On February 2nd, 2016, Yoga Behind Bars (YBB) completed their first-ever yoga teacher training program for prisoners. 10 men from 5 Washington prisons graduated from their inaugural Teacher Trainings Behind Bars (TTBB) program. Upon graduation, the men returned to their home facilities to teach yoga to their fellow inmates with the continued support of YBB staff and volunteers.
The 10 students at Stafford Creek were selected for their leadership and commitment to mentoring others. In August of 2015, they came from 5 different prisons around the state, most of them serving life sentences. These students participated in 100+ hours of training, lead by YBB teachers Laura Prudhomme and Dawn Hanson, as well as special guest teachers. After completing the training, each participant returned to their home facility to teach yoga under the guidance of Yoga Behind Bars.
Yoga Behind Bars offers tools that help students become more whole, remain healthy, and prepare for their successful return to our communities. Prisoners learn yoga, with breathing techniques, which help them relax, helping curb stress and negative impulses.
Starting with one yoga teacher in one facility in 2008, today a team of over 50+ incredible yoga instructors teach an average of 20-26 classes a week in thirteen locations. Every day an average of 30 incarcerated students practice yoga and meditation through their programs.
Graduates expressed why yoga is important to them below.
In the Fall of 2016, YBB will bring the TTBB to the women’s prison in Purdy, Washington.
Other interesting advancements that YBB is currently working on include:
- Classes for DOC staff members: this is a new initiative we are working on to increase compassion and reduce stress in prisons. Stay tuned.
- YBB in Eastern Washington: we plan to expand to eastern WA by summer of 2016. This initiative will bring us towards meeting our goals as an organization to provide yoga to 50% of WA facilities, and will provide mentors to our recently graduated teacher trainees behind bars.
YBB’s is currently requesting support for their 2nd Teacher Training Behind Bars at Washington Corrections Center for Women. View the campaign to raise the money needed for this groundbreaking program!
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