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Posted on March 07, 2016
When I began teaching yoga more than a decade ago, my work was in the prison system of New York City, teaching at-risk and incarcerated youth. My first year doing this was solely as a volunteer teacher. One year later, I was hired on as a lead teacher and eventually as a trainer. Teaching yoga to a population of students who had not been exposed to Western ‘yoga culture’ required a very different approach to teaching the practice.
Those early years of teaching were more about using simple asana in a very therapeutic way while integrating powerful dialogue about life, choice, truth, kindness, and so on. My teaching was more focused on the philosophy of Yoga (such as the Yamas and Niyamas) rather than Asana and Pranayama. However, I needed to express myself in a real world way, to find a language that reached my students so they would feel a connection with me and open up. My goal was to engage folks in real conversations, asking them questions they might not have been asked before and opening them up to a possibility of a life they may have not considered before.