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The Hindu

Yoga Transforms Lives of Prisoners

11 November, 1999



COIMBATORE, NOV. 11. The Sahaja Sthithi Yoga programmes offered to 67 life-term prisoners in 1992 commenced again from August 3, this year following requests from Mr. B. M. Ezra, DIG of Prisons, Coimbatore Range, and Mr. M. Chendoor Pandian, Superintendent, Coimbatore Central Prison.

According to the yoga centre, headed by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, five classes had been offered, and they had changed the way the prisoners felt and experienced life.

Disciplinary levels had improved in the jail, and even relatives who came to visit the prisoners had been able to observe the change. Prisoners stopped feeling that they were "outcasts and a burden to society." This programme had also benefited the prison administration, for the authorities who had been busy at one time merely finding ways and means to handle conflict between prisoners, were now in a position to execute welfare programmes which had been well received by the inmates.

With a meditation hall being made available for the prisoners to practice yoga, even convicts who could not remain seated for a few minutes, were going through the programme for over four hours, and missing a meal as well.

Now there were also volunteers for laying roads inside the prison premises, planting tree saplings, looking after patients in the prison hospital, and even organising the Gandhi Jayanthi Day celebrations, when a march past by the prisoners had been organized, perhaps for the first time in the jail.

In a letter to the Foundation, Mr. Ezra observed, "I can see  your yoga programme touching the core of the person and making them experience the taste of life, leaving bad habits, and moving among others with affection."

Opining that if the trend continued the entire atmosphere of the prison would change, the DIG urged the yoga centre to offer such programmes to "all staff working under Coimbatore Range."

On November 14, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is scheduled to visit the prisoners who have undergone Sahaja Sthithi Yoga programmes in the prison, and deliver an address on "Inner freedom for the imprisoned."


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