Prison officials in western India have introduced an innovative method for convicts to gain early releases thereby shortening their stretch in prison – Learn and master some yoga asanas and pass an exam.
Inmates at the Yerwada Central Jail in Maharashtra can shorten their sentences by up to 3 months if they impress wardens with their knowledge of the ancient Indian practice. A written exam as well as a physical exam is available and those who excel will receive remission.
The additional director general at the Maharashtra prison Bhushankumar Upadhyay said the tests will commence in January and will be held twice a year, and prisoners can achieve 3 months early release. He said the programme is aimed at improving the mental and physical well being of the prisoners, as yoga has been found to be positive and harmonising for one’s mental and physical energy.
The initiative at the prison in Pune is the latest in a long list of yogic programmes started since India’s yoga-loving leader Narendra Modi was elected prime minister last year. He even set up a ministry dedicated to promoting yoga and started free yoga classes for his government’s bureaucrats and their families.
Indian scholars believe yoga dates back 5000 years and refers to Yogic teachings in the ancient Hindu scriptures of the Vedas.
The popularity of yoga was marked in June by the observance of the first International Yoga Day.