3 Lessons I Learned from Teaching Yoga In Belize Central Prison
If you’re like me, you might have found yourself on a yoga mat for a variety of reasons: anxiety, learning to be with yourself, exercise, spending time with friends, or just trying to do that cool pose you saw on Instagram. There really is no wrong way to lead yourself to the important practice of yoga. Rolling out my mat has come to be a life-changing element to my journey. After years of my practice, with periodic breaks, I became a yoga teacher in 2016. In the fall of 2017, I decided to take my practice across borders and teach in prison in Belize.
Now, my journey didn’t start out with such an impactful location to teach. Like most stories, it started with a friend. She asked me if I would be interested in telling her friend’s story, Michelle Williams, who runs a nonprofit in Belize called Rhythm of Change. ROC provides yoga to low-income areas and aims to heal Belize with the practice of yoga and meditation. Before I knew it, my bags were packed, and I was off to change the world.
Here are the three most important lessons I learned:
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways Yoga Is Like A Good Friend
Yoga Truly Does Change the Way Our Brains Work
The most common response I received when asking participants how their yoga practice has made their lives better, is that each person feels less reactive. No matter what might have lead the women to their time spent in prison, the practice of yoga movement and most importantly breath has allowed them to slow down, reflect and pause before they react. This has led to a decrease in altercations and issues among the women in Belize’s prison.
People Everywhere are Fundamentally the Same
As I’m sitting in a small, hot office in Belize Central Prison, I’m thinking to myself, “This is scary, amazing and so unforeseen.” All of the emotions are present as the CEO of the prison walks in to talk to myself and members of ROC. Then he says, “I need to shoot this email off real quick.” At that moment, I giggle to myself, as this simple phrase reminds me that we all have work to do, we’re all a little too busy and I’m able to connect with the CEO in a much more relaxed way.
My Life Can be Much More Expansive
I never saw myself becoming a yoga teacher, but once I graduated, it made so much sense to me that my life had taken me down this path. After years of struggling with anxiety and weight gain from unhappiness, I was able to take those lessons learned (and still learning) into my classroom to help others. As I shared my story of finding yoga with the women in prison, we were all able to relate with one another on how we found ourselves on our yoga mats. This opportunity lead me to see that I can touch so many lives all over the world and this for me is just the beginning.
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