Many years ago, I had the opportunity to take a yoga class at San Quentin State Prison in Northern California.
I had visited the prison before, attending other classes, with inmates, on anger management and a class based on Bryon Katie’s The Work, but this was my first yoga class.
It was an evening class, which made the prison seem that much more foreboding, and the class was full of lifers. The inmates in that room had committed very serious crimes. Most would never again see outside the prison’s walls.
A man sat down on the mat next to mine and immediately struck up a conversation.
He shared with me that the class had changed him in ways he hadn’t anticipated, that the yoga and mindfulness practice was helping him see the oneness in the world, and the invisible connections between all of us.
He had also begun to realize the damage he had caused by taking a life, not just to himself and the victim, but to his family, his community, and that of the victim’s. The circle of people affected by the violent act and its outcome was ever-widening. He had been in prison for years but had never really considered all of that before starting his yoga practice.