“I don’t even remember leaving the bar,” one guy said to his cell phone as I approached the jail this morning. Another guy was pretty sure he was arrested for a DUI the night before, but not 100% sure. They made me giggle as I waited to be admitted as a guest to teach yoga. Then on the other side of the security door my giggles faded away as I saw how crowded they were. All the drunk tanks and holding cells were full of three people sleeping on mats on the floor huddled with blankets. One of the tanks was smeared with what must have been vomit. That was a first.
This is how it goes teaching at a jail. You’re up, you’re down, it’s fun, it’s traumatizing, it’s sad, it’s just another yoga class, all at the same time. I noticed today that the stress of the environment didn’t bother me as much as usual. Maybe because I’ve been taking better care of myself than usual? Maybe because I’m more comfortable now that I’ve done it a few times and know to expect the unexpected? When a girl went to the bathroom in the middle of class and her flush drowned out my voice I just smiled and waited until I could be heard again. That wasn’t a first. There is an outdoor toilet in the mesh covered courtyard where we hold yoga classes. I kept my shoes and socks on today while I taught, instead of freezing my toes on the concrete and I invited them to keep their socks on as well.
Today we did some standing poses, push ups, squats, and scrumptious floor poses. They like to chit chat more than I’m used to doing in a regular yoga class. They want to ask random health questions, how to eat, where they can do yoga on the outside. They want to explain how long they’re in for. One explained she was in for a 10 day detox from drugs and she was a mamma. I’m so humbled by the experience of sharing yoga with these women every time. How difficult it must be to be in jail and keep your head on straight. One girl said they hadn’t been outside in 4 days! No matter what brought them to the jail, we can empathize with the difficulties they face. Even if they brought them on.
I can see in each one of them a bit of myself, my best friends, my neighbors. I feel a little guilty for being thankful that the wrong turns I’ve taken in life didn’t lead me to jail. They were never really that bad in hindsight. I actually took a bunch of photos of the jail program room and courtyard on my cell phone but totally got caught and was so embarassed! What was I thinking! The bloggerati in me just wanted to share I guess. I will leave you with the photo of me getting caught. Haha!