The Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health has been holding yoga classes for inmates since May and the initiative seems to have worked.
Every morning, a group of 40-45 inmates get dressed by 8.30 am and assemble in the hall for classes. During the one-hour class, they can be seen enthusiastically following their instructor's directions and giving yoga their best shot.
The institute hopes that the daily routine helps inmates eventually reduce their dependence on medicines.
City-based 'Patanjali Yog Samiti' is providing an instructor to the institute free and the classes are held six days a week.
"The inmates are intelligent and pick up the asanas very quickly. Now, they know the names and the order of the asanas that we practice every day. So if I skip any or change the order, they are quick to point it out," said yoga instructor Satishwar Dass Mehra.
Mehra makes them do various Yoga asans like Hasya Pranayama, Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, and other small exercises for legs, hand, feet and eyes. "Thanks to yoga, the blockages of their veins are removed and blood circulation increases," he said.
Mehra has created a special bond with the inmates. "During the class, I make it a point to take everyone's name since it makes them feel that I am having an individual interaction with them. When they laugh really heartily, it makes me feel very nice," he said.
The inmates have emerged as role models for others and motivate others to attend the class. With their number increasing every day, the authorities now plan to shift the class to a bigger hall to accommodate all.
"A similar initiative was taken five years ago, which was attended by more than 100 inmates. Then the instructor left and we had to suspend the classes. We re-started from May and ever since the number has gone up. We ensure that those patients who are medically fit should attend the class so that they can take benefit out of this," said Dr BL Goel, director of the institute.
Dr. Goel added that music classes evening music classes would be started at the institute.
"Such classes provide a break from the monotonous everyday routine for the inmates. We have appointed a music teacher who will begin classes next week," he added.