Friday, April 20, 2012

Yogi Bryan the Magnificent: Christmas Tidings from Dillwyn State Prison

Bryan Shull, 39, learned the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga in the Richmond City Jail.  He has been practicing yoga on his own without a mat in state prison since August 2010.  This letter, again from Dillwyn state prison, is the second in a series.  (Bryan has since been moved twice and is now in Haynesville prison.) To see Bryan's original handwritten letter, click here.

22 December, 2010

Dear Robbie,

Please forgive my delay of a return in correspondence, as the Christmas rush to finish all these Santa envelopes and accompanying letters was way more time consuming than originally thought!

However, sitting in front of the T. V. & doing these while watching Christmas specials was the highlight of my Holiday season!  Do you remember this from the old Miller & Rhoads ads?

note: click image to enlarge

I’m glad you enjoyed the last envelope & I will continue to send you things as time goes by, and will include what I hope will be a sufficient release for you?  It would certainly be very pleasing to feel I have anything to contribute to the encouragement of others.

The circumstances of difficulty I was speaking of, are that “officially” we are to do no exercise in the building period, not even a push-up.  Although we have a (I guess) Muslim in the building who prays in a very small area on a “prayer rug” which is about the size of a floor mat in a car?

And I have been waiting until lights out & doing my practice in the same corner, very carefully, with help (a lookout) & am aware that once a guard walks by & realizes I’m sweating & obviously exercising.  I’m sure there will be a problem!  My way of thinking so far has been, not to get caught & have that conversation!  So I have been getting by: but have no mat and the tile floor is for one gross, & once sweaty slippery & it’s hard on my toes especially among other things (lol). Which I feel is compromising to my practice?


I have been filling out a request form, asking permission to have a mat, that I was not going to discuss where would be used?  Because, I had listened when you spoke in class about people in other locales or further back in time practicing outside with no mat.  I had a very good summer outside practicing in the grass, the cool thing is if it gets wet you just move! (But it would have been better with a mat there, too!)  I’ve been getting the runaround, like I get the form back and it says it’s not an approved item so, I send one in asking to get one approved & I get it back saying it’s not an item on the property list? (Like I said the runaround.)  It’s not like dealing with Father Pruitt [the Richmond City Jail Chaplain who makes the yoga class possible].  But if I could get them to first let me have it, later I could worry about where it gets used? I have to get one for it to matter!

I wonder if they can have a prayer rug … what’s the big deal?  I even tried using one (not possible for reasons I will not begin to try and illustrate here).  I wish there was a way to show them one? & explain to them what’s up.  But I just am allowed the form, not a actual person?

It’s very screwy the process we must go through to order a book, we have to fill out a request form & get permission for the book in question! It seems as though “they” want to protect us from learning?

I am not trying to sound like a skeptic.  It’s just that some of these things seem excessive!

And I would love for you to visit, anytime.  I am always here and you are allowed.  The only problem would be if you are a felon, which I don’t think you are!  My visitation days are every weekend on the even dated day, for instance if Saturday is the 11th and Sunday the 12th my day that weekend would be the 12th.  It would be great to see you.

We are allowed person to person visits (we don’t have to talk on a phone through glass or anything) & they have vending machines and it’s very laid back.

If you have any additional questions I know it sounds funny but my mother knows everything about this place almost! But she’s talkative, so I warned you! Go figure. (Hah)

And … I will keep practicing no matter what!  I dated a girl one time and we used to go out a lot, so had this expression “dance through life as though no one’s watching.”  And this is sometimes a scary place, I hate to admit it but it is. 

And I just practice!  I don’t care what’s going on around me.  And I’ve seen it all believe me.

Finishing these envelopes I lost a couple of days and it was hard getting back started and I felt like crap!  It really is something you’ve got to do every day!

One thing I’ve learned is with earplugs in you can focus on mindful breathing and dristi easier?  It provides isolation and you can hear yourself breathing?  Sorry if the letter is a bit of a ramble as I was saying the late night envelope thing has taken its toll! 

Merry Christmas!

Bryan the Magnificent!

Ps – I have since the beginning of this letter found out that the book policy has been changed to allow us to receive books if shipped from the publisher, I see this as an improvement!

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