Yoga increases prisoners’ wellbeing
As the number of people who practice yoga grows, a new population of yogis may be popping up where you least expect – behind bars. A recent study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research reveals that the breathing and stretching exercises involved in basic yoga help to improve the mental wellbeing of prisoners. Inmates throughout seven UK prisons who participated in the 10-week program attended one two-hour yoga class each week. Prisoners reported improved moods and reduced stress and also performed better at a behavioral control-related task than their counterparts whose daily routines remained unchanged.
Researchers view these results positively, especially considering the fact that more than half of the prison population struggles with mental health problems, compared to just 11 percent of the general population. The results indicate that yoga could be a relatively inexpensive yet beneficial method to begin to address mental health issues such as personal distress, aggression, and antisocial behavior in today’s prisons.
Can yoga really help inmates feel better, and ultimately lead to positive, crime-free lives once they rejoin the community? Experts seem to think so.