In prison, as an inmate, no one is going to care more about you than you. This is a maxim we all have to learn. Especially now with the threat of Covid-19. If you don’t care enough about yourself to take the necessary steps to be safe, like wearing your face mask properly, washing your hands frequently and maintaining social distance, the staff sure aren’t going to.

The typical day for me starts with going to work, I wear a mask, I wash my hands and I try to maintain social distance. But I live and work with individuals that don’t understand the gravity of this situation. I think that being in this closed environment lends to a feeling of invincibility, we’re fooled into this by the thought of, “Until it happens, it doesn’t seem real, so why should we follow the guidelines?” This is the popular opinion, and try as I might, it takes a herculean effort to keep people from standing right next to me. 

Prison is not designed for this pandemic.

I have to go through a “clean room,” remove my clothing, pass a metal detector, don work clothes, all while trying to take precautions. Truth be told, out of 60 or so guys I work with, only three others take this pandemic seriously.

The guards and staff don’t really enforce any of the guidelines.  Heck, they can barely maintain their own precautions. Prison is not designed for this pandemic. By nature, we’re all stuffed in here like sardines, and expecting us to maintain social distance is ludicrous. In places like the kitchen, it is literally impossible.

Life for us has taken another turn, for ill or good has yet to be seen. Our religious activity center has been transformed into a holding center for all of the prisoners on the east side of the state who have COVID.  They put a fence around it and staff entering and leaving are to take special precautions – do they? Not from what I have seen. So it is just a matter of time before it gets out. In fact, the institution is now taking the Gym Center and making it another COVID crisis center. To say I’m worried about my health is an understatement.

Students are more in tune and ready for some yoga.

The one place where I can find some solitude from this madness is in my yoga classes. I enjoy teaching and offering a yoga class to men who are there to find some tranquility, too. It seems now my students are more in tune and ready for some yoga.

We now spend a small amount of time cleaning the mats and blocks we’re going to be using before our practice, and after. My class size has been cut from 15 to seven so we can maintain social distancing in the room. This gives me more time to attend to the specific needs of each of my students, which is a win-win for both of us. The classroom is a bit stuffy now that we can’t use the fans to circulate the air, and our time is always in flux, but for the most part we get to spend more than an hour practicing mindful yoga.

For me, yoga has always been a go-to for alleviating stress. Now I see this in all of my classes as the men come in to get away from the chaos of normal prison life.

Dwayne S. #986725 AHCC

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