I knew I was going to cover Yoga as a topic this week, however, I had no idea I would be blessed with the opportunity to speak to SevaUnite about the Prison Freedom Project at Pollsmoor Maximum Facility in Cape Town.
Yoga and Meditation assist in the relief of suffering and rehabilitates the mind, body and soul. It brings a state of acceptance. This can alleviate the pain of prisoners who have wronged others, or sustained severe trauma.
Men are getting up at 5am to find some space and quiet to practice yoga.
SevaUnite began in 2010, conducting a series of Yoga rehabilitative classes at Pollsmoor Maximum Facility in Cape Town to the admissions centre, male juvenile section and the women’s unit. There is a Mindfulness Correspondence Course also available for volunteers and following this, there’s a Teachers Training Course that they can enrol in, should a passion begin to blossom.
Interview by Tarryn Hardwicke
A SevaUnite Volunteer, Shale Tinkler, shares some insight into his journey with the organisation and his own experiences with yoga/meditation.
MCBN: What role do you play in SevaUnite and how long have you been involved?
ST: I have been volunteering with Seva Unite since mid-2016, teaching yoga to offenders at Pollsmoor.
MCBN: How can we as the public get involved with SevaUnite?
ST: To get involved as an instructor or by making a contribution towards expenses, contact Seva Unite via their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. donations of any unused yoga mats are also welcome.
MCBN: Describe some of your most memorable experiences whilst working with the organisation.
ST: My most memorable experiences mostly involve seeing the powerful impact yoga has had on those practising. Over a 90 minute session of postures, breathwork and relaxation, tense, guarded facial expressions and body language visibly soften and become lighter, more gentle and open.
Some practising have reported that yoga helps them feel more calm & peaceful and deal with anger and stress in a positive way. Others mentioned how they were able to gain deep insight into themselves and their past and gain hope and a more positive outlook for the future.
My very best though, was once, after a deep relaxation at the end of a class when I asked how everyone was feeling. One responded with “I feel like I’m not in prison anymore”. I think this illustrates yoga’s potential, even in physical confinement, to bring about a powerful sense of inner freedom.
MCBN: What inspired you to start Yoga/Meditation?
ST: I was introduced to yoga by someone close to me, thinking that it would be a good form of exercise. While it definitely has been hugely beneficial for my body, what really keeps me coming back to my mat are the profound benefits I feel in my mind and spirit. When I practice consistently I feel more peaceful, more cheerful and more connected to those around me and to life itself. Yoga has helped me learn self-discipline and continues to help me learn to know and love myself.
SevaUnite also helps collect unused/unwanted clothing, toys and household items and allocates it to those that are in need.
Check out more info on SevaUnite at http://www.sevaunite.org/
For some YOGA on Insta checkout my personal page: yoga_for_days