Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned

"If your happiness - if your well-being - is not subject to anyone or anything, only then you can say 'I am a free man'. Otherwise it doesn't matter if you are in prison or you are walking outside on the street, still you are a prisoner within yourself." - Sadhguru
Inner Freedom Inner Transformation Free Yoga Program
Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned

Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned is a free program offered to prisoners at various sites in India and the United States. It provides these men and women, many of whom are life-term prisoners, a possibility of inner transformation.

Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned began in the Coimbatore Central Prison in India, in the state of Tamil Nadu. The longing to offer himself to an often forgotten segment of humanity impelled Sadhguru to persist in an eight-month campaign in 1992 to obtain the opportunity to conduct his first yoga program in the Coimbatore Central Prison. From this initial contact, the program quickly spread as both inmates and prison officials responded enthusiastically. Sixty-seven life-term prisoners, many of whom presented disciplinary and management problems to prison officials became transformed through the practices given by Sadhguru. Disciplinary levels improved in the jail and relatives who came to visit the prisoners were able to observe positive changes. Now the yoga programs are offered in all prisons in Tamil Nadu at the request of prison authorities.

By focusing on inner transformation, the Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned yoga programs help inmates develop emotional and mental balance, responsibility, acceptance, and communication skills they can use to improve the quality of life during incarceration. This in turn increases their chance of a successful return to society, once released. Participants are given tools to go inward and help examine the roots of their violent behavior, and hence learn alternative methods for coping with stress and anger.

The programs provide prisoners with the possibility of an ongoing yoga practice which they can follow independently for the rest of their lives. Practices taught in the yoga program are based on a holistic approach to health. They provide the possibility for the inner energies of the individual to become balanced and in full flow, allowing the person to live in inner peace and freedom regardless of his or her outer environment. The practice of yoga has brought amazing transformation to thousands of prisoners in South Indian prisons. Thousands of the participants, formerly considered among the most violent offenders, have written letters and poems to Sadhguru and the Isha Yoga teachers, expressing the changes within their inner being.

"Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned" prison yoga programs were offered for the first time in two American correctional facilities in 2002: the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at Waymart and Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. Sadhguru taught the two classes of approximately 50 participants each, and once again prisoners experienced amazing transformation, so much so that some of the prison guards who were present asked if they too could attend the programs. Both prisons requested that the programs continue at their site, and the Pennsylvania officials asked Sadhguru to expand the program to all the twenty-seven Pennsylvania state prisons.

Isha Foundation is currently providing 100% funding for Inner Freedom for the Imprisoned to USA prisons, but is seeking partnerships with other non-profit organizations and government agencies to help sponsor programs and expand the project to a greater number of correctional facilities in America.

 
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