Florida Judge Eleni Derke teaches yoga on the lawn of the Duval County courthouse in Jacksonville as a way to help everyone de-stress.
“About two years ago the president of the Jacksonville Bar Association asked me to head up the health committee, and I thought, ‘What better way to stay healthy than to do yoga?’ So I started teaching yoga on the lawn every first Friday of every month,” Derke said on “Good Morning America” after removing her judicial robe to reveal her yoga clothes underneath.
“Right now we’re just getting members of the legal community but the class is open to everybody because, you know, at the courthouse, people need yoga. High-stress situations,” she said with a laugh.
Derke, who rules on misdemeanor crimes and civil lawsuits, said she even gets her jurors involved to keep them invigorated and awake during long trials.
“When you have a lengthy trial, those poor guys, they just sit in those chairs for so many hours,” she said. “I don’t make them, but I usually just say, 'Why don’t we all just stand up? Inhale the arms overhead. Take a deep breath in and exhale them back down.' That energizes them. No falling asleep on my watch.
“It’s for their own good,” the judge added.
Derke said yoga is a great relaxation method for everyone to de-stress, but that it’s “especially” beneficial to “the legal communities.”
“You know, yoga is the best form of stress release and by definition, the legal community is an adversarial system. So it’s just made for a high-stress situation,” she explained. “These attorneys, they’re in the courtroom, they’re warriors in there, so they come out here and then they’re warriors on their mat. We get them to de-stress, they can re-focus, and then they can go back and do their jobs just right.”