Yoga and meditation: Subtle Practices for Change: Rosa Vissers at TEDxMonroeCorrectionalComplex

Yoga and meditation: Subtle Practices for Change: Rosa Vissers at TEDxMonroeCorrectionalComplex


Translator: Tijana Mihajlović
Reviewer: Denise RQ All right everybody, I’m going to ask you
to join me in a little yoga exercise mostly because I really need it right now. (Laughter) But I figure maybe
some of you need it too. It’s really quick, I promise. I’m not going to make you
do anything crazy. So, if you’re in a chair or standing,
just really feel your feet on the floor. Ah, love it! (Laughter) Sit a little taller and just notice the chair,
or the floor, the back of the chair, and take a deep breath in (Inhaling) and a deep slow breath out (Exhaling) Thank you. Thank you for going there with me,
especially since you don’t know me. (Laughter) And I don’t know you. But I do actually know you. I might not know
what your days are like here in prison, or the stress you carry, or how your family feels
about you not being home. But I know you because you’re human. You may wonder why the heck
I’m talking this way. Well, I’m a yoga teacher,
in case you didn’t know yet, and this sense of connection,
of being in this together, is at the heart of my practice. So even if I don’t know the specifics
and circumstances of your life, I do know you, and I imagine you are experiencing
stress every single day. Through the years of working with yoga
behind bars and my personal practice, I know without a doubt that yoga delivers peace, centredness,
and a sense of well being. I believe that yoga can reduce stress
and cultivate compassion, and be the key to healing
and successful rehabilitation. Imagine a teenager who goes to prison. Well, there he takes yoga classes
and finishes his G.E.D. and once out,
he enrolls in community college, has a 3.7 G.P.A.
and is president of the Math Club. This is one of our former students, and I want everybody
who is behind bars today, to be a success story like him. This is why I am dedicated
and part of the national movement to bring yoga to more prisons. Another student of mine,
let’s call her Susan, came to class and her mind was going
a million miles an hour, and she was tense. She wouldn’t stop talking either. (Laughter) Yeah. Just after few minutes,
something shifted. A smile appeared upon Susan’s face,
and her body started to relax. Every time I go to prison, I get to witness these small
or not so small transformations, and I want more of them to happen
in more prisons every day. How many of you
have at least heard of yoga? Right on. Yeah! 24.4 million people practice yoga
in the US today, but what is it? Yoga teaches breathing techniques,
physical poses, and meditation to bring about union, to bring
all parts of yourself into one place. It asks us to realize something
all spiritual traditions agree upon: we are inextricably connected
like a billion cells of a single body. Once you realize that, not just up here
but really in your heart, it changes your outlook
on life in a big way. But there’s more than just a soft stuff. Yoga actually changes your brain. Scientists have found
that brain rewires itself through a process called neuroplasticity, and what this means is that we can all shift
our behaviors and perceptions. So, you could see yoga
as a way to hack your brain and upgrade it to a less stressed-out,
more compassionate version. It’s cheap too, actually. (Laughter) Yeah. Yoga is scientifically proven
to reduce depression and anger. Anybody in this room is ever angry? OK, thank you. Yeah, yeah. I’m a yoga teacher, and I still
get pissed off all the time, so – (Laughter) (Cheers) But, yoga really helps me to set it down just a little bit quicker, to just let it go. Yoga is also
a really effective additional therapy during treatment for addiction, and we know that the majority of people
coming out of prison have a history of substance use. So, why not offer yoga
as a support for recovery? I think there’s about 150 of us
in this room as I counted really quickly. If you represented
the entire US prison population, about 60 of you would be back in prison
within three years of release. Yoga can drastically improve
those statistics, and I want more people
to be part of that better statistic. Any of you ever have trouble sleeping? All TEDx presenters raise your hands. (Laughter) Thank you. Yeah. Think about why you’re unable to sleep. Was it ever because
of stress, anxiety, worry? I’m really proud that every student
I’ve talked to reports that they sleep better
because of their yoga practice. Now, here’s a challenge for you. Consider your vision
of what the prison is for. Is it purposed to be
a chamber of punishment, where people only focus on surviving? Or is it purposed
to be place of training and learning, where people can focus on thriving? Yoga’s been used for thousands of years
to create healthier, happier people no matter where you live
or your circumstances. So, together we can transform
prisons into places where people get tools to cope
with the stress and anxiety on the inside and build a bridge
towards the better future on the outside. This is why I want to teach these powerful
mind-body tools behind bars, because with them,
we can break this cycle of suffering. Without them, the cycle will continue. I’ll leave you with the word that we use
at the end of every yoga class, which also illustrates
this fundamental truth I really believe in: that we are all one. Rosa Vissers: Namaste.
(Audience) Namaste. (Applause)