Orange is the New Black Returns: What Can We Learn from Yoga Jones?

Samantha Allen
Orange is the New Black Returns: What Can We Learn from Yoga Jones?

The third season of Orange is the New Black has finally arrived. Let the binge watching begin!

And while you’re up watching every single episode in one night, you might as well take in some wisdom from Piper’s fellow inmate, Erica “Yoga” Jones. As you might guess, Yoga Jones teaches yoga at the prison. This character is by no means perfect, but despite her unsavory past, we yogis can learn a lot from her commitment to yoga and meditation.

Besides, who among us is perfect? Here’s what you can learn from Yoga Jones.

1. Life is truly all about perspective.

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Imagine being confined to prison for years on end with little to do but contemplate your unhappy past. It’s all too easy to become demoralized, and no matter how long or short a sentence is, it can feel like a lifetime of unhappiness. But whether you’re stuck in prison, or just stuck in a life you’re unhappy with, it's all about perspective. You can’t always control the events in your life, but you can control how you react to them.

Try taking a new perspective on a situation that’s beyond your control. Instead of taking a negative attitude, try to see what you can learn. Surviving life--and incarceration—-is all about perspective. Even the worst situations have a lesson to offer.

2. Suffering is temporary.

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This is a big one. Prison is a different kind of suffering than most of us experience, but the fact is, everyone faces hardship and suffering.

Yoga Jones knows that everything is temporary, especially suffering. The only constant in life is change, and that means that your suffering will certainly pass. If you keep this in mind, you can learn not to become too attached to your suffering. When you understand that it’s only temporary, you don’t have to become invested in those negative thoughts; you can simply notice them and allow them to pass.

3. Self-forgiveness is possible, no matter what’s in your past.

 

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The most toxic thoughts are often the ones that keep us stuck in our past. We’ve all made mistakes, and it’s easy to let those past mistakes haunt us long into the future.

Yoga Jones’ past is far darker than what most of us experience. But through her Buddhist faith, she practices universal love and compassion—-and that applies to herself as well. If you truly want to live in the present, you must forgive yourself for the past. You deserve love and self-love, simply by virtue of existing on this earth. Forgive yourself; you are deserving.

4. When all else seems lost, you can always find peace in yourself and in your yoga.

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Yoga Jones is known for being kind of a loner. While she does have friends among the other inmates at Litchfield Prison, in the end, she’s a bit of a loner who finds comfort in her spirituality. The actress who plays Yoga Jones, Constance Shulman, said of her character that she tries to remain unattached to temporary and material things. “When you go to prison this happens anyway. You have very little that is your own.”

Even if you’re not in prison, you will surely encounter times in your life when you feel lost, when you feel stretched too thin, or when you can no longer depend on material comforts. But if you can honor yourself and find your spiritual center, you’ll never be truly alone. No matter what happens, you can find peace in yourself.

5. It’s never too late to turn your life around. (SPOILER ALERT!)

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Yoga Jones is in prison for a reason. Though she’s focused on spirituality, yoga, and universal love and compassion now, she hasn’t always been this way. Yoga Jones used to be “a good old fashioned drunk,” and her addiction to alcohol came with deadly consequences. After drinking one night, Yoga Jones took a gun to the small pot farm she grew on her land. Too drunk to truly understand her actions, she shot and killed an 8-year-old boy she believed to be a deer.

This mistake, caused by her alcoholism, changed the course of her life. But as she knows, it’s never too late to change. Yoga Jones has changed her ways. Instead of drinking, she meditates. Instead of despairing, she practices yoga. Though she is still doing time for her actions, it’s safe to say that through her spirituality, Yoga Jones has turned her life around. And those changes will last even after she gets out of Litchfield Prison.

Who is YOUR favorite character on Orange is the New Black? What can you learn from Piper, Sophia, and even Crazy Eyes?