In May, Harambee Arts returned to the prison with Margaret and Ann from Africa Yoga Project for more yoga and expressive arts.
Margaret and Ann taught two yoga classes while Sofia led the women through drawing Gratitude Mandalas. They are both fantastic yoga teachers, with an ideal balance of discipline and humour. Their classes combine yoga with music and even a little dancing while in warrior position! During the class each woman visibly experiences several emotions or feelings from frustration and pain to joy and strength. This can be seen in their expressions- bright smiles and giggles or contorted faces of discomfort! By the end of class each woman has completely worked her body and mind. When asked how they feel, afterwards they excitedly say, “We feel NICE!”
While one group practices yoga the other group works with Sofia using expressive art. This month we explored the therapeutic tool of gratitude mandalas. Mandala in Sanskrit means ‘circle’. Drawing Mandalas is useful in helping the mind focus and meditate on one space and therefore aids in calming the mind into the present (similar to the practice of Yoga). Gratitude Mandalas furthermore help us take account and bring awareness to the present moment and what we are grateful for in that moment. The women first listed what they were grateful for in the present and then represented it within their Mandalas through drawings and the words- ‘Thank You For This Moment’ or ‘Asante Kwa Sahi’ in Swahili.
They listed and expressed in their mandalas such things as:
“I am happy for this time cos I am not sick.”
“I am happy for the gift of life!”
“I am grateful for the sunshine and fresh air, the food, chatting and exercise.”
“At the moment I am grateful for feeling happy and good health-wise. I love the jokes we have together, it makes us feel at home.”
“I am grateful for being able to accept the things I cannot change and for living one day at a time without any undue expectations.”
After yoga and drawing we ate a filling lunch together. We then put on music and had a little dance party!
Another inspiring, fun, laughter filled day
with our sisters at Langata Prison!