January ’12 Interview with Natalie Smith
Director of Yoga Behind Bars, Seattle WA
JS: How did you end up with this incredible job?
NS: While studying psychology in college, I discovered my passion for healing professions. I worked as a yoga teacher and at a Wellness Center. I was also involved with a progressive newspaper, anti-war activism, and social justice issues. Randomly one day in a yoga class, I met the founder of Yoga Behind Bars, Shayna. The two of us worked together for awhile in the beginning stages, and eventually I took over. Years later, there is now a full time staff, board of directors, interns and an office space!
JS: What would you say is the best and the hardest parts of your job?
NS: My job requires me to go to places that are uncomfortable and find the places that are comfortable. Everyone involved becomes transformed by the work.
JS: What advice do you have for your 20 year old self?
NS: Listen to your heart, there is wisdom in your intuition, a sense of peace. The thing that gives you a feeling of peace is what you should be doing…not your mind, others’ opinions, not any polls or surveys about what “X” person should do for a career.
JS: Do you have any regrets?
NS: Not having enough confidence in my abilities to do the work. The truth is if you care about something and you’re willing to learn and admit mistakes, you can learn a lot and be really effective in running an organization. It took me a long time to want to be director.
JS: Are there any major qualifications to work at Yoga Behind Bars?
NS: Everyone has to be a certified yoga teacher because the quality of teaching is important due to the degree of injuries and trauma that the incarcerated populations are plagued with.