10 week Program for prisoners


This 10 week program for prisoners is aimed at :-

  • Supporting transformation and rehabilitation for prisoners through a mindfulness-based and trauma informed approach; i.e. providing a service to a group of people who will ultimately return to the community
  • Helping develop a prisoner’s skills in relaxation, mindfulness and self-soothing strategies using yoga 
  • Bringing participants awareness to their bodies through mindfulness-based and trauma informed yoga practice
  • Assisting participants with rebooting their nervous system through body movement and breath and increasing their ability to be aware of and control their emotions
  • Creating a calmer prison population by providing them with the skills and techniques to assist in meeting the need for stress management, impulse control, anger management, and addiction recovery
  • Providing an additional method of promoting a rehabilitation model that supports reintegration, facilitation, personal development and a reduction in recidivism rates

PYP training in Brixton UK (Sep 2018) - Sonia Brown-Diaz sitting 3rd from right bottom row
PYP training in Brixton UK (Sep 2018) - Sonia Brown-Diaz sitting 3rd from right bottom row

Trauma-informed yoga


What is a trauma-informed approach to instructing a yoga class?

A trauma informed approached to guiding a yoga class assumes that all of your students are survivors of trauma, as we have no way of identifying students who are trauma survivors

Guidelines for trauma-informed yoga class includes but is not limited to :

  • Creation of a safe space for all students by having equanimity amongst all students and the teacher
  • Use of language in class that cultivates present moment awareness
  • Verbal cues for adjustments to the pose (not physical)
  • Giving freedom, using simple instructions, and inviting language
  • In trauma, choice has been revoked, so it is fundamentally important to restore it whenever possible. Choice is empowering. Letting the student decide how and what their experience will be.
  • Enabling participants to bring awareness to situations and sensations where they feel they may be in a ‘reactive’ mode (“fight-or-flight” response) and providing them with the techniques such as body and breath awareness to activate their parasympathetic nervous system instead and find less reactive and calmer approaches to handling conflict and confrontation – whether that is inside the prison yard or more importantly in the community
  • Avoidance of poses which may cause triggers for participants (e.g. submissive poses)
  • Avoidance of poses which require strenuous inversions or backbends – so as to not cause injury or further aggravate existing physical conditions
  • Avoidance of physical adjustments to students 


  • Encouragement of self-discipline, compassion, development of empathy for oneself and others, development of self-esteem and overall physical fitness 
  • Reduction to the cost on the system 
  • A decrease in recidivism = less people in incarceration and less financial burden on tax payers and the government
  • Healthier inmates = a reduction in medical/health costs per individual
  • Decrease in recidivism / re-offending – in the USA only 8% of individuals who took 4 or more yoga classes returned to prison, compared with a national average of 60% recidivism (as per studies undertaken by Yoga Behind Bars)
  • Calmer temperament amongst prisoners, resulting in fewer conflicts with staff and other inmates
  • Resulting in better working conditions for correctional officers
  • Leading to the reduction of staff turn-over due to long-terms stress 

More Benefits

  • Reduction in human suffering and an opportunity for prisoners to address their own unresolved trauma which in many cases has lead to their criminal behaviour
  • The possibility for prisons to experience personal transformation and a sense of hope for their future
  • Community engagement opportunities with yogic values of non-judgement and non-aggression which is promoted through the program
  • Reduction in psychological distress and overall improved health
  • Resulting in a reduction in healthcare costs for the government
  • Enabling better working conditions for correctional officers by allowing Yoga on the Inside to assist in fostering a more peaceful incarceration environment so that they can do their work with greater ease .