Student Testimonials

“I am excellent. At doctor’s. My virus load is undetectable and CD4 over 500. I have the cure… YOGA!”

— HIV positive former Rikers Island inmate who continued yoga after release


“In the two months I’ve been here, and that includes nights, I haven’t felt this relaxed.”

Harold P. MDC


“[Through yoga,] I have discovered gratitude, and, rediscover more of it with each new day.  Damn, did I just say that??!!

— T.B. Rikers Island Rose M. Singer Center


“Some of the things I learned, like how to relax with the breath, and how to relieve the pain in my neck and shoulders, and the different stretches, is helpful. But what you said about the inner peace and finding your true self, that’s what I want!”  

J.C. Rikers Island AMKC Men’s jail


 “I am more focused now. My energy is not so erratic or scattered. More purposeful. I’ve actually begun to think of goals and purpose for myself and not others.”

— Rikers Island RMSC student, after 5 yoga classes


“Thanks for coming. I know this is not the ideal place to have a yoga class but for me it has been life changing.”

Rikers Island RMSC student


“Thanks to your yoga class, I have gotten off all five pain medications I was on [for my knee], and I can walk much better. I don’t even need my walking stick anymore.”  

R.D., Bedford Hills Maximum Security Correctional Center, started yoga classes at Bedford in 2013.


“Thank you for the classes… you were this presence in my life that, quietly, had a deep impact in my life. I will not back away from difficult things now. I will take ownership of myself.”

 — Rikers Island RMSC student who took yoga classes for 6 months.


After I quit drugs I got really depressed. With yoga I’m clean inside and out. I feel open, release stress, and think peaceful thoughts.  I’m proud of myself, and motivated.

J.K., Rikers Island RMSC


“I’ve often wanted to be dead. Yoga helps me to feel so good I feel like I want to help the world feel the same way I do.”

Rikers Island RMSC student


“This group is changing me. I noticed that I don’t have to go to the escape so much anymore – I don’t grab for the drugs – I can stay with the discomfort and I can feel the pain, and I know I’m going to be alright.”  

M. D., Rikers Island participant in Sex-Traffic survivor group


“[Yoga is] very relaxing. Feeling stress free even with all the DRAMA in the dorm at the time of the class.”

S.S., Rikers Island RMSC, yoga student

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“I learned how to listen to my body.”

— D.S., Rikers Island RMSC


“[In] this space of hell [I found] the sweetness of your program…Thank you for your joy and allowing me to recognize my own… I am no longer a spectator to my life but a participant in it… It is your ability to simply understand without saying a word that put me on the mat and somehow, somewhere on this tiny island, I became special.”

— M.B. RMSC Riker’s Island


“I have been doing this class with Melissa [Jhunja] for a good three months now and every time I am in a better place when she leaves. I am happy for the exercise – the mental exercise. Thank you.”  

C. H., RMSC Rikers Island


“They should have yoga every day.”

— M.L., Prenatal Unit, Riker’s Island

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“Yoga class is very good, I truly enjoy it. It makes you feel relaxed, and helps you to breathe better. Please continue the class.”

Cleve C. MDC


“The yoga practice provides a real mental and physical release while sitting in jail and not doing anything constructive. Thank you for your time, patience and your treatment of us.”

— D. C., RMSC Rikers Island


“Yoga class is very interesting. It helps me to release stress, pain, and other emotions, all the while strengthening my body. I look forward to yoga class next week and continuing upon my release in a few months.”

Dominick B. MDC


“It is happening.  I love my apt. I love my job. I hate my job.  I am normal.  I’m just about living a middle class life within a career that has great opportunity for vertical movement and you know where I was this time last year…for that matter, I have lived on the edges, the ledges of society for such a long time, looking to jump off as my only way out and, instead I climbed off my rooftop of fear and insecurity and pealed off the layers of abuse that I used for so long to keep me safe from being who I was and, step by step, floor by floor, I found the level of the earth and I am walking on…” 

M.T. — Excerpt from letter sent to Liberation Prison Yoga, nine months after being released from Rikers Island where she participated in our two-hour pilot program, including theme discussions, yoga, meditation, and free-flow writing. 

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