Women in Kenyan jail discover relaxing effects of yoga

By Shabtai Gold for monstersandcritics.com, Feb 11, 2012


AfricaYogaProject

‘Hold the pose … Now balance and stretch forward,’ says Margret to the women, who giggle a bit as they move deeper into a forward bend, their loose fitting uniforms flowing in the wind blowing through the prison yard.

Several more poses are taught and Margret then guides the women through massage techniques. Paired off, the women take turns working various muscle groups on each other before they settle into a final relaxation pose.

Many of the women – convicted of a range of offenses, including murder – are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Their health has been in decline and long lines run down their tired faces.

But the women say the yoga is a rare source of happiness inside Langata Prison, a chance to free their minds for a few moments.

‘We have a lot of stress (in prison), but when I do yoga, I don’t think of anything, the head goes empty. And it makes me feel fine,’ says Jennifer, who still has nearly three years left of her nine-year sentence.

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