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

Autumn Meditation Retreat for Prison Yoga Teachers and Letter Writers

This retreat, held mostly in silence, offers a chance to develop your meditation practice so you feel more confident in offering it as part of your teaching. Talks on the practice as well as one-to-one meetings with the facilitators provide the support you need for the extended periods of practice over the weekend. Meditation retreats are an excellent way to establish a regular practice or to revive or strengthen it, so we welcome teachers who have attended in previous years, as well as those who have not yet been. First priority is given to teachers working in prisons, IRCs, secure hospitals or bail hostels, and to volunteer letter writers. We hope you can join us.

Carmelite Retreat Centre, Boars Hill, Oxford, 27th - 29th October - £140


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. Most autistic adults are undiagnosed, but there is good evidence that the incidence of autism among prisoners is significantly above that in the general population (currently officially estimated at 1.1%). The session facilitated by Caroline Hearst will help you better understand your autistic students, and enable you to use your skills to work more effectively with them. Caroline is an autistic trainer who offers interactive autism education from an informed insider perspective. She runs Autism Matters and is a director of AutAngel. She won a 2017 National Autistic Society Professional Award for her work. 

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 prison teaching. Richard, who served a prison sentence, will share a semi-biographical spoken word performance and join discussion about life in and after prison. 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

We are still developing a theme and content for this training day. Please contact us with any ideas you would like to explore. Details will be confirmed in the Winter issue of this newsletter.

Mount St Anne’s Conference Centre, Portalington, Co Laois, Ireland. Date to be confirmed - €10

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 


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