GIG HARBOR, Wash. -– After watching the women who calmly enter a prison activity room and spend two hours a week practicing yoga, it is hard to imagine that any one of them is serving hard time.
But several of the women have been convicted of serious crimes, including murder. Yoga classes at the Washington Correctional Center for Women provide an escape from the inmates' sometimes volatile lives behind bars.
One of the women, Alyssa Knight, wears glasses as she glides between yoga positions. She resembles a college student, not a convicted criminal, but she is now eight years into a 21-year sentence for second-degree murder.
"I just ended up hanging out with some guys that decided to rob somebody, and in the course of that, they shot the guy," she said.
It was a costly lesson for Knight, who was a college student at the time. But yoga is helping her put that lesson into focus.
"It's all about balance," she said. "Not just balance when you"re standing on your mat, but balance within, and a way to look at the world, to find peace in any situation."