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I never leave home without my Manduka! My mat has traveled the world - Hawaii, Costa Rica, Bali... and more states then I can count. Practicing on my Manduka feels like coming home... even when I'm thousands of miles away.

-Bethany Orheim
Del Mar, CA

Giving Back

January 15th, 2013

Yoga at San Quentin State Prison

We recently donated mats to San Quentin Prison, to help with their rehabilitation efforts. Jasmine, who teaches their yoga classes, has shared her insights on how beneficial yoga can be for the inmates:
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As yogis we can directly addresses our country's systemic social problems with violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and our shockingly high rate of incarceration. Yoga has and will be used to address these issues on a broader scale--I can see it happening before my eyes.

I serve as a clinical mental health social worker as my primary role at San Quentin. In addiction to providing mental health treatment, I started a yoga and stress reduction program within the mental health department. I teach yoga classes to groups of 10-15 inmates twice a week in a small classroom in the basement of the hospital.

These reception inmates in particular are in "protected custody" which means they are separated from the general public for safety reasons. This could mean the inmates fall under any any of the following categories: those with enemy concerns, gang drop outs, gay/transgender inmates, etc. Due to the nature of their safety concerns these inmates tend to be more vulnerable and fearful of their surroundings. Their yoga practice allows them 2 hours of freedom from their incarceration through a dedication of asanas and pranayama. This is their quiet space. Their safe haven. Their small sliver of peace of mind for the entire week.

As you can imagine, the practice has been extremely well-received by the inmates and we are hoping to greatly expand our program to include death row and lifer inmates for which there are some classes but not nearly enough to meet the demand.

We are in dire need of yoga material donations for the inmates. The inmates have nothing and up until now we have solely been practicing in modified chair and standing poses. The inmates would have the opportunity to greatly expand their practice with the use of these materials.
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We really connected with Jasmine's mission and have sent yoga mats for her program. To learn more about Jasmine's efforts, check out her blog.

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