Why yoga for inmates?

Prisons are stressful places, where angry, violent and distressed inmates live in overcrowded conditions. Yoga and meditation can help, since regular practice heals physical and mental tension, lessens anger and leads to a greater appreciation of life, wherever it is lived.

The Prison Phoenix Trust encourages inmates to practise yoga and meditation in their cells. We support them with weekly classes, free books, CDs, newsletters and the offer of regular correspondence.

Benefits of regular yoga classes in prisons:

  • Inmates become less angry and act more appropriately, leading to a less aggressive environment
  • When people feel better in themselves, and free from pain, they sleep more soundly and become calmer
  • Inmates develop a habit of self-discipline and concentration, often for the first time. This gives them confidence and motivation to take up education.
  • Research shows that yoga and meditation help people reduce medication and tobacco intake
  • When inmates discover in themselves something they can like, they feel less isolated, and encouraged to socialise, which prepares them well for resettlement
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Yoga and meditation in a prison cell
I have always been impressed with the way the PPT are very sensitive to the pressures of the prison environment, and have worked extremely hard to ensure that they work with staff and systems to achieve their ends, successfully avoiding conflict.  The work that the PPT does plays an important part in providing opportunities for prisoners to handle stress and come to terms with their imprisonment.

Luke Serjeant, Regional Manager, Custodial Services, West Midlands.

As Head of Residence at Glen Parva, I have been able to introduce yoga to our Violence Reduction programme. Naturally, we approached the Prison Phoenix Trust, and we now have a regular yoga class every Monday. This is paying huge dividends, and is contributing to an overall reduction in levels of violence at Glen Parva. Some very challenging young men have been able to use techniques learnt in yoga to control some aspects of their impulsive and violent behaviour.

Simon Cass, HMYOI/RC Glen Parva