Learn how to be happy here in the present
Every Sunday around 1 p.m., Dr. Steven Landau invites inmates at Wake Correctional Center to his yoga class.
"Learn how to be happy here in the present and even happier when you get out," he saysover the loud speaker.
Louis Allen, a Durham man who is in prison for the third time, walks in. "At first I was real hesitant
because I thought it was a girl thing. And I didn't want that family, being away from your friends, the
anxiety of reentering society, the current situation right now in the world with the economy, the joblessness,
all that plays a part in an individual who has a strike against him.
So the anxiety tends to build," said
Wesley Moliere, an inmate who has attended the classes for about three months. "You get a sense of calm and
relaxation through it. And in a situation like this, calm and relaxation doesn't come easy," he added.
Dr. Landau says yoga accomplishes something that other prison programs don't. "The data shows, from other
studies, that simply giving them the skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, air conditioning, GED, does not
improve their recidivism rate. It does not improve the rate at which they come back. But shifting the
personality does," he said. Landau did a study that shows that inmates who took his yoga class more than four
times had an eight percent chance of returning to prison within two years. The inmates who attended less than
four times had a 25 percent chance of going back to prison. Louis Allen says the class has taught him to think
before he acts. "Once you learn to deal with your mental thoughts and control them better, it's a lot easier
in life. And as far as going out, I don't think I'll have no problem staying out this time," he said. That is
Dr. Landau's hope. "To give people the opportunity of changing the mind so that they can exit back into society
as a free person and actually be a free person," he said.