This past March we introduced you all to members of our third 200-hour Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) at State Correctional Institute. We’re so excited to share that on Saturday June 29th the cohort at SCI - Phoenix officially completed their training and became Certified Yoga Instructors.

Our Director of Justice and Reentry Services, Brianne Murphy, and our Director of Training, Colleen DeVirgiliis, reflected on the moving and inspiring closing celebration. Brianne and Colleen facilitated the training and along with several co-facilitators, who were previous YTT graduates.

A self-portrait by one of our YTT graduates at SCI - Phoenix.

A self-portrait by one of our YTT graduates at SCI - Phoenix.

From Bri -

Our YTT ‘19 Cohort has officially completed 200 hours. We’ve welcomed 21 new Trauma Sensitive yoga instructors to our team at SCI- Phoenix and are moved by their enthusiasm for this practice and their communities. 

We’d like begin acknowledging the loved ones of our graduates and co-facilitators. Without your love and support such commitment and dedication to this training would not have been possible. We all carry our support systems and loved ones with us at all times, and it was clear the energy and care that fueled our graduates throughout these past five months and beyond. We feel so honored to have been able to get to know them over this training and would like to extend an offer of our unending support to each of you, however it is that we can show up for you. 

* * *

In recounting the day, there are some things that are easy to find the words for. 

We set up in a circle. 

The room was cold.

Count cleared 45 minutes late. 

Control interrupted to announce half-time yard… cease all movement… law library closed…. Disturbances at best, though in reality daily reminders of the lengths we go to attempt to normalize the blatantly inhumane.

Then there are also the things that can never be described. The things that bring you to your knees in humility. That create a lump in your throat so real and profound that all of your words move through water before reaching your mouth. There are the things that fill your heart with such joy and sadness that you are broken open, wholly and completely... for as long as you can bear it. 

Our closing ceremony together was Poetry. 

It was Love. 

It was “Justice in Action.”

I could sit and recount the order of events for the day, the things that moved me, the pride we feel for our new graduates, and the blessing that it is to know them…. However these things were created in sacred circle to live on within each of us... Gifts in our lives to give us the strength to continue to uncover liberation in all corners of our worlds. 

Being a part of community within spaces designed to disrupt and discourage connection is a powerful thing. It reinforces that we are all in fact stronger together, capable of deep humanity & compassion, and only limited by other’s imaginations. It reminds us that we can dream bigger, imagine better, and co-create a world that is more just and merciful for all of us in it. It moves us to ask the hard questions, to challenge the systems that exist in order to speak into reality a world that is fundamentally different- one that leans into our humanity as our greatest strength. 

Community, like this, begs us to look deeply within, to ask ourselves to reveal our own contradictions. What harmful untruths have we accepted or internalized about our world and the people in it? What systems have we named “status quo” that destroy whole communities, families, individuals? In what ways do we contribute to their persistence? In what ways do we contribute to their inevitable fall? 

We all have two choices in this world. 

Fear or Love. 

There is nothing in this world that any of us can achieve alone. Nothing that would ever be enough. And yet Hope persists because together we are capable of All Things. The impossible becomes possible, and the whole world changes. Everyday, as we sit in sacred circle, the whole world changes. 

In honor of our graduates, their loved ones, our community of supporters, all of our teachers that have come before us, the movements, the communities, the people who have given life to and life for liberation…. I commit to hold on to these seeds of hope and freedom, and to move through the rest of my days asking, “What would Love do next?” 


Thank you all for supporting our Class of 2019 YTT Graduates at State Correctional Institute! Learn more about some of the 21 men who graduated in our previous blog posts.


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