#nojudgment – Stories from the mat…

Pima County Juvenile Detention Center Tucson, Ariz. , photo by Dean Knuth/Arizona Daily Star

It’s human nature to judge. We are raised on visual stimulation and assumptions from the early days. Think about the people and faces that have shaped our thinking from gender roles to “stranger danger”! There was no escaping it!!!

I still catch  myself making a quick assumption on occasions, then that little angel on my shoulder reminds me to look beyond the obvious and know there is much more happening. It’s perfectly normal to have thoughts that aren’t rainbows, unicorns, meditation imagery and the like. As a self proclaimed “yogi” I do more than roll out the mat, I live the philosophies as best I can. So when I had the option to volunteer for youth in jail, I passed the opportunity and recalled the “stories” I have heard in various trainings from other participants. It felt “scary” for me, more so I didn’t think I could connect…until… I was on a conference call listening to a center administrator share the following story(The boys in the center were from ages 12-17):


“The students look forward to Yoga Gangsters. There is one boy I want to tell you about. He landed in our facility from northern Florida. He came to us after committing his last act of violence and vandalism. This boy’s father killed his mother and then took his own life, so this boy was then placed with his Aunt. The boyfriend of the Aunt was molesting him, repeatedly…until the boy had enough. He took a baseball bat to the molester’s vehicle and threatened to beat him as well. The police placed this youth in custody and now he is here with us. The one bright point in his day, is yoga. I have noticed a change is his posture, eye contact and he doesn’t get as restless during the day.”

Thank goodness, I was on mute. They could not hear me crying or my vocal “WTF” and I was so grateful in that moment for countless things…

  • The mute button
  • The release of the last shred of judgment
  • The renewed sense of purpose

Judgment serves no one. It separates us from connection, compassion and the purest form of love. In that moment, I loved that faceless boy and the countless others beside him. He most likely appears “scary” with an “angry” look or holds himself in a protective and guarded manner. I can only imagine. What I do know is the light shined on those youth once a week in a way they were NEVER prepared for. He softened, he had something to look forward to and he had moments of pure connection.

It costs us $5k to fund year round yoga. Please help with whatever you can. It all adds up.



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