Geetha Thirugnanam, an Isha Foundation volunteer, recently facilitated a yoga session for inmates at the Ghaziabad Prison in Delhi, which involved practices specially designed by Sadhguru for the upcoming International Day of Yoga. Here’s her experience of the transformation she saw happening before her.

I had never been to a prison before. My experience was limited to the movies, and I still remember a scene where Amitabh Bachchan walks out of a prison with a toothpick in his mouth. So, as I travelled to the prison that day, I had a very “Bollywood” feeling and was quite thrilled. But the moment I stepped in and saw the prisoners involved in their daily chores, my experience changed.

Walking into the Ladies section, we saw the children born to mothers while they were in prison, who lived in the same place. The children seemed quite happy and unaffected by the environment, and were excited to see all the new people. But the women stared at us. Many NGOs had visited the prison in the past and the look on the inmates’ faces said very plainly, “Ooff! One more group.”

The way they danced, with joy in their eyes and smiles on their once tense faces, it was truly worth watching. Suddenly, the boundaries they held against us dissolved.

Our session was to be held during their daily chores timeslot and not many were interested in doing yoga. In fact, one lady scolded us saying we had come to mock their suffering. “Why should I do yoga? Will it end my term?” she asked.

Other women were having a bath and many queued up for their mug of tea – a most looked-forward-to event, which they did not like to part with. Nevertheless, knowing the importance of what my Guru had to offer, a volunteer and I tried to get their attention. We started playing games – frisbee and throw-ball. A few of the ladies were excited and joined in, but soon after, they left. It did not seem to work.

“What to do?” we wondered. “Ok, let’s go to the barracks and set up the video session,” we thought. Even in the barracks, no one wanted to have anything to do with us. In fact, they were irritated that we had even come in.

A few other volunteers began setting up the session, and we were all confused about how to get things going. We needed at least 30-40 people to come in. We tried clapping, calling and motivating them, but nothing moved. In despair, we called out, “Sadhguru, please help!”

There they sat in Namaskar, with eyes closed and tears flowing from sheer bliss and a sense of gratitude.

Then it struck us – music! Music would work. We played a few songs of Sounds of Isha, and it was magic. 60 ladies came into the barracks, inquisitive about what was happening. There was no looking back from there. We all started dancing. The way they danced, with joy in their eyes and smiles on their once tense faces, it was truly worth watching. Suddenly, the boundaries they held against us dissolved.

We started playing games. Women of all ages – many of whom had never run in their adult lives – screamed and held and hugged each other. The games dissolved everything. Then they sat for the session and my Master spun the magic. At the end of 90 minutes, those blessed souls were sitting peacefully with eyes closed.

40 participants learnt these powerful processes and the closing moments were so blissful. There they sat in Namaskar, with eyes closed and tears flowing from sheer bliss and a sense of gratitude.

The Power of Yoga & My Master’s Grace

So fortunate I am to have come within your embrace.
If it was not for you, oh my master, there I would be in the world living and ending my life without knowing the bliss of existing here and beyond.
My pranams to you and to all those who allowed me to experience the power of your grace.

Editor’s Note: Check out the 5-minute tools of transformation that Sadhguru has created for Yoga Day, that anyone can practice. You can also join or host a workshop, or train to become a facilitator.