Why Yoga Behind Bars?

Hello! You may be asking yourself, why did Emily choose Yoga Behind Bars as her cause to stand alongside? Well it's a long story....


I already had by BA from Seattle University with a major in psychology and my social justice values led me to the university. I always had a strong need to serve (especially women). And, customer service in banking wasn't it. In 2013, I graduated from 8 Limbs Yoga Centers 200hr Teacher Training program. I respect the folks there so much in their education that yoga IS social justice. This is where I first learned about Yoga Behind Bars. This is also the year, I fell in love with someone long distance, became interested in the budding Escape to Peace, an organization that supports victims of sex trafficking, applied to graduate school for counseling, began volunteering at the King County Crisis Line and I began training to volunteer for Yoga Behind Bars.


At the training I had no idea of the statistics. I had no idea of the history behind the use of our American criminal system. I never had paused and thought of the concept most folks in the system will be coming back into society - how do you want them to come back? Returning with tools, or harder? The folks at Yoga Behind Bars showed and educated me. I went to the women's prison near Gig Harbor, two or three times. It made a life long impact.


But, my path and heart took me in a different direction down to LA. And, subsequently back to the Seattle area a few years later.


During my pre/postnatal yoga training in 2019, Rosa Visser, now former Executive Director of Yoga Behind Bars was a participant. It relit the flame to help support; I just didn't know how just yet with a less than year old at home. Rosa was taking the training to bring into the jails to help those who are pregnant in the system. Mamas, can you imagine and empathize with that? I vividly remember Alicia Keyes posting a horrific video of the conditions.


And, then the pandemic of 2020. It's now 3 months into the stay at home, stay healthy order. It does offer reflection. It does offer space to get to know what are important things to take with you, and leave behind. I got the bug to reframe my business dreams. How can I serve? How can I make an impact? How can I educate and support? Who am I? What will be my legacy?


And, then the civil unrest. The reckoning. Black Lives absolutely fucking Matter. I believe whole heartily that when George Flyod called for his mom he did invoke a strong call in us mamas. I hear it. Something has changed in this country, finally.


I am building a business with my community and loved ones in mind. I want to align with a local organization that is bettering lives where other folks turn their eyes. I'm looking at the prisons and jails in a broken, and corrupt system. I am looking at a system that process way more black and brown people. I am looking at service to women.


That's why I choose Yoga Behind Bars. I believe and trust them. I believe in their mission. If I can't actively volunteer at the moment, I will help raise funds. This isn't just a one time donation class. This is for the foreseeable future. Yoga is social justice.



Resources:

Watch the documentary: 13th

Yoga Behind Bars Website: https://yogabehindbars.org

King County Crisis Line: https://www.crisisconnections.org

Escape to Peace: https://escapetopeace.org

Read: https://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/





 

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