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Prison Yoga Project aims to help instructors teach inmates yoga meditation practices

Jan 4, 2015 | by Lynn Powell

“To get to have this yoga experience once a week, where they have lavender oil, eye pillows, deep stretching, letting go of so much. It helps them through the rest of the week to have hope,” she said. Psychotherapist Shanti Krigel believes yoga is a way for inmates to step back and assess consequences before making a decision.“The practice of breathe, practice of grounding, moving with awareness in our body. It’s really a tool to build the muscle of coming into the now.”

TULSA – Behind the concrete walls of David L. Moss Correctional Facility in Tulsa, all inmates have is time.

Yoga instructor Sarah Thomas teaches class Monday nights at the jail, hoping to ease the wait.

“To get to have this yoga experience once a week, where they have lavender oil, eye pillows, deep stretching, letting go of so much. It helps them through the rest of the week to have hope,” she said.

Psychotherapist Shanti Krigel believes yoga is a way for inmates to step back and assess consequences before making a decision.

“The practice of breathe, practice of grounding, moving with awareness in our body. It's really a tool to build the muscle of coming into the now.”

Thomas says she has been trying to get more teachers trained so she wrote to The Prison Yoga Project pleading them to visit Tulsa.

“I would rather see my money go to getting to the root of the problem and healing the addiction and trauma verses spending money on these facilities.”

The Prison Yoga Project was founded 12-years ago at the San Quentin prison in California. Founder and director James Fox shows yoga instructors how to teach classes to “people who have been impacted by trauma.”

Because of Thomas’ email, Fox will be holding a special training weekend in Tulsa. Dates are below. 

February 27

6:45 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. 

February 28

2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

March 1

10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

3 p.m.  – 5:30 p.m.

Thomas was inspired to bring the Prison Yoga Project to Tulsa because she says the classes have made an impact on the inmates; one woman in particular brought her mother and daughter, also inmates, to join her in class.

“She went back to these other family members at an off time and got them to come attend the class. Just to see that was very powerful. Maybe they're on the road to not being back there again.”

The training sessions will have in-depth classes teaching instructors strategies for "establishing yoga programs in detention centers and rehabilitation facilities."

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