WE’AR Social Prophets

Social prophecy is about manifesting the world we want to live in by participating in solutions oriented development.
 
Allowing the heart and mind to navigate some of the more complex problems we face in modern society has led us to the work of NZ yogi, Adhyatma who has founded the Yoga Education in Prisons Trust. YEPT brings the practical techniques of yoga and mediation to people held in prisons that are very much in need of a new perspective. 
 
Swami Vishnu-Devananda explains yoga as a complete road map to freedom. WE’AR in the mindset that much of what leads people to lifestyles of crime and/or violence is essentially a lack of freedom and empowerment. Yoga postures and breathing techniques bring more vital and positive energy into the body. When you feel good physically, it’s harder for the mind to stay negative and aggressive. Yoga is essentially about liberating from old patterns and attachments so you can see clearly and make good decisions. An essential first step in this process is being able to access a contemplative space where you can meet yourself in your most simple state. YEPT is manifesting this by taking the yoga where it is needed in prisons around New Zealand.
 
WE’AR offered an initial research scholarship to YEPT and is providing ongoing support to volunteer teachers.
Currently 65 prisoners are attending yoga sessions around NZ with 4 Volunteer teachers.

YEPT is creating a safe supportive environment, which is nurtured by experienced teachers who rather than reform, guide a yoga practice imparting skills for self-observation and reflection. The power of the practice develops individual capacity for relaxation, understanding of health and balanced lifestyle alongside knowledge of how to manage everyday challenges. With these skills the prisoners learn tools to let go of fears and explore meditation for personal growth and well being, the opportunity to transform their own lives.

‘Yoga has had a profound effect on my self-esteem and the ability to make positive decisions for my future.’

'Every time I do yoga, I am healing myself.'

Adhyatma started teaching yoga in Waikeria prison in 2007, which gave rise to establishing YEPT in 2009.

“So far most contributions have been from yogis who believe in this work, to support the work a person must have some belief themselves in the power of yoga. There is a mind set that’s thankfully slowly diminishing that prisoners should be locked up with key thrown away and not given any perks like Yoga! Or heating. I say how can a person heal in a cold room with no guidance? 

The men look forward to my visit each week and have the room where I teach them all prepared. They get the mats out (donated by Bikram Yoga Wellington) and lay them out in a circle.

The class usually begins with a strong Boat Pose, some gentle twists and abdominal work. Backwards bends and child pose. Then standing with warrior sequence, balancing poses and Salute to the Sun. By then all the tension is released, they’re feeling pretty good and are ready to lie down for Meditation. They respond well to love and non-judgement. To me this is the most important aspect of my work. Its not so much what I teach but how I teach and just by going in there each week it shows them someone cares. “

YEPT teaches Satyananda Yoga Nidra which is a guided deep relaxation.

The sankalpa (positive resolve) can be very powerful for them and visualisations can be effective to get 'out' of the jail for a bit. Archetypal images from nature like, ‘hot golden beach, deep green forest, ship sailing on the sea’ have this effect, helping to release deep hidden impressions (Samskaras) from the psyche or unconscious mind in a very safe way. The safe environment created with these men has positive association that develops as they practice and progress. Along side the teaching they have developed a program and booklet called ‘Freedom from Within’ for the men to practice in their own time. YEPT has a long- standing vision of having a yoga teacher in every prison in Aotearoa.

The research project underway here in NZ offers a scholarship with support from Oxford University professors and professors at Victoria NZ. 

Along with support from WE’AR, the team is working on small, localised council grants and approaching privately for donations to support volunteer teachers. The Trust relies solely on donations to do this valuable work.

Money is a form of energy. When we spend it we give it and by doing so we power up the beliefs and behaviours of those we give it to. When you spend it –who do you want to give it to?

WE’AR supporting planetary wellbeing by committing $1 per garment in support of manifesting social prophecy.

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Selini @ WE'AR

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