Prison Yoga Project - Women's YTT

Launching a Yoga Teacher Training in Prison: Empowering Women Through Yoga

This past Friday night, 18 women and one life-sized plastic skeleton gathered in a small classroom at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. Excitement was high, and the energy was focused. After completing a six-month preparation intensive, 16 prisoners were about to begin an RYT200 yoga teacher training.

Over the next 11 months, these women will join two teachers from the Prison Yoga Project to delve into the study of Anatomy and Physiology, Sanskrit, Yoga History and Philosophy, Postures, Teaching Methodology, and Ethics and Yogic Lifestyle. At the end of their program, they will graduate as yoga teachers and will be eligible to register with Yoga Alliance at the RYT200 level, a qualification that will allow them to teach behind bars and in the free world.

Laughter, anxiety, confusion and understanding wove together as the women explored the structure of fundamental poses, took turns practicing and teaching, meditated, read, and stumbled over the meaning of words in an unfamiliar language. Coming from a broad variety of backgrounds and covering a wide age span, the women drew together to support one another.

At the end of the evening on Sunday, after 16 hours of training, the group sat together for one final guided meditation. Tired and happy, loaded down with homework and practice guidelines for the following month, they returned to the routine of their daily lives, the seeds of learning already emerging.

Will there be struggles along the way? Certainly. The path towards becoming a teacher is never easy, and life in prison is not designed to be smooth. But the bonds of yoga have been established, and they are powerful.

Kath MeadowsKath Meadows,
Training Coordinator
Director of Women Prisoner Initiatives,
Prison Yoga Project

Your support can help us to complete this training, and to seed a scholarship fund that will educate more women behind bars. Learn more and donate today.