“I never felt my breath this light before in my whole life. Today, I am feeling so much peace and silence than I ever felt before.” A young inmate, Tihar Jail, Delhi, India
The Art of Living’s Youth Empowerment and Skills (YES!+) program, conducted for around 200 inmates in jail no. 5 of Tihar Jail Complex, made a remarkable impact on the youngsters. The adolescent group, aged between 16 and 25 years, was infamous for being adamant, rude and non-compliant. Rohit Ranjan, YES!+ faculty admitted, “Initially, it was quite challenging to hold their attention. But after the Sudarshan Kriya, it became easy to connect with them”.
The workshop was spread over five days and conducted by 12 teachers. While the youngsters were initially reluctant, they slowly began to enjoy the course. From the third day onwards, one could witness substantial changes - the adolescents offered to help and volunteer for the workshop. They became receptive and even opened up to share personal experiences by the end of the workshop. Sayeed (name changed), a 22-year-old, quit smoking and vowed to leave a criminal life.
Their experiences can make one cry
Karan Nijhawan, YES!+ faculty shared, “Initially, it was difficult to ask them to do anything, but with passage of time and after experiencing the Sudarshan Kriya, they exhibited a noticeable change. Their experiences shared can make one cry.”
The prison staff also believed the program had an incredibly positive impact on the group. S.C.Bharadwaj, Superintendent of Jail No 5, said that the course was well-organized and benefited the inmates immensely. He said, “The breathing techniques helped the inmates release all their negative emotions and think about life with a new perspective. They were encouraged to tap their hidden talents.”
Teaching in Tihar since 1999
The Art of Living’s Stress Management And Rehabilitation Training (SMART) program was introduced in Tihar jail, in 1999. Over 48,000 prison inmates in Tihar jail alone have benefited from the program. Special courses have been conducted for the prison staff to cope with the stress, owing to the nature of their job. The course is conducted twice a year for the staff, and around 130 members have completed the Art of Living Introductory Course.