Things are going swimmingly with my classes at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud. Attendance there has remained at a steady 40 every week. When I started at Mabel, the women had only one hour of yard time each day, which meant the ones in my class used their one hour that day for yoga. They were quite appreciative of this hour, but you could sense spirits were low, even in a prison setting. Since their new warden, Debbie Aldridge, has taken over, everything has changed. The women have almost unlimited yard access during the day, as well as many new fitness programs that inmates lead. It’s fantastic. Bad behavior and fights have gone way down, and administration is even starting to make progress on improving their food. I’ve heard rumors of fresh fruit being on every plate. Astounding. Progressive wardens make all the difference, friends.
As far as individual students go, there are a few that stand out. M is in her early 40s, has MS, uses a cane, and has attended every class I’ve had. When she first started, her limp was extreme, she was slightly overweight, and her self image was obviously low, judging from her stature and attitude. She gutted out every class – focusing especially on the extremely challenging balancing poses. She supplemented yoga with fitness classes when she became more confident. Today, from the looks of her, she’s dropped about 20 lbs, barely uses her cane, and smiles through most of class.
T only has use of one leg and gets around in a wheelchair. A natural athlete, T uses a sturdy chair and modifies everything with no “how-to” from me. The body awareness she has is phenomenal. The biggest change I’ve seen in her over the last few months is her attitude…she is much more upbeat, welcoming to other students, and thankful.
I’ve got a new student who’s been to class about three times. She is severely overweight, modifies every movement, never complains, and shakes my hand after every class. Her presence is highly motivating.
There are many more stories and inspiring individuals. These women all made mistakes, some of which will cost them their freedom forever. And, in a lot of cases, that is just. Their ability to find positive change in their current circumstances, however, keeps me coming back.
Thank you all so much for your continued support. It is everything.