Prisoners take part in a yoga class. (Photo courtesy of Bachr Ra)
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"Going to yoga and moving through the poses, I felt more free from the inside.Human rights NGO Alef said in its 2017 annual report that as of June 2017, 6,246 individuals were held in 23 prisons across the country originally designed to hold a total of 3,500 inmates.A few months into Jad's sentence, 35-year-old Bachir Ra entered Roumieh for the first time. Ra wasn't an inmate; rather he had come to teach his first yoga class, which would take place twice weekly within the prison's walls. The idea of yoga in Roumieh was initially dismissed by the prisoners. They came to mock me," Ra said. He framed it, however, as a stretching class, emphasizing the physical aspects of yoga rather than the spiritual ones. Ra's program has gone from strength to strength. Having started with his small class of 20, he has now set up his own NGO, Survivors, and works alongside a number of other NGOs to teach classes in every prison across Lebanon.
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