Mohan Kumar, who has been in the Bangalore Central Jail for 12 years, has found his peace

Mohan Kumar, or Mohan Bihari as he is more familiarly known (for his native state, Bihar), has been a prison inmate in the Bangalore Central jail for the past 12 years.

Yet, he has managed to transform the lives of over a hundred other inmates by conducting trauma and stress relief programs designed by the Art of Living Foundation.

Mohan is one of 30 others who have reached out to more than 2,500 inmates with these programmes across seven prisons in Karnataka, including the Bangalore central jail and prisons in Bidar, Bellary, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Dharwad and Mysore.

Mohan first undertook the programme in 2006, but began regular practise in 2012 after a second session. “That was when I realised that my health has improved. Earlier, I was almost constantly in tension, since I have been in jail for the past 12 years. After taking the programme all my tension was released. The yoga and breathing techniques transformed my thinking and perspective,” he explains during an interaction at the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore.

“I was scattered and spaced out even while talking to people, but now I have found mental peace.” Post his transformation, he is quite proud to share that he has been made the jail’s MLA (an internal responsibility), this means that he is now responsible for overseeing the kitchen and the meals for over 4,000 inmates.

“What I feel really happy about,” he says, “is teaching yoga and pranayamas because it helps my countrymen. Then they don’t need to go to the doctor as much. I can see their energy levels visibly improve when they practise these techniques. Their minds are also able to come to the present and be at peace.”

Their self-esteem, he observes also improves dramatically. “Earlier, I would have felt that I didn’t deserve to talk to you.”

Mohan Kumar now looks forward to be released. “I want to see my family, I haven’t seen my parents in 12 years. Once I go out, I will either take up agriculture on my father’s land, or continue to teach these programs. But I will definitely make money to run my family,” says 32-year old Mohan.

“My life has not been happy so far. But when I do yoga, I realise that everybody faces sorrows in life and like everything else, they come and go.”