I've taught yoga in San Quentin and other prisons for 13 years.
“Prison Yoga Project grew out of my experience with hundreds of prisoners – teaching yoga and mindfulness and as a staff facilitator of victim/offender education, violence prevention and emotional literacy. I've witnessed yoga's effectiveness firsthand, helping prisoners release unresolved trauma, making it possible for them to confront chronic behavioral issues - violence, addiction, depression, and PTSD.
Prisoners who've suffered lifelong trauma are met with empathy and respect.
Few realize that most prisoners also suffer extreme trauma as children or young adults...abandonment, parental death, acute hunger, aggravated bullying, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, witnessing violent crime, including murder - acts no child should ever be made to suffer. Carrying unresolved trauma into their lives impacts everything they do. Their behavior often lands them in prison, where they experience further trauma.
It started slowly...
I created a Training that enables anyone with a committed yoga practice to teach yoga and mindfulness to trauma-impacted people, especially people in prison. It’s the only certified program of its kind. More than a thousand teachers have taken PYP Training and are now conducting classes in more than a hundred prisons, countless jails, reentry and rehab facilities, youth detention centers, womens' prisons and work camps. We've learned that to change the behavior of people who've been brutalized all their lives, they have to be met with empathy and respect. The system doesn’t supply it. So we do.
Why should you care?
Because 93% of all prisoners are eventually released. Emotionally healthy prisoners make safer neighborhoods, calmer prisons with lower healthcare costs. Balancing compassion and accountability, we help prisoners turn their behavior around, bringing healing into prisons where it's sorely needed. Yes, it must be working. How do we know? We’re swamped with requests for more classes which means more local Trainings, more mats, more books, more equipment, more staff. The prison grapevine is buzzing and word is, yoga equals calmer, healthier prisoners, less chaos, lower costs. As buzz races through this country’s 4,575 prisons, initial resistance has turned into heated demand, and now, we are very sorely tested. We need your help. Donate now.” ~ James Fox, founder and director