The United States incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world. Globally, an estimated 11.6 million people are in jails and prisons, with the majority serving time for nonviolent offenses. The impact of mass incarceration is felt disproportionately by communities of color, with Black and Hispanic individuals making up a disproportionate number of those behind bars.

Yoga teachers and therapists are in a unique position to support incarcerated individuals and help move the criminal justice system from one of retribution to one of restoration. Yoga can provide a space for healing and self-reflection, allowing incarcerated individuals to heal trauma that may have led to criminal behavior. It can also be a powerful tool for those who work in the criminal justice system to manage stress, build empathy, and process trauma in their day-to-day work.

This course explores the relationship between trauma and incarceration, differences between restorative and retributive justice, and how yoga can support therapeutic rehabilitation. You'll learn about the relationship between trauma and one's likelihood to be incarcerated, its disproportionate impact on communities marginalized from centers of power, and the unique challenges of providing trauma-informed care in correctional settings. Whether you're a yoga teacher or therapist looking to work in a correctional setting, or simply interested in learning more about this important issue, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of how yoga can make a difference in the lives of those affected by mass incarceration.


    1. Introduction

    2. Creating a Cultural Shift in the Criminal Justice System

    3. The Impact of a Yoga Program in a Prison

    4. What is it Like to be Incarcerated in the World Today?

    5. A Picture of Mass Incarceration in the United States

    6. The Correctional System Beyond Incarceration

    7. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Prison System

    8. How Education and Poverty Impact Incarcerated People

    9. Alternatives to a Retributive Justice System

    10. Introduction to the Yoga Practice

    11. Grounding, Discharge, Releasing Frustration

    1. Introduction

    2. Addiction and Mental Health Among Incarcerated People

    3. What Do We Mean By Trauma?

    4. How Different Types of Trauma Show up in the Incarcerated Population

    5. Transgenerational Trauma, Gangs, and Criminalization

    6. Connection Between ACEs and Adult Criminality

    1. Introduction

    2. Bessel van der Kolk, MD on Trauma and the Body

    3. A Few Words About What's Next

    4. How Yoga Supports Healing from Trauma

    5. Integrating Cognitive Approaches with Yoga

    6. Developing Greater Empathy and Sensitivity to Self through Yoga

    7. Helping Bring Emotional Balance to Incarcerated Women

    8. Introduction to the Yoga Practice

    9. Feeling Sensations, Moving with Breath Awareness

    10. How Yoga Made a Difference in One Incarcerated Woman’s Life

    1. Introduction

    2. How the Principles and Practices of Classical Yoga Support Rehabilitation

    3. How the Path of Karma Yoga Informs Our Work

    4. Yoga Therapy as a Framework to Support Incarcerated People

    5. The Distinction Between Teaching and Facilitating Yoga Classes

    1. Introduction

    2. Research on the Benefits of Yoga for Incarcerated People

    3. Incarcerated Men Share Their Experiences with Yoga

    4. The Impact of the Prison Yoga Project Programs

    5. How to Continue Your Training with Prison Yoga Project

    6. How to Get Continuing Education Credits for this Course

About this course

  • $149.00
  • 42 lessons
  • 3 hours of video content

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You'll have access to the course for a year!


Instructor Bio:

James Fox MA is the founder of the Prison Yoga Project. He is a certified yoga instructor who has dedicated himself to developing a trauma-informed approach for teaching yoga to incarcerated people which has resulted in the establishment of yoga programs in jails and prisons throughout the U.S., Mexico, Europe, and Australia. A practitioner of yoga and mindfulness meditation for more than 30 years, upon receiving his teaching credentials in 2000, James began his mission of sharing the benefits of yoga with incarcerated people. James has taught yoga classes at San Quentin Prison since 2002. He is also trained in restorative justice principles and practices and has experience facilitating victim/offender education, emotional literacy, and violence prevention courses with prisoners. He is the author of Yoga A Path for Healing and Recovery, and co-author of Freedom from The Inside – A Woman’s Yoga Practice Guide. He is also a contributor to the book, Best Yoga Practices for Veterans. James has served on the faculty for Loyola Marymount University’s (Los Angeles) Yoga, Mindfulness and Social Change program and was an advisor to the National Institute of Health-sponsored Chicago Urban Mindfulness Program. He has been awarded U.S. State Department Grants to advise and train governmental and non-governmental personnel in Central America involved in prisoner and ex-gang member rehabilitation programs. In 2015, he was honored by Yoga Journal Magazine with a Karma Yoga Award.

James Fox

Founder of Prison Yoga Project


Instructor Bio:

Founder and Executive Director of Trauma-Informed Yoga and Movement Sweden, Prison Yoga Project's Program Directo for Europe and India, and co-developer of Krimyoga, the evidence-based Swedish prison yoga project. Additionally, she has developed trauma-informed yoga, dance, and therapeutic movement programs for forensic psychiatry, juvenile justice systems, refugee integration, and trauma treatment centers for youth and children. Josefin is co-author of the book Freedom from the Inside, A Woman’s Yoga Practice Guide.

Josefin Wikström

Program Director and Training Coordinator of the Prison Yoga Project

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