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.

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.

Listening In – the Prison Phoenix Trust Annual Lecture 26th May, 2020

We have regrettably had to cancel  this event but will reschedule for the autumn or in 2021. 

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.

Listening In: the Prison Phoenix Trust Annual Lecture 2020

This event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled in the autumn or 2021.

Come along and hear four former prisoners and a prison yoga teacher live in conversation with Penny Boreham, radio producer, broadcaster and Prison Phoenix Trust Trustee. Each member of the panel has generously shared their story in the new series of Freedom Inside, our programme on National Prison Radio.

The programmes in this 12-part series include guided yoga and meditation sessions, designed for the confines of a prison cell. The programme introductions are dialogues between former prisoners and people currently serving time. They speak of how meditation and yoga can hold them steady, transform hopelessness into hope and gratitude, and help them find strength and appreciation for everything life presents.

On the evening, we’ll share a selection of clips from the programmes. The panel will offer their perspectives on these, as well as responding to input from the audience. The event will round off with tea, cake and a chance to chat.

Sam Settle, Prison Phoenix Trust Director said:

“When we first heard these recordings in the office, we were awestruck at their emotional power. We’re delighted that people in prison are able to hear them now, and we’re looking forward to sharing some of this with our friends and supporters. We’d love it if you can join us for what promises to be a moving, insightful and memorable evening.”

Please contact us to request a concession.

An Introduction to Teaching Yoga in Prison

Sunday 15th November, 2020, Wytham Village Hall, Oxford – £35

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.

To find our more please email us or get in touch with Sally, Selina or Victoria on 01865 512521

Autumn Meditation Retreat for Prison Yoga Teachers and Letter Writers

Carmelite Retreat Centre, Boars Hill, Oxford, 16th – 18th October, 2020 – cost tbc

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.

To find our more please email us or get in touch with Sally, Selina or Victoria on 01865 512521

Race and Prison – Training Day

This will no longer be a physical meeting, but will be an on-line gathering on the same day. Exact details will be confirmed to people with booked places once we have finalised things.

Summertown Church Hall, Oxford, 9:30 – 4:30 Sunday 29th March, 2020 – £10

This day is for yoga and meditation teachers and cover teachers already working in prisons, secure hospitals, IRCs and bail hostels, or those about to begin. What is it about our society and criminal justice systems that means a disproportionate number of people of colour wind up in prison? What is life inside like for them? What kinds of issues around ethnicity do we need to be aware of, so we are most effective in our teaching?

Part of this day aims to explore those questions and deepen our understanding of race and prison, with the help of Dr Coretta Phillips, Associate Professor of Social Policy at LSE. Her research interests are in the field of race, ethnicity, crime, criminal justice and social policy. She is involved in a study with minority ethnic young people, including those involved in crime but not detected by the police, those deeply entrenched in the criminal justice system, and those uninvolved in crime. She is particularly interested in why some ethnic groups are easily caught up in the criminal justice system while others are not. Coretta’s previous research in the UK has included work on ethnicity and social relations in men’s prisons and institutional racism. Her book, The Multicultural Prison was shortlisted for the Radio 4 Thinking Allowed / British Sociological Association Award for Ethnography in 2014.

After Coretta’s presentation and discussion with us in the morning, we’ll have time to share the challenges of our classes and also what is working well. We’ll practice asana and seated meditation together and enjoy a bring-and-share lunch. There will be ample time to talk with others engaged in this unique work. The cost is being kept low to minimise expenses for teachers travelling from a distance.

To find our more please email us or get in touch with Sally, Selina or Victoria on 01865 512521

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 to place an order.

snowman doing yoga christmas card

Teaching Yoga In Prison – 5 Day Residential Course

This event 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.

22nd – 26th June, 2020, Carmelite Retreat Centre, Boars Hill, Oxford – £495

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 be assessed teaching in prison. Cost includes room, board and BWY admin fee.

Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll put you on our list to receive an application form when the process starts in September. The closing date for applications is 21st February 2020.

To find our more please email us or get in touch with Sally, Selina or Victoria on 01865 512521

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.