Leadership in Action: Prison Yoga Project

ON June 27, 2019
Leadership in Action

What does it mean to be a leader?

Leading the way as a business, as a country, or in an industry is a fearless enterprise. Leadership starts with recognizing where there is a problem, finding solutions to that problem, and finally, taking action to solve the problem. Leadership in action means being and modeling the change you hope to see in the world.

One of the fearless leaders of our time is James Fox, who began teaching yoga and meditation to prisoners at San Quentin Prison in 2002. His years of experience as a facilitator of victim/offender education, violence prevention, and emotional literacy classes for prisoners informed his work with prisoners. These experiences culminated in the eventual founding of Prison Yoga Project.

Prison Yoga Project is working to reform the criminal justice system from the inside out. Their “evidence-supported, trauma-informed approach to yoga and mindfulness supports people to face and release unresolved trauma safely and effectively. We provide resources and tools for recognizing and reducing aggression, impulsivity, reactivity, and despair. With these tools, they have a higher chance of taking personal responsibility and thinking and behaving differently. These tools and resources are the foundation for personal and social transformation.”

The video shared below tells the story of Prison Yoga Project, how James started teaching at San Quentin, the scope of the problem, and the struggles all prisoners have with violence and addiction.

James has since led practices and inspired the establishment of yoga programs in prisons and jails across the U.S. and internationally. Under his leadership, thousands of teachers have been trained to replicate PYP’s methodology in correctional facilities.

Leadership in Action

Our upcoming Prison Yoga Project training on August 10-11 is for anyone interested in creating a more humane and effective criminal justice system: therapists, social workers, lawyers, correctional officers, administrators, and, especially, yoga teachers who are ready to take their practice into the realm of service.

“I attended the Prison Yoga Project training at Namaste last summer and it has changed the way I teach as well as how I perceive my role as a teacher. I greatly respect and admire James Fox for creating this training and for personally doing this work of bringing yoga to prison inmates. My sister and I participated in the training together as we were both interested in expanding from teaching public classes at studios and gyms. This training helped me to understand how to teach anywhere where the majority of students will likely have experienced any form of trauma. It has also opened my eyes to teaching within the yoga studio as I have realized many students that come into yoga studios and gyms have also experienced trauma. I believe this is a great training for all teachers to become more sensitive to the needs of their students in any setting.”Odisa Walker, Namaste Instructor 

Leadership in Action Prison Yoga ProjectJoin us for this transformational program. Learn more here.


Photos courtesy of Prison Yoga Project.
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