The gift of a yoga mat

At the outset of a prisoner rehabilitation course in Peru’s Piedras Gordas Prison, the prisoners were given a gift: a yoga mat.

The mat could have been passed off as something to make the course more comfortable and obviously would be returned after the course. Yet each inmate was a yoga mat richer as they were told these were donated by a group from a mining company.

This group had just finished The Art of Living course. When Pila Cama, their teacher told them about the upcoming Prison course she was taking, all the participants decided to donate their mats.

Meditation to calmer minds

The process and meditation techniques taught to the mix of inmates (between 18-28 years) left an impact. Most of them reported better sleep quality, felt calmer and more enthusiastic. Like more prisoners, the group who underwent the course rarely has any visitors or relatives. The regret, aggression and confusion festering inside are reflected in the weather outside on Ancon Beach in north Lima: extreme cold and excruciating summers.

Yet the meditation techniques taught in the course helped to accept their situation, come to terms and think with a calmer mind about a better future. The yoga mat has come to symbolize the thawing of the winter and the growing warmth.