KUNDALINI YOGA CLASSES FOR INCARCERATED WOMEN
Meet the seva of Kundalini Yoga classes for women in prisons in Peru, an initiative that was born in 2009 and offers inmates in Lima prisons yoga practice as a tool to promote healthcare and provide support to deal with freedom deprivation.
PROJECT NAME: Kundalini Yoga classes for women in prisons
DESCRIPTION: Kundalini Yoga and meditation practices for inmates in Peru.
PEOPLE SERVED: Women incarcerated in Peru prisons
STARTING YEAR: 2009
PERSON IN CHARGE: Abhai Jiwan Kaur
IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT THE PROJECT, PLEASE CONTACT:
For over twelve years, the Kundalini Yoga classes for women in prisons in Peru seva project has offered the inmates at Chorrillos (ex Santa Monica) and Chorrillos Annex (Maximum Security) the possibility to practice Kundalini Yoga weekly. It all started with an initiative from a group of Kundalini Yoga instructors to share this technique with the inmates.
"For several months, we took all the necessary steps to start this seva. It wasn't easy, but we were convinced that the enormous benefits of yoga would be very important in these women's lives, as they indeed have been." *
Since then, a group of ten sevadars on average, all women, continue to act, offering yoga and meditation as tools to support the inmates to deal in the best way possible with freedom deprivation, the longing for their families and the feeling of belonging to a society that does not take them into account.
In the conversation with sevadars it is clear that this is an initiative that stands out for its teamwork, perseverance and commitment. Because of their hard work, they have managed to keep going through all these years, overcoming and adapting to all kinds of challenges, including, more recently, the pandemic.
"It was very difficult to halt the project at the beginning of the pandemic, just when we felt that the inmates were in more need of what we were offering. We looked for other ways to support them during this period, for example by providing toiletries, since these are items made available by their families and they were unable to receive such items when visits were suspended at the beginning of the pandemic."
"We cannot say that we stopped our activities during the pandemic," says another participant, "because it was a time of waiting and contemplation that we also took to our advantage to complete a manual we had already designed to offer the inmates so that they could lead their practice more autonomously."
Today, in alliance with INPE (Peruvian National Penitentiary Institute), they were able to adapt yoga classes to the online format, thus extending their services to inmates at prisons throughout Peru: prisons of Iquitos, Arequipa and Moquegua. They also began offering online classes to inmates at San Juan de Lurigancho prison, both in Lima.
There are countless ways in which this Seva occurs and impacts the reality of those it serves. There are inmates who have been practicing Kundalini Yoga for over ten years, especially those with longer sentences. Others, like some prison inmates with minor sentences, share with us how this has given them resilience, an impulse to deal with this reality in a "more gentle" way, or even the prospect of moving on...
In the end, all sevadars affirm with gratitude and humility that they receive much more than they give, in addition to gaining awareness and personal growth.
"This Seva allowed me to reflect on what we mean by freedom and confinement and ask myself why there are prisons in our society."
"As long as these spaces (prisons) exist, we are doing badly as a society; and until we can end them, it is necessary to care for the dignity of all beings who inhabit them."
If you want to support this Project, contact Abhai Jiwan Kaur, at:
*Memories of 10 Years of Kundalini Yoga. Women's prisons, Lima.