Training offered to yoga teachers

The Prison Phoenix Trust does not train people to teach yoga, but rather how to work effectively in prison and other secure conditions. We are grateful for all current and past prison yoga teachers for passing on their experience of works in prison and what doesn’t.

Our training covers issues that teachers face when working in prison such as:

  • Rapport with prisoners, prison officers and staff
  • Authority and professional boundaries
  • Adapting yoga to meet all needs
  • The importance of silent breath-based meditation
  • Sex offenders and drug and alcohol rehabilitation
  • Current issues affecting prisons and prisoners
  • How to start up a class.

There are periodically training days on specific issues such as:

  • Keeping control of your prison class
  • Teaching young offenders
  • Yoga and addiction
  • Accrediting your yoga class.

What’s coming up

Autism Awareness for Prison Classes

Priority for this day is for yoga and meditation teachers already working or offering cover in prisons, secure hospitals, IRCs and bail hostels, or those about to begin.  The incidence of autism among prisoners is estimated to be higher than the general population. This day will help you identify signs of autism in your students in prison, and to practice those skills you already possess which will help you work effectively with them. Caroline Hearst, an ‘informed insider’ (she was relieved to discover she was autistic as an adult) and founder of Autism Matters, will lead us through an interactive and informative morning.

While the two other aspects of the day aren’t to do with autism, they fit the aim of informing and sharing experience for your teaching. We don’t often have the chance to hear the inner experience of our prisoner students, so we are fortunate that Richard, a former yoga student in Belmarsh and Winchester prisons, will share a spoken word performance about his experiences. He’ll join a general discussion afterwards. And there will be plenty of time to share challenges and what is working well in your prison classes. We will find time for yoga asana and seated meditation and a bring-and-share lunch and ample breaks provide a chance to talk with others engaged in this unique work. The cost is being kept low to minimise expenses for teachers travelling from a distance.

Wytham Village Hall, Oxford, Sunday 4th February, 2018 - £10

A day for prison yoga and meditation teachers in Ireland, North and South – Spring 2018

Illegal drug use is a destabilising influence in society and for individuals’ lives. And in prisons, their presence often stretches people – both prisoners and staff – beyond breaking point. Attempts to stop their entry, the medical aftermath when things go wrong, the drain on resources, and the violence, coercion and fear surrounding drugs affects the Irish Prison Service in a profound and damaging way. The more that we as prison yoga teachers understand this massive influence on our prisons, the more effective we can be in this environment. So we are pleased that Ethel Gavin, Governor of Portlaoise Prison Campus will be talking with us about the current realities of this perennial prison challenge. We will hear how Ethel and her staff cope with drugs in her prisons, and will also get a bird’s eye view of the national picture. This will have relevance for prisons in Northern Ireland, though there are of course some differences. The day will include a chance to practise yoga and meditation together, sessions to share what is going well and what is challenging in your classes, and to find out more about this kind of work if you aren’t yet teaching in prison. Vegetarian lunch is provided.

Mount St Anne’s Conference Centre, Portalington, Co Laois, Ireland, Sunday 29th April, 2018- €25

Teaching Yoga in Prison – 2018 

This 5-day residential course, designed and run by the Prison Phoenix Trust (and accredited as a British Wheel of Yoga module) is open to all teachers, and equips you with the knowledge and confidence to teach in prison. The Carmelite Retreat Centre is on the quiet grounds of a priory, with views overlooking Oxford. We will explore in depth the issues, challenges and rewards of working behind bars. Content includes: security, professional boundaries, teachers as role models, young offenders, female prisoners, sex offenders, drugs and alcohol, the life and work of prison officers, applying for prison teaching. Daily meditation and yoga practice are integral to the course. For accreditation, teachers must later observe a prison class and then be assessed teaching in prison. Cost includes room, board and BWY admin fee. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll send you information and an application. 

18th – 22nd  June, 2018, Carmelite Retreat Centre, Boars Hill, Oxford - £495 


An Introduction to Teaching Yoga in Prison

Is it possible to give unconditional support, affirmation and encouragement through yoga and meditation in a highly regulated, stressful setting like prison? Come find out more on this day, when we will explore the challenges and rich rewards of sharing yoga and meditation with prisoners, ex-prisoners and staff. Open to teachers interested in finding out more, and to those already working in secure settings.

Sunday 14th October, 2018, Wytham Village Hall, Oxford - £35 


To book your place on any of these courses please get in touch with Sally, Brent or Victoria on 01865 512521 or

More information about these events can be found in the teachers’ newsletter. Please contact us to find out how to apply or if you have questions.  

You can sign up to hear about future training courses here. 

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Yoga and meditation in a prison cell
  Through yoga and meditation my peace of mind has grown beyond my wildest dreams.

I used to be so moody and angry and the things I used to dwell upon and hold onto don't cause me to resent anyone or anything any more.

It's only the gift of meditation and breath that has made me see that I couldn't progress until I let go completely of all the anger from within me.

A prisoner, HMP Pentonville 

Yoga is helping me greatly with my diet too. I want to look after my body now. I want to understand it more. I want to find the inner me. Life feels different now.

Ian, HMP Forest Bank