Topics: Health, Fitness, Prison

Yoga in Prisons to help inmates rehabilitate

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Auckland

The inmates at Auckland Women's Regional Corrections Facility are uniting body, mind and soul as part of their rehabilitation through the Yoga in Prisons programme. The inmates say the classes are enjoyable and they value the calm it brings to what can sometimes be a very tense place. 

Extending the body and mind for the spiritual well-being of these inmates.

Inmate 1, says "so often you can get caught up in a moment and you know your breathing gets faster and just being mindful of it and slowing it down it relaxes the tension out of you."

The Yoga in Prisons programme provides classes to inmates as part of their rehabilitation, equipping the women with tools to cope with tension, anger and stress.

Yoga Instructor Gemma Hogan says "so right now we're starting here building awareness of body building awareness of breath and then what that will do is, in turn, help people think about their actions versus reactions."

Inmate 2, says "Concentration, balance, what else did I learn? Being mindful in your own body. You've got to know your body and talk to your body and listen to your body.
"It's stimulating and you know there's a lot of tension and stress here in the prison so what better to come to is a class on cardio and then meditation to just relax yourself."

The Yoga Education Trust has its yoga programme in six prisons already but says it would like one in every prison throughout the country.

Corrections Officer Kim Subritzky says "when things get tough and they have some challenges on the outside then yoga will bring them back spiritually and mentally just calming themselves. Just looking within knowing that they've done it before and they can certainly handle anything that's out there."

Hogan says "everybody deserves to have access to yoga. You just focus on yourself and how you are how your body is how your mind is how your breath is so everybody deserves to have access to that."

These inmates say they're learning tools through the yoga classes that will help better prepare them for life on the outside. 

*The names of inmates have been changed for anonymity.