there have been three groups who have already finished the six-week course and another group is currently in the process.
There are quite a few participants who have been in and out of jail for most of their adult lives. These are the ones who are looking for ways to change their behaviors that keep getting them locked up. “This class is very emotional. It’s for your mind, and when your mind relaxes all of it goes away; all the yelling and screaming, the door slamming, all of it,” explained Sharika Freeman, a resident who is serving her time for doing drugs. For Sharika, she still has five months remaining out of her twelve months sentence. In fact, she has also took what she has learnt during the yoga class to practice it several times each day in her cell. This aids her “to get away from all the noise and ruckus.”
Earlier in the year, an intern who was working at the jail spoke to officials about Michelle Arington, a certified yoga instructor who taught a class he was in. “I was pumping gas one morning when I ran into (the intern) who said he was just thinking about me and wondered if I would be interested in teaching yoga at the jail. He told me about how they had a conversation at the jail about the effectiveness of yoga and meditation for people who are experiencing chronic stress and (post-traumatic stress disorder). The focus of my teaching has been helping people suffering from anxiety and depression, and studies have shown that among inmates, especially females, more than 60 percent are suffering from PTSD. Now, the medical community really is now valuing and understanding how effective yoga can be in recovery and controlling symptoms,” said Michelle, who jumped at the opportunity that was given to her. The rest of the story can be read here.
Regardless of your age, health condition and/or physical fitness, yoga always has something for everyone. At OMG Yoga, we believe that you would need to give it a try in order to experience the benefits it has to offer. We have a variety of yoga classes for you to choose from as well.