July 18, (The Conversation) -- In 2017, a small group of male prisoners participated in an eight-week yoga program at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), which houses all adult prisoners in Canberra. While prison yoga programs have been evaluated in other countries, this yoga program was the first in Australia to be the subject of academic research.
In line with international research, our results published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology showed that participants received significant mental and physical health benefits from the program.
Specifically, prisoners showed improvements in their levels of depression, anxiety and stress. They also reported an increase in self-esteem and an improved ability to accept their emotional responses and engage in goal-directed behavior.
These are important outcomes because they are all crucial for the healthy functioning of the prison, and prisoners' ability to build strong relationships after release.