• Prison Project Program

Advanced Yoga Teacher Training

The Prison Project

The Sivananda Prison Outreach Program was initiated in 1996 when an inmate read Swami Vishnudevananda’s Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga and expressed his appreciation in the magazine Prison Life. Shortly after, hundreds of prisoners started writing to the Sivananda organizations expressing their interest and requesting books on yoga.

For the past 20 years, the Yoga Ranch has been sending yoga books to prisoners, exchanging correspondence, and teaching yoga classes and meditation in a New York medium security prison.

Transforming Lives

With 2.3 millions prisoners, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Prison overcrowding, noise, and limited space can deeply amplify experiences of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, grief, fear, and rage for inmates already often dealing with anger or violent impulses.

A regular yoga practice is a powerful tool for the positive transformation of inmates to learn how to cultivate peace of mind and positive thinking, helping them gain control over their emotions, enhance sensitivity toward themselves, empathy towards others, and a life of compassion rather than violence.

Hear From the Inmates

“This is a letter of gratitude and thanks […] I use this book always […] I now do yoga 4 times a week like religion […] I have many years to go which to diligently continue in this journey, that you all helped me with“. D.C., Tehachapi State Prison, CA

“Thank you very much for your generous gift of the yoga book. It has arrived and it is wonderful. More complete that I imagined. I’m exceedingly grateful”.
– R.I, Maury, NC

INSIDE A FEDERAL PRISON

Teacher Training Course

 

The Yoga Ranch has extended its Prison Outreach Program to launch a Yoga Teachers Training Course (TTC) free of charge in a correctional facility. The initiative – the first one of its kind – took place from April-October, 2015 in FCI Otisville, a medium-security United States federal prison for male inmates in New York State.

The annual TTC program is offered to 20 inmates at a time and is modeled on the traditional Sivananda TTC program, the oldest yoga training in the West (since 1969) with one difference. Due to prison’s constraints, the training is held in several sessions, instead of a whole month straight. During these sessions the teaching team teaches inside the prison. The curriculum includes Hatha yoga, Yoga & Vedanta philosophy, anatomy & physiology, study of the scripture ‘Bhaghavad Gita’, meditation theory & practice, Kirtan & Sanskrit chanting.

Between the teaching sessions, the students attend a weekly class and practice and study on their own. They are required to practice daily Asanas, Pranayama and meditation. They also have reading assignments on yoga, writing assignments and keep a spiritual diary. Ultimately, this system – teaching sessions with studying intervals – leads to a longer and more diffused training, which offers the possibility of even better results and long-lasting change.

Beyond helping 20 inmates to build a much stronger personal practice leading to an improvement in their everyday life, training yoga teachers within the prison’s walls also enables inmates to teach each other on a more frequent basis, thus bringing yoga to a larger inmate population and in turn, benefiting the entire prison.
We wish this pilot initiative inspires and will be replicated in other prisons, generating a greater impact and possibilities for the entire US prison population.

Help Us Make A Difference

A little goes a long way

Donation checks can be mailed to:

SIVANANDA YOGA RANCH
P.O BOX 195
WOODBOURNE, NEW YORK 12788


Or make a tax-deductible donation by credit card.

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