Prisoners’ Stories and Comments

Caren McLean was the recipient of the 2015 NZMHF Creative Media Fellowship for her work on ‘Flash Point’, the novel she is writing about her recovery journey and her time in AWP.

This work has the support of Penguin Random House. She also won membership to the NZ Society of Authors through receiving the award and $5000 to enable her to travel and complete interviews with other women who have been in prison.

Words From Inside

Here at YEPT we’re driven by the positive changes yoga in prison can effect. Some days it’s hard when you’re constantly passing around the tin cup for funding, and you’re facing your own life challenges

And then we receive words like the below and it brings everything into perspective. Just knowing how our work has benefited just one person tops up our energy reserves and injects passion and love into everything we do.

It says it all, doesn’t it?

“I remember my first day inside discovering I was off to a yoga class. It was totally de-stabilising at the outset then strangely calming once I began the stretches I had done in my corporate career-mother life.

On day one in Arohata I had never met any of the women before, aside from after unlock and being taken to the gym for the class. Everyone was talking at me yet others were just staring at me trying to fathom out the new white girl with no tats and an educated voice. I was beyond scared.

Sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat with these women in front of, behind, and beside me was quite bizarre. There was tension in some areas, laughter in others. Within minutes I was face to face with scars like I have never seen or felt. Stab wounds, gunshot scars, pregnant bellies … tattoos all over the place. Hardened knuckles and world-weary faces.  Yet the beauty and grace of some of these women was undeniable. Some of the toughest had the most gentle energy as the yoga class deepened. The sadness and their feelings were palpable.

I wanted to cry but also felt a real peace. I was safe, at last, at least from my own crazy self that had been drinking and drowning my very essence in a world full of addicts and violence. I was feeling the edges of my body without anyone hurting me.

It opened my heart and soul on the first day of a 3½ month journey as a PRN number in Arohata, with my name on the door and a key to lock me behind it. Had yoga not greeted me on day one my whole journey in Arohata could have been so different. I was suicidal before the class. After it, I was open to making jail work for me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping and bringing yoga to the prison system.”

An inside look at Hawke’s Bay prison’s yoga class

In November 2016, Stuff Online published a wonderful article on an inside look at Hawke’s Bay prison’s yoga class.

Watch the video

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