Prison Yoga Project

Prison Yoga Project

Tattooed prisoners sit in quiet meditation or yoga poses while incarcerated. Several studies state that inmates taught yoga while in prison were significantly less likely to be reincarcerated upon release. This seems to be especially true with substance abuse offenders.

A 2002 study at Seattle’s North Rehabilitation Facility found that the recidivism rate for inmates who took a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat was 56%, a 25% improvement over recidivism rates for the general inmate population.

”Yoga and its emphasis on the power of a single breath has promoted for me a respect for life and a profound realization of the destructive force of violence.” – S.L.

In 2002, James Fox introduced yoga to the San Quentin Penitentiary to heal addictions, improve emotional literacy, resolve conflicts, and prevent violence. Thus, the Prison Yoga Project. The Project believes in restorative justice by providing prisoners with tools for self-rehabilitation. Yoga practices help prisoners realize self-control and foster accountability.

Most men in prison have become disassociated from their feelings and bodies as a result of backgrounds of neglect or abuse, violent behavior, and the overuse of alcohol and drugs. The Prison Yoga Project helps students reclaim a sensitivity to themselves through a practice of self-awareness and self-control that instills non-reactivity and self-acceptance.

The classes help free the mind and body from confusion and distress, allowing one to be at peace and receptive to new ways of thinking by engaging students in appealing yet challenging postures (asanas), conscious breathing (pranayama), and short periods of meditation.

Discipline of the mind and body is integral for developing positive behavioral habits and impulse control. The ethical code of conduct and behavior that defines a Yoga practitioner’s way of life is underscored. The program promotes non-competitiveness and intentionally fosters community building through cooperative group participation.

The Yoga Prison Project is affiliated with the Give Back Yoga Foundation, which believes in making yoga available to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the powerful transformational benefits of yoga. The Give Back Yoga Foundation supports funding for certified yoga instructors interested in teaching at-risk populations in prisons, rehabilitation facilities, and community programs.

The Prison Yoga Project advises prisons, private entities, and individuals about establishing yoga programs as part of a rehabilitation program and provides an already proven effective curriculum and facilitation protocol.