prison yoga

How Yoga Can Aid Rehabilitation for Prison Inmates

Published on
March 19, 2019

Some see prison solely as a form of punishment. Others view it as a place for rehabilitation. To inmates, prison can mean a lot of different things—but most would agree that it’s a stressful place to live. Living in a prison setting heightens inmates’ psychological distress levels, ultimately impeding their rehabilitation.

Yoga is one way of combating the stressors of the prison setting. According to a recent study, by participating in yoga programming, prison inmates can find relief from symptoms like paranoia and achieve better psychological health overall.

The prison yoga study lasted for 10 weeks and had 152 participants—mostly male. Participants were split into two groups: one which took a weekly 90-minute yoga class for the duration of the study, and another which did the same but swapping out the yoga class for 90 minutes of any physical activity. Participants recorded their feelings and symptoms throughout the 10 weeks.

Adding physical activity—yoga or not—to the participating inmates’ routines “significantly reduced [their] levels of psychological distress.” However, adding yoga, specifically, to their routines, had additional benefits. Yoga reduced symptoms of paranoia, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and somatization.

In the study’s analysis, yoga was highlighted as an effective way to aid with the inmate’s reintegration into society after being released. Because of the psychological benefits it provides, adopting a regular yoga practice may also lessen inmates’ likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs upon release and reduce recidivism.

It’s worth noting that this study was conducted in Sweden, and Scandinavian prison systems have a reputation for being some of the world’s most humane and progressive. While the benefits of yoga on the emotional and physical well-being of those in distress have been well researched and documented, external factors could still have skewed the study’s results.

Nonetheless, this study offers important insight into how powerful a yoga practice can be. It can not only improve the well-being of those in psychological distress but also improve society at large, helping to rehabilitate inmates and make it easier for them to reintegrate.

If you’re interested in helping to make yoga programming more common in prison systems, consider supporting one of the following organizations by volunteering or making a financial donation:

Share with


Our Latest

Yoga Articles
  • Yoga for Thanksgiving

    Yoga for Thanksgiving: 10 Asanas for Gratitude

  • Siddhis

    Siddhis: Definition, Types, Tips and Dangers

  • Spiritual Health and Wellness

    12 Yogic Ways to Cultivate Spiritual Health and Wellness

  • Bhakti Yoga

    Bhakti Yoga: the Yoga of Devotion

  • Sri Yantra

    Sri Yantra: Meaning, Symbolism, and Benefits

  • Yoga Weight Loss Plan

    7 Ways To Add Yoga To Your Weight Loss Plan

  • Yoga for Psychic Abilities

    10 Ways Yoga Can Boost Your Psychic Abilities

  • Bhakti Yoga Quiz

    Quiz: Which Bhakti Yoga Practice Best Resonates with You?

Remove Ads with a

Premium Membership

Viewing ads supports YogaBasics, which allows us to continue bringing you quality yoga content. Sign up for a premium membership to remove all ads and enjoy uninterrupted access to the best yoga resources on the web.

Explore More

Yoga TipsAdviceArticlesPracticesBasicsTechniques

  • hot yoga

    Hot Yoga: Definition, Benefits, Cautions and Tips for Newbies

  • Yoga astrology element

    Yoga and Astrology: Find the Best Practices for Your Sign

  • CBD for Yoga

    6 Ways CBD Can Improve Your Yoga Practice

  • Restarting a yoga practice

    11 Ways to Reboot Your Yoga Practice

  • practicing a yoga lifestyle

    13 Key Tips for Creating a Successful Yoga Lifestyle

  • yoga on carpet

    Practicing Yoga on Carpet: Pros, Cons and Top Tips

  • Common Yoga Symbols

    The Meaning and Use of Common Yoga Symbols

  • drinking water in yoga

    Water and Yoga: When Is the Best Time to Drink?

  • Yoga Pose For Empowerment

    4 Paths to Find Empowerment in Yoga

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jasmine Sara Avatar
About the author
Jasmine is from England and is currently traveling South America teaching yoga, writing and working remotely. She completed her 200-hour YTTC in India and went on to study advanced modules in Yoga Therapeutics in the North of England. Yoga has been hugely beneficial in her life and an integral part of her healing journey, so she is inspired to share this well-being practice with others. She loves to guide traditional yoga and meditation classes as well as combining yoga with dance in her Yoga Dance workshops that have a focus on free movement to music.
Yoga Basics