The mission of the Prison Yoga Project —reducing it to simplest terms — is to help people shift unconscious behavioral patterns of reacting into conscious ways of responding by teaching individuals the skill of clearly witnessing their moment-to-moment experience. Learning this fundamental behavioral shift can make the difference between a person committing a crime or not, going back to using or not, getting tangled in a confrontation, or not.

We do this by expanding the practice of Hatha Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation to prisons and rehabilitation facilities. We teach local teachers to work with local prisoners in local prisons. Teachers who take our Training usually bond together and form Chapters. Their work in the Chapter influences the emotional wellbeing or prisoners, and since 93% of all prisoners are eventually released, their work has an impact on neighborhood safety. It is through the Chapters that the real work of Prison Yoga Project is accomplished. Each Chapter has a Coordinator who functions as executive, organizer, fundraiser and counselor. The Coordinator does the demanding work of initiating and developing relationships with prison personnel, initiating new classes. He or she schedules and manages all chapter teaching activity in local facilities, prisons, jails, community rehab and reentry programs, arranging back-up teachers so no classes are ever missed.

The Coordinator works tirelessly with prisons to create opportunities for teachers – cheerful persistence is crucial to success. The Coordinator also works with the yoga community to arrange fundraising – money and resources – to help those volunteers for whom this works constitutes a financial hardship. A dedicated Coordinator is the key to a strong Chapter. A strong Chapter means success with the mission. No single function is more crucial. You can help support Coordinators, and teachers and help us develop systems and materials that will maintain the professionally consistent effort required by prisons.

What else we do:

We train Yoga instructors how to teach to trauma-impacted populations.

We conceive and produce instructional materials, for teachers, prisoners and the public, in video, audio and print.

We teach classes in prisons, jails and other detention and rehabilitation facilities.

We are developing research to measure the effectiveness of our work, to replicate studies already done showing reduction of rates of re-offense.

We are developing programs to support released prisoners – returning citizens – in their lives outside.

We advise prisons, governmental agencies, private entities and/or individuals about establishing Yoga programs as part of rehabilitation programs.

We help prisons and jails start programs by providing advice, training materials, Yoga mats and class curriculum

We advocate with public officials and prison administrators on behalf of victim-offender education, restorative justice and initiation of rehab programs.

We train new leaders.

We conduct fundraising campaigns to generate the resources necessary to grow the mission.

We spread the word, bringing our innovative programs to every corner of this country and upon request, to countries abroad.

To help support the Prison Yoga Project, donate here.