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The missed opportunity to train in Yoga

By | Apr 14th 2010 | 2 min read


One of the training programs I happened to take while in zingatialand was Yoga.

Yoga is associated with meditative practices in Budhism, Hinduism and Jainism. A person who follows the Yoga philosophy is called a Yogi or yogin. The concept involves control of the senses and the cessation of mental activity leading to a supreme state.

We practiced Yoga for about a week but most of us had learnt it by the time the program was over. Most of the prisoners associated it with idol worship. By the second day of the program most of us had a thousand and one questions. When it came to meditation phase where we were required to close our eyes and drift to another world, none was willing to close their eyes.

Suspicious thoughts

Everyone had their eyes half closed imagining that the trainers wanted to practise some witchcraft. When the two trainers realised that no one was serious with the exercise, they asked all of us to lie down. The aim was to dissuade us from copying what the others were doing.

We refused to do this and the trainers had a real hard time trying to convince us why meditation was good for our minds.

What they did not know is that the candles they had lit the previous day had brought about a lot of bad rumours in the cells that evening. Some inmates who thought they understood Yoga better had already poisoned the minds of those taking the classes. They told us how most witches practice using candles.

"They are telling you guys to close your eyes so that they can call upon their gods using those candles," one sister claimed adding that by the time they were done all of us would start worshipping cows.

Spreading fear

She said we would not be allowed to eat meat, a very cherished delicacy, which was served only twice a week in prison.

"Afadhali nikufe lakini nisikose kanyake (I would better die than miss that piece of meat)" the prisoners reasoned. By the time the classes were coming to an end, even the trainers sensed that they had hit a hard rock. A report was taken to the officer in charge. She too looked convinced that something was not right.

For the remaining years that I stayed on in Zingatialand after that, no one ever brought back Yoga classes again.

Instead came the peak performance, which to most was a welcome idea. All enjoyed this and hoped they could get more of the same.

The writer is an ex-prisoner

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