Jail inmates in Indore are warming up to yoga for its multiple benefits – from building a healthy body and mind to the possibility of trimming their sentence by a few days.
This unique move to reduce sentence of yoga-practising convicts was announced by home minister Babulal Gaur during a programme at Indore Central Jail in June this year. Gaur had said there was a provision in law to reduce punishment of jail inmates.
“Practising yoga in jail was implemented a couple of years back, but after the first International Yoga Day celebration on June 21, awareness about yoga among jail inmates has increased significantly,” Indore Central Jail superintendent Sanjay Pandey said.
As many as 600 inmates of the total 2,200 inmates are now participating in regular yoga sessions. “All of them are hoping that practising yoga will not only improve their physical and mental fitness, make them more even tempered and less stressed, but also reduce their sentence,” he added.
Though most inmates may have taken up yoga to take a few days off their sentence, this exercise for the mind and body appears to be doing them much good.
Jail superintendent Pandey said, “Several hardened convicts have shown signs of transformation after practising yoga regularly.”
Prisoners who have been participating yoga regularly agree.
“My anger has subsided since I started practicing yoga,” said a 50-year-old convict. “I have learnt how to stay cool even in adverse situations as yoga helps me to share positive vibes among those who were present around me, and this will help me a lot once I move out of prison.”
Another convict who has taken to yoga said, “Anger, stress, anxiety, etc depend on your breathing. Through Pranayam (alternate breathing technique), I’ve learnt how to control this problem. Not just anger and stress, but I have also rediscovered myself in a better way and now I’m spending my day happily even in jail and waiting for my release.”
According to jail officials, several inmates have even quit chewing tobacco, pan and smoking after joining the daily yoga sessions in jail.
Meanwhile, Krishna Kant Mishra, an Art of Living Prison Smart Programme teacher responsible for organising yoga camps and activities inside prisons, said the ancient art, which is a combination of physical movements with breathing exercises and meditation helps people deal with anger issues, anxiety and stress.
“Regular practice helps bring about lots of changes in an individual’s behaviour and helps inmates remain calm,” said Mishra, who has been organising similar yoga camps inside jails for the last three years.