I have never met Aisha, only spoken to her on the phone and exchanged emails, but I am thoroughly impressed with her work.
It was Aisha’s idea to approach authorities to let her teach woman prisoners. Fortunately for her it was smooth sail and she is doing her bit to help them live. In the past two years, she has taught 30 to 40 prisoners in the age group of 20 to 40 and some prisoners’ children too.
It is optional for prisoners to join her class. She teaches these women for free, but their “warmth and genuine happiness recharges her battery”.
Chapra discovered yoga as she was trying to tide over a bad patch. She was, as she puts it, depressed, disoriented and directionless and it was yoga that gave her peace.
Her first class in prison wasn’t easy but her experience as a social worker helped her pull through. She had scores of women and children watching her, some ridiculing her and few participating. However, as the days passed, she became friends with the prisoners by listening to their stories and even massaging their sore muscles. “Soon I was their friend, listening to their woes and counseling them,” she says.
Chapra's stint at the jail has been a great lesson in life. “I get as much from them as I give them. I admire them for being strong and having faith, despite their circumstances.”
For Chapra, the connection with these women is special. “It is this desire to access freedom from within, to liberate in a way that inspires, moves and lifts me outside of myself. I know it is their strength, their incredible compassion that I feel at the end of the class.”
“Weeks and months have gone by and now these women and their children have become a part of my life. A part of the answer which I was so desperately searching for. And every week they give me something to smile about, a new story to share, and a new lesson to learn, while giving me a consistent dose of inspiration,” Aisha posted on her blog.
But women will always be women and they can't stop nagging Aisha about this: how do get rid of the flab on the stomach!!