Prison must be a stressful environment -- especially if you're innocent! Sure, you can blow off steam with weights, or by the occasional shiv fight, but non-practicing Austin attorney, but practicing Buddhist, Jim Freeman wants to take inmates to a higher level -- through the power of yoga.
Freeman told the Texas Lawyer's wonderful Tex Parte Blog about his goal to launch a yoga program in every Texas prison, saying, "The people I want to help are the ones who have been thrown away, the ones that are in there forever. It's a desire to improve life inside that pushes my button."
Freeman founded Conviction Yoga (whose Web site mysteriously wasn't working for us earlier this week) and plans for it to be a nonprofit that, through fundraising, "will support prison yoga teachers across Texas," according to the blog. "For now, three days per week, he drives around the state to towns with 'clusters' of prisons. He can visit three prisons in one 16-hour day."
Sessions usually kick off with "Sun Salutation," which "starts with a person extending his arms to the side and overhead before bowing to touch his toes."
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Of course, this can be a tight fit for inmates in the more economy-size cells.
Freeman told Tex Parte that he always asks the inmates, "'What does your cell look like?' Some of them have big cells; some of them have very small cells. The front of your yoga mat is bars, and the back of your yoga mat is where the sink and toilet is."
He said that yoga could potentially be an emotional release for the prisoners, and help them build "the ability to have compassion."
Kudos to Freeman for thinking outside the box. We wish him the best of luck. Now we must go practice our downward-facing dog.