2020 Christmas Cards On Sale

This year’s cards come in packs of 10, drawn by a friend at HMP Grendon. They show a snowman yogi, sitting in cobbler pose. The inside is blank for your message. The cards measure 144 x 103 mm.

Each pack, including postage, is £5.

Please email all@theppt.org.uk to place an order.

Autumn Meditation Day for Prison Yoga Teachers and Letter Writers

Saturday 17th October, 10 am – 4.00 pm, online, £10

Our annual retreat was scheduled for 16th – 18th October as a physical gathering, but the retreat venue has closed for 2020, and there are challenges in booking another, and uncertainty about whether we’d be able to gather in person. Instead we are holding this event online.

This day is for Prison Phoenix Trust letter writers, and yoga and meditation teachers who’ve worked in prison and those especially keen to do so. It will be held mostly in silence and offers a chance to deepen your own meditation practice so you feel more confident in offering it as part of your teaching. A talk on the practice, a chance to meet one-on-one with the facilitators and an asana practice before lunch will provide the support you need. Your home needn’t be totally silent like a retreat centre on the day. We’d rather you welcome the realities of what’s happening domestically and weave them into the practice, rather than see them as obstacles.

We’ll send instructions on the practice once you are accepted, and ask that you to sit for 20 minutes in meditation each day beforehand.

Please email Laura to find out more.

Free Yoga and Meditation Handouts for Prisoners

We have a range of yoga and meditation handouts available to help prisoners cope with the increased hours they are having to spend in their cells. These include how to set up a meditation practice, yoga routines to help with worry and insomnia, and soothing breathing practices.

Please feel free to print these out and distribute them to those you’re in contact with in any secure setting. If you have any feedback or requests for other types of content from us, please let us know. We have added to these handouts in March and September 2020.

Yoga Handouts for Prisoners

Please phone us for the password on 01865 512 521.

Phone the same number to discuss bulk ordering yoga and meditation books and CDs for your institution.

Events Update

In light of national and global events we have made these changes to our events –

Race and Prison – one-day training for prison yoga teachers – Sunday 29.3.20

This will no longer be a physical meeting, but will be an on-line gathering on the same day.

Coretta Philipps, the main speaker, and former prisoner Mike will offer their presentations by remote video (Coretta: Race in Prison; Mike: how one man survived prison with help from his yoga teacher and is now thriving). There will be discussion in small groups, time for questions and answers, and a chance to return to the heart of our work as we practise together too.

We in the office are disappointed not to be seeing you in person. And we know how valuable it is for you to meet up with each other. But we think this is a good compromise. It’s important that all of us, in all walks of life, stay in touch during these challenging times, and keep nourished and learning and sharing our support with each other. We hope you can join us.

The timing is likely to be 10.00 – 12.30. Exact details will be confirmed once we have finalised things.  We’ll be in touch again with joining instructions, by the end of the day on 23rd March at the latest.

Teaching Yoga in Prison – five-day residential training course (22nd – 26th June 2020)

This has been postponed until June 21st – 25th, 2021. All teachers accepted on the course will have any fees paid so far refunded, and are automatically accepted for the course next year, should they wish to attend. We will be in touch with participants and process refunds soon.

Stay in Touch! 

Our office will stay open (with most staff working from home for the immediate future) and we will keep sending our book packs and writing letters to prisoners, who may need friendship and practices to develop their inner resources, now more than ever. Please do give us a ring or drop us an email if you have any questions.

2019 Christmas Cards On Sale

This year’s cards come in packs of 5 each of 2 designs, both drawn by a friend at HMP Grendon.

One card is a snowman yogi, the other is a winter woodland scene. The inside is blank for your message. The cards measure 144 x 103 mm.

Each pack, including postage, is £5.

Please email all@theppt.org.uk to place an order.

snowman doing yoga christmas card

Yoga Practice Reduces the Psychological Distress Levels of Prison Inmates

A new Swedish study has shown that a 10-week yoga course can lead to a reduction of levels of psychological distress in prisoners, which can in turn make them less likely to reoffend. The study also links regular yoga practice to reduction in obsessive-compulsive and paranoid thinking, as well as a reduction in “somatisation” (mental distress leading to physical symptoms).

You can read the full study here and find more studies on yoga and meditation in prison on our evidence page.

Yoga Mats Now Allowed in Cells

Often prisoners want a mat of their own so they can practise in their cells. For many years, people imprisoned in England & Wales couldn’t keep yoga mats in their cells (though all prisons don’t always follow all regulations so some prisoners did have mats). But it is now permissible for prisoners to keep yoga mats in their cells. A prisoner at HMP Frankland made a complaint to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman about needing a mat in his cell for health and safety reasons. The Ombudsman contacted The Prison Phoenix Trust, who presented a range of arguments that the Ombudsman could use in lobbying for this change. As a result Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 30/2013 was updated.
On page 2 of the 70 page document you will find: “Yoga mats have been added to the standardised facilities list…”, meaning the list of things that prisoners are allowed to have. They can usually order things from the facilities list from approved suppliers, like Argos. So if your prisoner students ask if they can have yoga mats, you can let them know the prison service instruction number. If you search and find PSI 30/2013 on-line, the section about the yoga mats is on the second page.

Summer Newsletter Now Out

Our summer newsletter is now available to read online here. In this issue we  feature two practical yoga and breathing routines as well as many letters from prisoners, telling of how yoga and meditation have been helping them behind bars. We have an article on the importance of taking the time to lament when we are met with national tragedy – an article sadly very relevant at the moment.

View the newsletter online here!

If you’d like to subscribe to our online newsletter, please fill in this form. If you prefer a paper copy, then drop us a line and we’ll add you to the mailing list.

On Sadness and Anger

“I still find it hard to get in touch with my feelings. My gut tells me sadness is something I have a lot of. Today after my morning sitting I stopped and thought about how I feel about myself. My awareness shot to the memory of me as a little boy, and I felt a cocktail of sadness, feeling sorry, and maybe compassion for this little boy, who I realise is still within me. Sometimes I feel a vast space down inside my body that is so still. Anger can come back like a tidal wave and if I’m quick I observe it and the flames die very quickly and I feel like I’ve grown or maybe changed. This is so empowering.”

– Frank, HMP The Mount

Officer Raises Marathon Money for Prison Yoga

Chris Herbert, who ran an ultra-marathon for us last year, took on the London Marathon this time around, his sixth time in the race. Chris started running over thirty years ago, while in the forces. He has been going to the staff yoga class at Spring Hill Prison for the past three years, and says yoga has been a huge help with his running training.

If you want to sponsor Chris, have a look at his fundraising page here – or you can send a donation direct to us.

We are so grateful to Chris for helping us, just as we are to all the prison officers who support our classes in prison. Whether it’s running a marathon for us or sorting out attendance lists and rooms for our classes, we couldn’t offer yoga and meditation to people inside without the work and kindness of all prison staff.