James Fox, MA began teaching yoga and meditation to prisoners at San Quentin Prison in 2002. His years of experience as a facilitator of victim/offender education, violence prevention, and emotional literacy classes for prisoners informed his work with prisoners and the eventual founding of Prison Yoga Project. Since then he’s led practices and inspired the establishment of yoga programs in prisons and jails across the U.S. and internationally. James has trained thousands of teachers who have replicated PYP’s methodology in correctional facilities in 28 states, India, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and The Netherlands.
Bill Brown (C-IAYT) is the Executive Director for Prison Yoga Project. He has brought yoga and mindfulness to San Diego County prisons and jails since 2013 at Federal, State, and County facilities. He is a contributing editor to the Yoga Service Council/Omega Institute’s recently published book Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System.
National Program Manager
Nicole (RYT-200) has her Master’s in Public Service from the University of Arkansas’ Clinton School of Public Service where she originally began working with Prison Yoga Project on her capstone project to provide a set of tools for program measurement and evaluation. Previously, Nicole worked as a high school educator with an at-risk population, where she studied and implemented trauma-informed responses to misbehavior to help her students achieve their goals. She has also worked in Cape Town, supporting yoga instructors working with children with autism, and in Vietnam where she taught teachers how to use trauma-informed techniques in their classes for improved classroom management. Nicole has a passion for social justice, prison reform, and yoga; all rooted in her desire for restorative justice as an alternative to punitive punishment and its negative effects that she witnessed while working in the classroom.
Trainer and Coordinator, PYP International Programs
Josefin Wikström (TCTSY-F, Yoga Therapy for The Mind, E-RYT 500, YACEP, RCYS) has been bringing yoga and dance into the Swedish prisons since 2008. She has been working as a full-time teacher focusing on yoga for trauma-exposed populations since 2003. In 2015, she began working with Prison Yoga Project to coordinate European training and has been teaching Prison Yoga Project training in Mumbai, India, and Mexico.
Tierney St. John
Training and Professional Development Manager
Tierney St. John E-RYT200, YACEP, is a Prison Yoga Project Trainer, Mentor, and Senior Teacher. She has extensive training in a wide variety of yoga styles and lineages and has lead numerous 200hr Yoga Alliance accredited Teacher Training certifications. She is a life-long yoga student and a full-time yoga teacher. Tierney is passionate about making yoga accessible to all people. She has experienced first hand the power of yoga to increase self-awareness, cultivate community, deepen empathy, and empower people through a sense of overall wellbeing. She currently teaches two weekly trauma-informed classes at San Diego Central Jail.
Book Distribution Program Coordinator, Chapter Director (Sacramento)
Kaysie Markwardt, RYT200, is Admin. Support for PYP and the Sacramento Chapter Director. She spent 15 years in post-secondary education before leaving to focus on a path of Service. Her love of yoga began with her first yoga class in 2001 and from there, her experience has grown from a self-sustaining practice to a full-blown dedication to helping others find a deeper sense of mind-body awareness both on and off the mat.
As a self-care advocate, she works with students to increase presence and self-awareness of the body and the breath. She has been teaching at Folsom State Prison since June 2017. Inspired by various high-level teachers, Ganga White, BKS Iyengar, Judith Hanson Lasater, Richard Rosen, and James Fox, Kaysie earned her 200 RYT in 2015 and is a Level 1 Rest & Renew certified instructor.
Trainer, Chapter Director (San Diego)
Kate Beckel, E-RYT200, YACEP, RCYT, M.Ed is a Prison Yoga Project Trainer and the San Diego Chapter Director. She is also a trainer for Yoga Ed., specializing in working with children and youth. She has trained in a wide variety of yoga practices. She is in the Advanced year of her Somatic Experiencing (SE) Studies.
SE is a mind-body therapy that works with the nervous system to relieve and or resolve trauma. Since 2015 she has taught trauma-informed yoga at Vista Detention Facility, Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility, Second Chance, Kitchens for Good, Toussaint Academy, and other Title 1 schools.
Trainer, Senior Teacher (San Francisco)
Chanda Williams, MA, RYT, is a yoga teacher with a background in body mechanics, wellness coaching, and advanced training in trauma-informed yoga practices. Chanda has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in integrative health studies. A yoga teacher since 2004, Chanda offers group Hatha and vinyasa yoga classes as well as individual yoga therapy sessions for people with injuries or chronic health conditions. With a deep devotion to service, she taught yoga in the San Francisco County Jail for two years prior to joining the Prison Yoga Project, where she has taught regularly since 2014 at San Quentin State Prison. Committed to teaching yoga for health and social transformation, she is pursuing a doctoral degree in somatic depth psychology researching evidence-based practices to heal trauma through mindful movement, breathing techniques, and meditation.