I enrolled on the 1 week course run by the Prison Phoenix Trust (PPT) in 2012 and completed what is a British Wheel of Yoga module in December 2012. This involved a session observing and taking a yoga class in a Prison. These were undertaken at Grendon Prison with the kind assistance of Caroline O’Hagon.
It was an interesting experience and I must admit to being a little nervous at one point when lying down on the floor with the prisoners – imagine what it is like for them a great test for their trust in the others! But chatting to them afterwards they all seemed pretty regular guys, obviously yoga compliments the gym work they do by teaching the body to release muscles. From the PPT newsletters it is apparent that it has affected their mental balance in a positive way too, as it has for me.
September 2014, 8 months after the workshop at the prison and 20months after first contacting them a class finally started – this ran for 18months before funding ran out. I have done four weeks at HMP Rye Hill covering for another teacher with one class for inmates and one for staff – both brought different challenges. One of the staff made my day when escoting me off site when she told me after the first session, when she got home she immediately found a local yoga class and signed up.
This has certainly tested my perseverance (Niyama), at times it seemed to be going nowhere!
Yoga for prisoners can show many benefits, the most important is that it can help sort their head out, then they can make real progress with their lives. One life changed for the better has got to be a good effort.