Prison yoga brings flexibility for inmates who've bent the rules

First published on FeckTV, 12/1/13, Jason Darrell.

No, you're not reading that incorrectly. Prison yoga is very much on the increase here in the UK.  And, it seems, all across the globe.

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Prison Yoga delivers a happy release

We've been aware of the spiritual and physical benefits attributed to yoga for some time. But as a way to turn around convicted criminals?

Maybe so, if the latest reports are on the money. More than half of the corrective facilities in the UK and Ireland run one type of yoga or meditation class or another.

Mexican jails, American penal facilities and UK prisons are all adopting various disciplines. Both male and female prisoners alike are being taught yoga's stress-relieving powers.

The positive effect prison yoga and mindful meditation is having on inmates is uniform.  Testimonials from inmates back up the claims of the organisations that provide prison yoga: it works!

Yoga breaks down prison barriers

It's a two-way street, too.  Organisations are using yoga and meditation to help train instructors looking to further their career to incorporate 'at-risk' students.

I don't know about the pupils being at risk.  I wouldn't fancy putting myself before a bunch of inmates with nothing to protect me but a tracksuit and a mat.  But hey-ho.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="112"]Prison Yoga, Kindle Edition Prison Yoga, Kindle Edition[/caption]

Nonetheless, the success is measured.  Last year a study by Oxford University into comparative attitudes post-yoga and meditation courses proves conclusively that combining the two has a mellowing effect.

The premise of combining the art of yoga and meditation for prisoners (some prisons run courses for their staff, too) is to allow inmates freedom through their minds.

How to run a prison yoga workshop

The Prison Phoenix Trust is one of the largest organisations in the UK to provide prison yoga services.

Testimonials from prisoners on their site tell how anger management, violence and addiction problems have all been addressed through such programs.

As well as the physical and psychological benefits of prison yoga, the trust believes it helps strengthen relationships between prison staff and inmates, too.

If you'd like to know more, you can contact the Prison Phoenix Trust about its services. These include yoga workshops, classes, teaching guidelines and how to donate.

There is a current fund-raiser on the BigGive.org.uk site to give you some idea of the cost.  This particular prison yoga project is looking to raise £5,000 for 7 workshops.

Or, if you'd like to read up on the benefits of prison yoga before committing to a program, you can buy Alan Sugar's book, Prison Yoga, on Amazon.co.uk, for Kindle and other e-reader devices.

Have your say:

  • Should prison yoga be afforded to criminals to give them a feeling of freedom?

  • Or is this method of rehabilitation worth the expense, given the proven positive effect and reduced re-offender rates?

Photo Credit: Andrew Kalat via Compfight cc