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← Yoga and meditation in Portuguese prisons | Inez Aires | TEDxPorto

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Showing Revision 5 created 02/21/2020 by Ivana Korom.

  1. What's the first thing
    that comes to your mind
  2. when you think about a prison,
  3. or jail,
  4. or any correctional facility?
  5. And what's the first thing
    that comes to your mind,
  6. when you think
    about a monastery or a convent?
  7. The image you're seeing on the screen
  8. is a drawing about a utopia.
  9. In 2013, as an environmental engineer,
  10. I was involved in
    the conception of a building
  11. that dealt with the rehabilitation
    of an old oil platform
  12. in the sea outside
    of San Francisco, California.
  13. The idea and the form how we restructured
    this project was based on the poetry
  14. of seeing prisons as places
    for the transformation of the brain.
  15. This prison was in the middle of the sea,
    so it didn't need walls.
  16. The ocean itself created enough isolation
  17. that prisoners needed to have
    to rethink their lives,
  18. to increase their conscience, depending
    on the acts they had committed.
  19. But that was a utopia.
  20. A project that was awarded prizes
    but didn't go ahead
  21. and this is the reality.
  22. A few years ago I had an opportunity
  23. to visit two prisons in the Americas.
  24. On your left side, you can see the prison
    Garcia Moreno, in Quito, Ecuador.
  25. And on the right, Tepic, Mexico, Nayarit.
  26. I visited the prison in Tepic
  27. because two friends had been
    unjustly incarcerated.
  28. I remember when I arrived at the prison,
  29. and looked at that enormous space,
  30. prisoners walking about
    and all the time they had in their hands.
  31. I remember talking to my friends,
  32. inspiring them, taking books to them
    so they could practice yoga,
  33. practice meditation and make the most
    of the countless time they had,
  34. while they waited to go to trial.
  35. For 18 years, yoga has been in my life.
  36. Yoga is a philosophy that integrates
  37. the three large components
    of what it means to be a human being:
  38. our minds, our bodies and our spirits.
  39. Yoga works as a philosophy
    that covers the mental part.
  40. It works as a physical exercise
  41. and, as the science that goes
    to the physical side, also our bodies.
  42. It is also an art,
  43. and helps us see the qualities
    and essences of our spirit better.
  44. So, the idea that we got this prize for,
  45. is about creating a national program,
  46. a platform that may gather
    all yoga teachers
  47. who may be interested,
    so they feel inspired
  48. to teach in a prison.
  49. Certified yoga and meditation teachers
  50. who are experienced and may bring
  51. the benefits of these techniques
    to prisons in Portugal.
  52. So, we distributed teachers
    across staggered time plans
  53. so they can go there weekly
    and so we may create a program
  54. that will help social reinsertion,
  55. to their physical transformation,
    their mental and brain transformation.
  56. It's true that most prisoners
  57. suffer from some kind of trauma
  58. that took place in their childhood
    or their adolescence,
  59. or even in their adulthood.
  60. And many times these unprocessed traumas
  61. lead them to commit criminal acts,
  62. or that, at the very least,
    are unlawful in their countries.
  63. So, we want to teach yoga as a tool
  64. that will help prisoners
  65. to have a relationship with their bodies
  66. and improve that relationship.
  67. Reestablishing the connection
    between body, mind and spirit,
  68. so they may manage their emotions better.
  69. So, we can look at the individual
    as something complete, holistic.
  70. This way, by increasing this sensitivity,
  71. we are able to look at others
    in another way,
  72. to increase our empathy with others,
  73. increase our compassion and reduce,
    ideally, the cycle of violence.
  74. Logically, it is also
    about dealing with vice.
  75. Yoga gives us techniques
    that we can use on the mat
  76. and also out of it.
  77. We can use them in class, or outside class
  78. and we can integrate
    all the dots in our lives.
  79. That's the idea and here's
    the transformational value of yoga.
  80. During class, one only listens
    and practices what the teacher suggests.
  81. But it is in our daily lives
    that we can really see
  82. that these tools will help us deal
  83. with our emotions and stress
  84. and how we deal with life.
  85. I suppose you have an idea
    about the many benefits.
  86. Yoga helps relieve stress,
    helps increase attention,
  87. focus, concentration.
  88. It gives us strength and physical health.
  89. When we feel better
    and stronger with our bodies
  90. we will also feel stronger
    with our self-esteem and our minds.
  91. Our thoughts become clearer,
    and so much more.
  92. There are many case studies
    of success worldwide.
  93. I studied projects
    in several states of the USA,
  94. in China, in France,
    and other countries of the EU.
  95. The results are fantastic.
  96. The idea was to bring yoga and meditation
  97. as a practice to help
    with social reinsertion,
  98. to give a new perspective
    on life to these people
  99. who need to be in their
    "compulsory retreat"
  100. and help them realize
    that they can change,
  101. they can transform, and can do
    something better with their lives.
  102. Meditation helps us to see
    things as they are
  103. and yoga is, without a doubt,
    the path to freedom
  104. when we can see ourselves
    as a whole being.
  105. Thank you.
  106. (Applause)