Downward Dog with Deviants

The following excerpt describes the interview process in the authors’ study, as well as the fluctuating moods and behaviors that many prisoners experience after beginning meditation and yoga. Farias and Wikholm discuss the dangerous effects that prisoners might have when they are too aware of their emotions, sharing a letter from an inmate. Downward Dog with Deviants – Yoga For Prisoners     The interview process was quite full on keen to get as many participants as we could, I would often interview several prisoners a day. The majority went very smoothly. All the prisoners were taking part voluntarily, and all of them wanted to do the yoga, so it’s probably not surprising that they were generally co-operative. Many also seemed to be pleased to have the opportunity to speak to a human being who wasn’t a prison officer or another prisoner, even if the conversations mostly involved me asking them about 200 closed questions regarding their mood and behavior. Only a couple of times did I find myself in an uncomfortable situation. Once, I had to halt an interview midway. All was going well until the prisoner thought that the question ‘How guilty have you felt over the last week, on a scale of one to five?’ implied that he was guilty of his offense. His response was aggressive, raising his voice and slamming his hands down on the table. When he had calmed down enough to give his answer, it was a very emphatic ‘1’ (‘not at all’). We continued for about three more questions until I had to ask: ‘How ashamed have you felt over the last week?’ The response this time was an angry tirade of denial and fury at the criminal justice system – and it was the only time during the interviews that I…

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