Sport Changers: Meet Rikers Island’s First Mindfulness Coach

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Three years in the past, Oneika Mays started a brand new job as a mindfulness coach. She hung tapestries on her workplace partitions, laid down outsized yoga mats, and ready to start out advising guests. However Mays doesn’t work at a yoga studio or a wellness heart. She is the primary mindfulness coach at Rikers Island in New York, one of many nation’s largest and most infamous jails.

In her function, the Brooklyn–primarily based yoga teacher and therapeutic massage therapist works with inmates to assist them deal with being jailed and to assemble the emotional instruments they might want to re-enter their communities when they’re ultimately launched.

30: The variety of individuals on the ready checklist to take part in Oneika’s program

An interior dialog

On the 413-acre complicated, Mays spends most of her time working within the girls’s jail and within the amenities for transgender inmates. She leads a number of group meditation and asana courses, however works primarily one-on-one with individuals who come for yoga, therapeutic motion observe, or classes on self-massage for ache reduction. Some simply come for dialog. Her periods are so wanted that she generally has a ready checklist of 30 individuals who need to see her.

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Mays says her work is to assist them see themselves. “[Mindfulness] is an invite for individuals to have a dialog with themselves,” she says. She makes each effort to shift the facility dynamic—to surrender her energy as a instructor—in order that college students really feel answerable for their very own observe. That is particularly vital for individuals whose freedoms are restricted.

“The large response for most people is, ‘Oh, I really feel so relaxed proper now,’ and that’s a extremely highly effective factor in an setting like Rikers,” she says.

Practising lovingkindness meditation helps Mays make peace along with her work within the jail system. Via her observe, she has discovered a way of interior freedom she will share with individuals behind bars.

See additionally: How the Transformational Yoga Mission Is Serving to Prisoners Discover Peace

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