By: Brianne Murphy, Director of Prison Yoga Programs
I’ve been privileged enough in my work to be able to provide yoga and mindfulness classes in many different settings: schools, summer camps, libraries, youth detention centers, prisons, recovery houses, the list goes on. I never fancied myself a studio instructor, and experiences like the one I had at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility with Community Advocates is exactly why I do the work in the manner that I do.
It is clear that Community Advocates’ “It’s T.I.M.E.” Instructor JB Brooks has set up a rapport and level of trust with his participants. Any time we go to lead a class on yoga and mindfulness we never really know what to expect. But what I have come to recognize is the truly divine timing of every brush with yoga my students and I have. JB has been leading breathing exercises and adequately prepared the men for the experiential learning that was about to take place. We were beautifully led in breath by one of the participants which perfectly set the stage for the rest of our time together.
Yoga and mindfulness is experiential and inquiry based. There is no exactly right answer that can’t be found within yourself. Like the skills and topics that JB covers throughout the session, one’s personal experience and ownership of the materials is critical. What we can feel in our own bodies is what we will remember most.
Work-shopping a topic like yoga and mindfulness with a skilled co-facilitator and engaged participants is nothing short of magic. Through real life engagement with the materials we are able to have honest conversations with the participants about the overwhelming emotions that can be present in daily life. What is always most powerful is coming to share techniques that participants are already engaging with, without knowing that they were “doing yoga”. This is a beautiful testament to the wisdom of our bodies. I left feeling so fortunate to be a part of a group who is taking the time to facilitate such powerful experiences. I am counting down the days until our next session.
*Brianne Murphy co-facilitates a new mindfulness class for students in the “It’s T.I.M.E.” re-entry class at the county jail.