When David Westlake was young, he grew up in an impoverished part of town. Many of his friends–the kids on his wrestling team–were at-risk, but David didn’t know any different. When he got older, he found that a lot of them became the “bad kids,” and he developed a heart for reaching people who struggle with the law.
After years of working full-time as a yoga instructor and feeling like something was missing, a man said to David, “You would be really good at prison yoga.” The comment sunk deep and planted a seed. David reached out to a friend of his who was doing it, and he said, “We’re ready for you. Come join us!” It was then that David began what he calls his “real work.”
With his wife Darcy and his father, David founded a non-profit called Turiya of Alaska and began taking yoga into the Anchorage prison system. Turiya is a yoga word that means many things, but David summarizes it with the word “gap,” such as a way to get out, be free, and break a circle of suffering.
David currently offers two classes per week at the Anchorage Correctional Complex. Three months into business, he has been calling prisons regarding his services. David will soon start a training program in Seward.
“Some of these guys come up to me after class with a smile on their face and simply say, ‘thank you.’ I like to think that for just a moment we were able to touch their lives for the better.” David would like to give a shout-out to his wife Darcy who is a constant presence and force behind-the-scenes, making Turiya possible by her work.