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

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

For the past twenty years, Heart Mountain Prison Project (HMPP), a qualified 501(c)(3), has provided non-denominational meditation and Qi Gong in several prisons in New Mexico.

We also have a Native American Arts Program in the Santa Fe juvenile detention facility.

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

Violence Prevention Direct Service Programs
30 – 75 minute Dynamic Mindfulness classes
Mindful yoga sessions, combining  movement,  breathwork, and meditation are led by Niroga’s Yoga Corps teachers.  Yoga mats and props are used.   Classes can be more physical, satisfying P.E. requirements, and also include extension activities for stress resilience, self awareness, self-control, and building healthy relationships.
Day-long immersions
For students already familiar with dynamic mindfulness from our hourly classes, our day-long immersions include a variety of activities, including role-playing, art, games, yoga, breathwork, and mindfulness. This all day workshop teaches mindfulness practices to better manage emotions, to adopt healthy habits, and to build community and support among peers.

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

The Prison Mindfulness Initiative organizes, supports, and trains a state-wide network of volunteers to teach mindfulness-based meditation and yoga programs in prisons and jails throughout California. In the last year, PMI has trained hundreds of volunteers to teach mindfulness meditation and yoga to California’s 235,000+ male and female prisoners. PMI also trains people outside of California.

Jacques Verduin
Prison Mindfulness Institute

Prison Mindfulness Institute (aka Prison Dharma Network (PDN)), is an international, nonsectarian, contemplative support network for prisoners, prison volunteers, and corrections professionals. PDN’s mission is to provide prisoners, prison staff and prison volunteers, with the most effective, evidence-based tools for rehabilitation, self-transformation, and personal & professional development. In particular, we provide and promote the use of proven effective mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s). Our dual focus is on transforming individual lives as well as transforming the corrections system as a whole in order to mitigate its extremely destructive impact on families, communities and the overall social capital of our society.

Kate Crisp
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