This Month's Featured Teacher
Shall I write about their crimes? Their gross errors in judgment? Poor timing? Bad luck? Shall I tell stories of the children they cannot mother? The families left behind? Perhaps I should write about their suffering, the trauma, the dysfunction that has, without exception, helped to land them here - sitting in this circle with me - behind bars. As I begin to teach, fluorescent lights hum, and from outside the door, sounds of shuffling feet and voices mix with the loud static discharge of handheld radios and the metallic rattle of keys.
The dissonance of sounds in this place, ubiquitous. Never a moment's rest.
I sit in this circle every Friday with the women prisoners. In a make-shift classroom that serves as our yoga and mediation studio. Some are here for months, some for years, some for the rest of their lives.
There are, of course, stories to tell. Stories that turn me inside out to hear, that sometimes haunt for days. For today though, let me tell you, not about the horrors these women have endured, but about their smiles. The way they miss their babies and long for simple pleasures: toast, blankets, sunscreen, colorful socks even! I'll tell you how we laugh, falling out of asanas and talk about emotions and sensations. Let me tell you about how these women support each other and celebrate each small victory.
How they call me sister, and, after time, share with me their inner resources - the places that comfort, the places that bring ease, the place where they know that they are ok.
Listen now, and let me tell you about their bravery, their courage. Let me tell you how these women overcome tremendous fear to be with the quiet places, to sit with sensation. How these women overcome.
The women say we bring light into that dark place. I say we are mirrors reflecting the luminous light within THEM. In this prison space, as in every classroom that I teach, I serve only as a pointer. Again and again holding space for the student to recognize and feel the truth within. That silent knowing of their profoundly healing and undeniable wholeness.
So, today shall you listen to stories of their crimes, of their traumas, of their pain? Or will you turn instead to their still-quiet songs, these songs of wholeness that they have flowing from within.
Michele Vinbury is a certified iRest Yoga Nidra teacher who offers weekly classes to inmates at the Ohio Reformatory for women. The classes include gentle, trauma sensitive yoga asana and iRest Yoga Nidra.
Michele teaches vinyasa flow, trauma sensitive yoga, pranayama and iRest yoga nidra at her home studio, Yoga on High, in Columbus, OH and is the co-Director of the studio's charitable arm, the Yoga on High Foundation.
Michele's full bio
Yoga on High Foundation