The Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team

For almost ten years,  Ananda Marga volunteer Steven Landau has run a weekly yoga program at Wake Correctional Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.   This voluntary two hour class includes Ananda Marga instruction on yoga postures, philosophy, kirtan, and meditation.  Once a month, the prisoners are even treated to a vegetarian meal.  Many participants have responded positively to the classes, reporting less aggression and higher levels of relaxation and physical well being.

In 2008, Landau reported findings in a study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy correlating regular attendance of prison yoga classes with a much lower rate of re-incarceration.  190 inmates of varying race and religious beliefs attended at least one class, and 54 of those returned several times, attending at least four classes.  Of the released men who frequented classes, only four (8%) were subsequently re-incarcerated, compared to the 28  men (25%) of  the non-frequenting group who found themselves back in prison within 2-3 years.

Joined a growing number of volunteers, the program has expanded to six jails and prisons for both men and women across the state of North Carolina, with plans to expand even further and reach inmates at every correctional facility in the state.

These findings suggest that yoga can be taught safely in correctional facilities, and that offenders can use these classes to better themselves physically and seek out a more peaceful and relaxed life. Those who utilize this program lessen their chances of falling victim to what is often a cycle of repeat offending and multiple visits to prison.

Steven Landau

Karma yoga practice serving women incarcerated by providing them with the tools to achieve enlightenment through kriya yoga.

Blue Flower Yoga is a kriya yoga practice. Kriya yoga is a combination of spiritual techniques that enable the practitioner to balance the energies of the body and the mind to attain enlightenment. In kriya yoga, we follow the ashtanga (eight-limbed) path set forth by the great sage, Patanjali.

Prisons Served: South Boise Women\’s Correctional Center

Nikki Weihe

Since 1997, Buddhist Pathways Prison Project (BP3) – formerly known as Folsom Pathways Sangha – volunteers have been dedicated to bringing Buddhist philosophy, religious services, mindful movement and meditation instruction into Northern California prisons. Buddhist philosophy emphasizes ethical behavior and a regular meditation practice which allows insight to arise. Insight for many inmates takes the form of understanding one’s own suffering and the suffering inflicted on others. Our program provides prisoners with the tools, resources and daily life skills necessary to create durable life changes both while incarcerated and when released. The California prison system, the second largest prison in the world, does not provide inmates Buddhist services or meditation instruction through a state-sponsored chaplaincy program. BP3 volunteers — along with other dedicated volunteers throughout our state — fill that void.


Serves 5 prisons in northern California: CSP-Folsom (Men’s and Women’s facilities), CSP-Sacramento, CSP-Mule Creek, CSP-Jamestown, and CSP-Deuel Vocational Institution.

Chaplain Diane Wilde

California Prison Mindfulness Network (CPMN) is a new initiative that organizes and supports mindfulness-based meditation and yoga groups in California’s prisons and jails. “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally (~John Kabat-Zinn).” Mindfulness is taught as a secular tool to help shift practitioners from having a blind reaction to cultivating a skillful response. Our goal is to make it available to people from religious or non-religious persuasions in support of each persons unique spiritual development.
The purpose of this network is to…

Support and make mindfulness-based teachings available to a multi-ethnic, undeserved population.
Provide advocacy and facilitate greater and easier access for volunteers to enter prisons and jails.
Offer training and support around instruction and facilitation of classes.
Facilitate access to prisons and jails by well-known meditation teachers.
Assist in providing easier access to the needed materials (zafus, malas, yoga mats, spiritual literature).
Support your efforts to organize daylong and multi-day retreats in prisons and jails.
Raise funds to support the network.
Organize a state-wide conference and prison mindfulness publication.

Part of Insight-Out.

Comienzos is an educational, therapeutic program serving men and women who are incarcerated at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. We teach the skills and cultivate the awareness that is needed for men and women to live in freedom.

Our classes include:

* Learning and Practice in Nonviolent Communication, as developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg;
* Meditative practices, including seated meditation, T’ai Chi Chih, and yoga; and,
* 12 Step Recovery

Robert Cliff Wilkie

Thursday Mornings from 10 to 11 am
Monday evenings 6 – 8 pm
Sundays evenings 6 – 8 pm

Thursdays offers Vipassana Meditation with Noah Levine and others, Kundalini Yoga and Meditation and Naam Yoga and Meditation.

Monday evenings is an array of guests from Agape International in LA.

Sunday evenings is an array of guests from Agape who offer meditation, music, interactive groups and visioning.

Freedom Legacy with Judy Osuna is a program with Reverand Michael Beckwith.

Prisons Served: FCI-Terminal Island federal prison

Cindy Cirlincione/ Judy Osuna

For the past ten years, Heart Mountain Prison Project (HMPP), a qualified 501(c)(3), has provided non-denominational meditation and yoga classes at six prisons and juvenile facilities throughout New Mexico.

Meditation and awareness classes at 5 adult prisons in NM. Classes at the Santa Fe juvenile detention facility include yoga, Native American drumming, and theater games. Weekly meditation classes and weekend workshops at adult prisons.

Prisons Served: currently at 2 facilities: medium security in Santa Rose, NM and the Santa Fe Youth Authority. Plans to expand to more facilities.

Doug Booth

During our program, we teach yoga and mindfulness meditation practices. Studies have shown both practices reduce stress, reactivity, increase resilience, help manage anger, teach self responsibility, create a positive outlook on life, and in the case of those formerly incarcerated, these practices have been shown to reduce recidivism.

Peter Oppermann

Niroga operates successful Transformative Life Skills (TLS) programs in Alameda County Juvenile Hall in Oakland, CA, with the key goals of reducing stress and increasing self-control.

Independent research confirms the positive effects of TLS on at-risk youth.

In 2003, Ann Moxey, a yoga instructor and psychologist specializing in addictions, founded the yoga program in the Atlacholoaya federal prison in Cuernavaca, Morelos, south of Mexico City. The program is called Parinaama Yoga.

Read more:

Prisons Served: Atlacholoaya Fed. Prison-Cuernavaca, Morelos

Ann Moxey
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