Get involved!

Volunteer with Freeing the Human Spirit. Your involvement will support our mission and change lives.

What’s the gig?

The main requirement is for teachers to teach yoga and/or meditation in prisons across Canada. To do so, volunteers will be required to be approved by the prison system and provide personal information prior to securing that, to teach at any institution. There is a secondary requirement for volunteers to help with the organization of the charity, maintaining volunteer and donor databases, developing communications to volunteers, donors and any interested parties (website, newsletters and social media).

What’s it like?

  • Teaching in prison is very rewarding. The inmates are very thankful for the teachers’ presence and they are very dedicated to their practice of yoga and meditation
  • The skill level of the inmate population with respect to yoga or meditation tends to be diverse, like an open yoga class, and, as a result, there is some challenge to accommodating new students while keeping more adept students interested
  • The inmates are generally not clad in Lululemon attire, but dressed in loose, suitable clothing
  • There is usually a period of time when the volunteer is in the Chapel or some other room and ready to teach, but the inmates arrive in a staggered schedule due to institutional procedures. Similarly, the end of a class may be driven by an institutional matter, rather than the class schedule. There are occasions when a class is cancelled due to a lockdown or other institutional matter.
  • There are a variety of safety measures in place to ensure the safety of the teacher and these may include one or more of the following: guards may be observing; the chaplain is nearby and aware; the volunteer will likely be provided with a Personal Portable Alarm System; there are often emergency buttons on the wall of the ‘class’. Most importantly the inmates are grateful for the volunteer’s time and commitment, so they have little incentive to harm any volunteer.

What are we doing?

  • We are seeking volunteers to professionally teach yoga, meditation or both.
  • We have a mostly Ontario-based set of institutions that we currently serve, but we seek to expand that, both at the federal and provincial levels
  • Volunteers should have access to a vehicle to take them to the institution closest to them. From a practical standpoint, this is likely to be within 100 km of their home
  • We have sought volunteers from organizations that are involved in the teaching of yoga and meditation, and this has been productive
  • It may be that a volunteer can teach both yoga and meditation, which would enable them to teach on their own. Alternatively, either due to the lack of teaching capability in one or the other of yoga and meditation, or a reservation about teaching solo, there may be two teachers involved. And due to the number of 8 week courses that can be held in a year, it may be that volunteers do not wish to be teaching on a steady basis throughout the year.

Yoga

The principal elements of the hatha yoga teaching include:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Sun salutations
  • Leg raises
  • Inversions (e.g. headstand, shoulder stand, plough)
  • 11 or more asanas (e.g. bridge, fish, forward bend, inclined plane, cobra, locust, bow, half spinal twist, crow, standing forward bend, triangle)
  • Final relaxation

Meditation

The Soto zen practice involves:

  • Instruction as to the proper posture of zazen: sitting; hand, eye, upper body and head placement (as required)
  • Instruction as to the posture of the breath; the vigilant attitude of the practice; and the posture of the mind
  • Just sitting
  • Kinhin, or walking meditation, if there is sufficient time

Get Involved & Make A Difference.

Your support keeps us going. Please get in touch.