Yoga Helps Utah Inmates Find Peace Behind Bars

From the Salt Lake Tribune: Inmate Ferosa Bluff stood stock-still, barely swaying as she curled one foot behind her knee and stretched her arms toward the gymnasium’s drab ceiling at the Utah State Prison.

Stretched out in a half-moon shape in front of her, 13 other women held the same pose. Bluff calmly instructed the women to breathe and find their balance as she led the yoga class on a recent Friday. In unison, they followed, pushing and contorting their bodies from position to position. At the conclusion of the class, the women breathed deeply while laying flat on the gleaming wood floor across yoga mats in a blend of deep blues, magenta, and foamy green. Bluff played a soft string song that gradually shifted into a stirring operatic crescendo and looked on at the other women silently. In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Bluff said yoga has become popular at the prison and helped transform each woman participating for the better. Yoga helps practitioners quell anger and anxiety, tackle addiction, teach new paths and, above all else, helps them deal with trauma, she explained. “We store a lot of negative things in our bodies,” Bluff said. “Sometimes women will cry during classes and not know exactly why, but it’s that release.”

“You can have a positive experience in a place that is known for a negative connotation,” she added. “Even in a place like this, we can find the beauty and peace in something like yoga.” To read more of this article by Sahalie Donaldson for The Salt Lake Tribune, click here!

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