“The mental benefits of yoga are unbelievable. The yoga path has made me a better person. I am a lot less reactionary- keeping my cool keeps me out of The Hole. The physical benefits have been increased flexibility and strength (it compliments my other workout routines), better digestive health (which is of the utmost importance because both the food and the water here are bad), and I sleep better.”

Justice Studies

Around the world, studies show that incarcerated women and men of all ages benefit from mindfulness, meditation and yoga practices. In prisons, correctional facilities, and re-entry spaces, programs have reported significant increases in self-awareness, mental and emotional well-being, and self-regulation, coupled with reductions in stress, restlessness and impulsivity.

As yoga and mindfulness programs continue to expand in carceral settings, research has concluded that the practices offer tremendous value for people who are incarcerated to build a sense of community filled with purpose and connection.

89 %

Of participants intend to use
techniques to reduce stress &
anxiety

80 %

Of participants at a county prison
felt more relaxed afterwards

72

Individuals have graduated from
our vocational peer-to-peer
trainings

The Latest Evidence-Based Research

  • Women who participated in a yoga program in two correctional facilities reported significantly decreased depression and improved self-awareness (Danielly and Silverthorne, 2017)

 

  • A yoga program in a correctional facility significantly improved the participant’s sense of emotional wellbeing and decreased anti-social behavior by creating a community (Kerekes et al. 2017)

Rooted in an Established Trauma-Sensitve Methodology

  • The prevalence of underlying trauma in carceral settings is much higher than among non-incarcerated people. It is estimated that 60% of women who are incarcerated and 20% of men who are incarcerated have PTSD. Researchers have found that trauma-exposure in correctional facilities is associated with a wide-range of behavioral health disorders and clinical symptoms (Wolff and Shi, 2012)
  • Trauma-sensitive yoga is a distinctive type of yoga that research has demonstrated can ease chronic sympathetic, or “fight, flight or freeze” nervous system de-regulation (van der Kolk et al, 1994). Due to the high stress of living in carceral settings, people who are incarcerated are often stuck in a state of chronic sympathetic arousal. Trauma-sensitive yoga provides an environment where safety and agency is fostered so that people who are incarcerated can strengthen trust in oneself and find ease.

 

 

We are committed to evaluating our Justice programs to better understand the benefits of our offerings to participants.

Learn More about our Program Evaluation at Philadelphia Department of Prisons