In 2002, AMURT volunteer Steven Landau MD (aka Pashupati), began teaching inmates at Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. The curriculum included yoga postures, meditation, kirtan (spiritual chanting), philosophy, and conduct codes. Each class lasted for 2 hours, part didactic, and part practical/experiential. These weekly classes have been going on continuously since that time, and are currently being managed by Stephen Ordog (aka Shiva). The inmates are all felons, with crimes ranging from drug dealing to murder. We get about 5-10 inmates per class, and in 2008 a study was published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy describing the results of those classes. Of those who voluntarily attended more than four classes, 8.5% were reincarcerated within 2-3 years, while 25.2% of those who attended fewer than four classes were reincarcerated during this same period. This difference was found to be statistically significant at the p<0.025 level, and the rate is strikingly less than expected for this population.
Since that time, AMURT has inspired or sponsored similar programs at 6 other men’s and women’s prisons and jails across the state of North Carolina. We are currently expanding our program to include even more, with the target of reaching inmates in every correctional facility in the state. Our teachers have found the work immensely rewarding, and we also use the program as a training site for new RYT’s (Registered Yoga Teachers) and high-level trainees from various Yoga Teacher Training programs. In doing so, we have coordinated with the Yoga Teachers of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), and the Triad Yoga Institute of Greensboro, NC. Teachers are free to choose their own curriculum and teaching style, and syllabi, materials and handouts are also provided to them as desired. Our handout texts include “We’re All Doing Time” by Bo Lozoff, and “Hey, Yoga Man!” by Shiva Steve Ordog. We also provide books for
prison libraries, including “Baba’s Grace” by Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, the founder and preceptor of Ananda Marga Yoga Society.
We encourage all yoga/meditation teachers of various stripes and lineages to engage in this program, and stand ready to assist you in this worthy endeavor to re-direct and rehabilitate people’s lives. One of our graduates, Dennis Gaddy, has made it his life’s work to provide re-entry and reconstruction services to ex-offenders, and has founded a non-profit called Community Success Initiative which may be visited at www.communitysuccess.org/ Our coordinator for programs across the state is Shyama Nair, who may be reached at email@example.com . You may also feel free to contact Dr. Landau at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his office at (919)-209-9930. We stand ready to assist you!
We also express here our gratitude for the cooperation extended by the NC Department of Corrections for providing facilities and staff for these worthy programs.
~ I AM ~
Dedicated to those who still languish behind the razor wire.
CSI In the News!
See what CSI was up to at the NC Reentry Summit on March 11. View the Video
Communicating Effectively With Your Legislator
Don’t be intimidated. Legislators are in the business of representing the public’s interest. A significant part of their job is listening to people like you.
Ask to speak briefly with the legislator. If the legislator is not in his or her office, ask for their contact information and leave the Second Chance Alliance Action Request with the secretary.
Address the legislators as “Representative ____” or “Senator _____.”
Introduce yourself clearly. Tell the legislator your name, where you are from, and why you are there. If you are a member of their district, it is especially important for you to let them know.
Share your reentry story and/or support for second chances. This is the most important thing you can do on Second Chance Lobby Day. In just 2 or 3 minutes, describe the barriers that you have faced as a result of your criminal record, why the legislator should try to address these barriers, and how you would use (or have used) your second chance. If you do not have a criminal record, please describe why you support lowering barriers to reentry.
Be specific. Suggest actions the legislator might take, including specific bills he or she should support. Use the Second Chance Alliance Action Request as a guide.
Listen, and always be respectful. Listen to what the legislator has to say, even if you do not agree with what he or she is saying. You can state facts or personal stories to support your opinion, but try to avoid arguing with the legislator.
Share Action Request. Be sure to leave the legislator with a copy of the Second Chance Alliance Action Request.