Physical Well Being
The physical benefits of yoga are well documented. The American Osteopathic Association (“AOA”) has determined that the relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga: can lessen chronic pain, particularly lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome;
1. lowers blood pressure and reduces insomnia;
2. increases flexibility, and increases muscle strength and tone;
3. improves respiration, energy and vitality;
4. maintains a balanced metabolism;
5. results in weight reduction;
6. improves cardiovascular and circulatory health; and
7. improves athletic performance and helps protect from injury.
Considering the issue from a financial perspective alone, providing inmates with the opportunity to cultivate a regular yoga practice will reduce costs associated with medical interventions and health maintenance for illnesses associated with sedentary lifestyles such as heart disease, diabetes, and renal failure.
Mental Well Being
Yoga helps manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. The AOA has also determined that yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life. Yoga’s incorporation of meditation and linking breath with movement:
1. creates mental clarity and calmness;
2. increases body awareness;
3. relieves chronic stress patterns;
4. relaxes the mind;
5. centers attention; and
6. sharpens concentration.
There are two primary responses to unresolved trauma: violence and addiction. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, at least one half of the all males incarcerated in federal prisons are there for a drug related crime and at least 54% of all state inmates are there for a violent crime.
Most inmates suffer from unresolved trauma:
1. childhood trauma from abuse and neglect;
2. trauma associated with the criminal lifestyle;
3. trauma connected to the crimes they committed; and
4. trauma from being incarcerated.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist who has been treating people with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) for more than 40 years, has found that yoga was more effective than any medication to overcome trauma. His findings can be found in the “Resources” section of CY’s website, www.convictionyoga.com.
Spiritual Well Being
Yoga is a meditation based, spiritual discipline. Yoga and meditation:
1. result in the practitioner achieving a harmonious state of being, going with, instead of against, the flow of life;
2. improves one’s powers of empathy;
3. greatly reduces one’s ability to cause others harm; and
4. can increase one’s interests in other spiritual practices.
Yoga is a “religious neutral” practice, allowing inmates of any faith or belief system to participate.