Santi, Assistant Trainer for the Yoga Seed’s APPLY program speaks about the experience working with incarcerated at CSP Solano:
Yoga is like getting on a tour bus of your own psyche; once you choose to stay on the bus, you begin a journey that eventually leads you to a beautiful place you never knew existed. Witnessing these men stand up, instruct one another, and share their deepest insights on compassion, courage, and self-love is like getting snapshots into their own personal journeys. The beautiful thing is that, although this journey is an individual one, they are all in it together, sharing a similar experience. One inmate shared, “It’s easy to have your heart grow hard after awhile in here; you begin to adopt the mentality that, I don’t know you and I don’t want to know you. So no one gets to see the real me, and this here feels like an opportunity to change, where people finally get to see the genuine me.”
Gratitude for the ability to change and the belief in the potential of change is a recurring sentiment in the feedback circles. One man expressed his feelings after reflecting on a course reading, “Learning to have self-love has opened my eyes to a new experience, an experience where it is possible to move from something that I was into something different.”
As the days progress, it becomes clear that through open-hearted sharing, inspiration, and hope for a new way of being, this program offers something integral to our humanity: the ability to share openly without judgment, and to feel heard and seen. What is being built here is a CDCR self-help group, but more importantly, a sangha (spiritual community); a space where for the first time (possibly ever) these men can reveal their most important personal developments, joys, sorrows, and hopes for a better life, and to pay this gift back in service to others.