United States Chapters
The Michigan Chapter of the Prison Yoga Project, under the auspices of the Yoga by Design Foundation, is evolving. With plans for the first-ever Michigan-based PYP training to take place March 2019 in the Metro Detroit area, the chapter is not currently offering classes. Two programs are in existence through the Yoga by Design Foundation at Calumet & Lincoln Park Center (ACE Academy) in Highland Park, Michigan. As part of the Spectrum Juvenile Justice Services, the yoga, mindfulness & meditation program provides tools to young men to learn, heal, grow & develop the ability to re-integrate into their communities.
New York City
The New York City Area Chapter of Prison Yoga Project was established to provide services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people within New York City and surrounding areas including upstate New York and Long Island. To date, classes have been offered at federal prisons housing male and female inmates of all security levels (Sing Sing Correctional Complex, Metropolitan Detention Center and Metropolitan Correctional Center), Rikers Island (New York City’s main jail complex) and community organizations that provide services to formerly incarcerated people as they transition back into society (Providence House and Brooklyn Neighborhood Health Action Center in Brownsville).
Northern Ohio Juvenile
Since 2016, Northern Ohio Juvenile Chapter of Prison Yoga Project has served incarcerated youth ages 11-21 that are held in juvenile facilities at both the state and county levels throughout northern Ohio. Working within the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility’s (CHJCF) trauma-informed yoga program has been nationally recognized as targeting the specific mental health, complex trauma and behavioral problems related to juvenile offenders. In an article entitled “The Value of Alternative Therapies in Mental Health Treatment for Incarcerated Youths,” which appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Corrections Today the program’s benefits as well as youth testimonials were documented. Youth have reported experiencing more self-awareness, stress-reduction, and increased physical and mental vitality. Some also have reported an increased ability to manage anger, decreased impulsivity, and improved mood. CHJCF has found the program to be so successful that it is incorporated into the school day for academic credit. In addition, yoga is a core component of programming on the intake unit so all incoming youth upon arrival can have begun to acquire better emotion regulation skills during their first 30 days at the institution. There has been widespread support for yoga as an important component to assist young offenders toward achieving long-term positive behavioral change and rehabilitation.
The Sacramento Chapter of Prison Yoga Project was established in 2017 to provide services to incarcerated people at Folsom State Prison and the California Health Care Facility in Stockton. In addition, the chapter holds classes at the Wellness Recovery Centers, North and South. These classes support not only those in recovery but also the homeless population in Sacramento. The chapter also works to promote trauma-informed yoga and restorative justice principles and practices for all people throughout the Sacramento area.
The San Diego Chapter of Prison Yoga Project was established in 2012 to provide services to incarcerated people within San Diego County. The chapter’s classes at RJ Donovan State Prison allow participants to earn time off their sentences through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Rehabilitative Achievement Credit (RAC) program. The chapter also offers classes via the San Diego Sheriff’s Department at the Vista Detention Facility, San Diego Central Jail, Las Colinas Detention Center, and East Mesa Detention Center. Classes at the Vista Detention Center are part of an incentive-based housing program for incarcerated veterans. The chapter is a founding member of the RJ Donovan Community Support Network, a group of organizations providing rehabilitative programming at the prison. The chapter and its members also work to promote trauma-informed yoga and restorative justice principles and practices for all people throughout San Diego.
Prison Yoga Project The Netherlands has been running ongoing yoga interventions in adult male prison where we serve young adults since 2015. We started an intervention in a women’s prison in 2018. In the fall of 2018, we will start to work with youth. To guarantee the quality of the interventions we bring our teachers are supervised by a clinical psychologist mindfulness and yoga therapist. To validate the important service our dedicated teachers bring we pay our teachers. Our work gets funded by the Government of Amsterdam, individual prisons and different philanthropic institutions. For questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mexican Chapter of PYP was established at the beginning of 2017 with the Training given by James Fox in Mexico City. The local hub is Yoga Espacio Center, one of the most well-known centers in the Yoga community in Mexico. The Chapter operates in local and federal prisons in 4 different States (Mexico City, Morelos, Toluca, and Veracruz), both serving female and male adult population. In the outside, we work in the Re-entry Institute from the Mexico City Government, providing weekly classes to ex-inmates who voluntarily attend. We also teach yoga classes to young women victims of sexual exploitation who in a Federal shelter due to security reasons. In PYP Mexico we practice using trauma-informed yoga methodology and also include Peace Circles in jail in the context of Restorative Justice after some period of Yoga practice.
In late 2017, James visited London to offer a training for the first time in the UK. By the end of the weekend, and with 30 newly-trained teachers on-board, the PYP-UK Chapter was born! A core group gathered their efforts in 2018, and with some organizing, brainstorming, and strategizing we began a solid push from there. Program planning is underway in facilities from Brighton to London to Nottingham; prison staff classes are being offered at HMP Leicester. Additionally, we are joining forces with Ph.D. students at the University of Leicester Department of Criminology with the aim of setting up Prison Yoga research studies. With another PYP training set for London, we are well on our way and looking forward to further extending the benefits of our work.