Abstract

The current study evaluated a yoga teacher training program to understand the effect of bringing yoga psychology (as an integrated eight-limbed system) to adults in custody (AIC), who were trained to become yoga teachers who will in turn teach other AICs. The study used quantitative and qualitative measures to assess the yoga teacher training program's impact on individuals, their relationships, and the overall prison environment. The study included assessments and interviews with 12 AICs and nine yoga teacher volunteers, as well as key informant interviews with two correctional officers and five administrators who work within or directly with the Department of Corrections on the implementation of the program. Quantitative results revealed significant enhancements and sustainability in all key outcome variables (self-compassion, mindfulness, perceived stress, understanding of yoga philosophy, and teaching skills) from pretest to program completion and from completion to 3-month follow-up. Additionally, AIC yoga teachers became more similar on all outcome measures to the volunteer teachers from pretest to program completion and from completion to follow-up. Qualitative methods (used for 31 key informant and focus group interviews) revealed themes that illuminated positive effects on the prison community regarding participants' personal experiences, attitudes and values, behaviors, relationships, yoga philosophy in prison, culture, and future directions. Implications and recommendations are provided to support sustaining the current program and to help with the creation of new programs to infuse yoga philosophy into corrections departments.

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