prison yogaLet’s look at some numbers.

<<< Warning: They may be disturbing. >>>

Public records show that during 2010, there were over:

  • 10,000 juveniles on probation
  • 7,700 youth on a diversion plan or contract for 1 day or more
  • 3,500 youth on some type of supervision
  • 744 youth committed
  • 6,380 admissions into juvenile detention centers in 2011

There are currently more than seven million men and women under correctional supervision, a staggering number. Prisoners leave custody without proper rehabilitation, minimal social and life skills, little understanding of the fundamental issues that got them in trouble, and little hope of integration back into society. As a result, 60% of released prisoners re-offend within 3 years.

How about individuals affected by trauma? 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people. People with PTSD have among the highest rates of healthcare service use. People with PTSD present with a range of symptoms, the cause of which may be overlooked or mis-diagnosed, as a result of past trauma.

Do I have your attention?

REAL LIFE. REAL YOGA.™ has partnered with Prison Yoga Project© to bring behavioral change for at-risk youth and adults who have been incarcerated or are at risk of incarceration, treating them with respect and empathy in order to create a more peaceful mindset and attitude. I help to shift unconscious behavioral patterns of reacting into conscious ways of responding by teaching individuals the skill of being present in each moment. Learning this fundamental behavioral shift can mean the difference between a person committing a crime, going back to drug use, getting into an altercation… or not.

Imagine participating in a yoga practice while coping with substance abuse, ADHD, PTSD, and the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression that come with prison life. Students may enter the class coming from the impact of trauma, where they are physically over-stimulated and mentally under-stimulated, and mental imbalances are very common as a result. Now imagine the value of a yoga practice to someone in that situation. Anxiety is replaced with calm, paranoia is replaced with mindfulness, and tension is replaced with relaxation in the body and mind. Hate and anger are replaced with prayer.

I teach yoga classes in prisons, jails, detention and rehabilitation facilities, as well as at other non-profit organizations looking to provide outreach to the at-risk population. If you are a non-profit seeking to add an innovative class like this to your programming, drop me a line!

*Image source Prison Yoga.