Information for Prisons, Secure Hospitals and Approved Premises
The Prison Phoenix Trust was established in 1988 to encourage prisoners to practise yoga and meditation, based on silence and the breath.
In 2012, Oxford University conducted quantitative research on the benefits of yoga and meditation for prisoners. You can read their paper on the research, entitled "Participation in a 10-week course of yoga improves behavioural control and decreases psychological distress in a prison population" published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in July 2013.
In over a third of UK and Irish prisons, yoga and meditation classes are part of the prison regime. The classes help inmates to reduce aggression and drug use, and develop self-discipline, a stronger will, better mental health, improved self-confidence and a greater sense of responsibility. Some prisons have classes for staff too. We also work in secure hospitals and approved premises.
Prisoners can order free books from us and practise on their own in their cells.
We also encourage them in their efforts with personal correspondence and a quarterly newsletter, written partly by the inmates themselves. Newsletters are sent to every institution in the UK and Ireland.
Within the Prison Service the Trust has strong links at all levels.
Recently we have worked with the Prison Service Training College, the Prison Officers Association and with Prison Chaplains, many of whom use our written materials. Two Prison Governors and a NOMS Regional Manager of Custodial Services act as consultants to the Trust. We have a former Prison Governor and Area Manager on our board of Trustees. A governing governor who edits the Prison Service Journal joined the board of Trustees in 2013.
We prepare teachers for prison.
We work only work with qualified yoga teachers, and train them for the specialist work in prisons, focussing on security, professional boundaries and working smoothly with prison systems and staff. Our course is accredited by the British Wheel of Yoga, the national body for yoga in the UK. We offer on-going support to prison yoga teachers through training days and a phone line, and can help the teacher or the prison trouble shoot challenges that arise with the class.
Prof. Alison Liebling, Director, Prisons Research Centre
Mr Luke Serjeant, Deputy Director Custody, West Midlands Region
Imam Monawar Hussain DL, Muslim Tutor, Eton College
George Coppen, Anglican priest and former prison psychotherapist at HMP Grendon