KENYA: Yoga in an African Prison

"We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing?" 

— Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras


Recently, I had the opportunity of traveling to Africa as a resident artist for Africa Yoga Project, an organization that seeks to empower individuals and strengthen communities on the African continent, through the practice of yoga, meditation, health education (HIV/AIDS) and social activism.

One of the places I visited, a Kenyan prison for women, brought me unexpected joy, when the inmates, many of whom are HIV positive, shared that yoga has become a rare source of happiness in their daily lives.

In the following images, I tried to capture this joy and the relaxing effects that this practice is bringing into their current reality. — Robert Sturman


ROBERT STURMAN is the official visual artist of 2005’s 47th Annual GRAMMY® Awards. He has formal training as a painter and photographer, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Following his degree, he completed a two-year apprenticeship with Carmel, CA-based master photographer William Giles, whose striking images have been said, “to have the impact of a Zen koan,” a description that could apply to Sturman’s imagery as well. He also studied for two years at the Memphis College of Art under acclaimed Italian painter John Torina, whose ephemeral, atmospheric landscapes are echoed in many of Sturman’s works. You can find out more about Robert’s work at his online studio and connect with him via Facebook and Twitter.