I wonder how I should begin. Should I say I am happy or sorry to see you all here? Certainly I am not happy to see you in prison. At the same time I am happy to see you interested in Yoga and in making your lives more beautiful.

Some people say if you stand on your head for an hour you are a great Yogi. But I say, even before trying to stand on your head, learn to stand on your feet. Without knowing how to stand on your feet, what’s the use of standing on your head?

So the entire Yoga and, in fact, life itself, teaches us to stand on our feet. Don’t think that this is the only “correctional institution.” It makes me laugh to hear it referred to like that. Can you tell me one place where you are not corrected? From birth to death you are constantly corrected.

So in this sense we are all in some kind of prison. Living in the body itself is a prison. As souls we are limited in these bodies, whereas as spirit we could reach much farther. Why should we be limited in this way? Because we have certain truths to learn by living in the body — how to regulate and discipline our lives and use them well.

With this understanding you will want to correct or treat yourself. A prison is not a place of punishment or ordeal, a place of penance. In a way, I should say you are even fortunate to have a place like this. Why? Because you are protected from any unnecessary disturbances. You’re provided with food, lodging, medical care, seclusion, everything — giving you the opportunity to make use of this time to correct yourself. You can see it that way.

So make use of this opportunity. Don’t send out undesirable thoughts of hatred or resentment. In many institutions there is tension between the authorities and inmates. There is no need for it. Suffering is to be accepted. “If I didn’t need this experience, nobody could bring it to me. These people are only instruments.”

swami satchidananda