Seattle Prisons Using Yoga For Rehabilitation

Prison is a hostile and volatile place, and for many incarcerated it can be a living hell. Rehabilitation centers, as they are called, are showing high recidivism rates and posing a question if prison really helps rehabilitate inmates at all?

The U.S. recidivism rate, or the rate of re-incarceration once an inmate is released, is over 50 percent for inmates released in their first year.

And the number increases the longer they are out. Over 65 percent of former inmates are rearrested within the three year mark of being released, and over 75 percent of former inmates are rearrested during the five year mark, according to the National Institute of Justice.

The U.S. incarceration rate is the highest in the world, and 41 percent of juveniles are arrested by the time they are 23 years old, putting them in a system that is difficult to get out of.

The U.S. also still uses solitary confinement as punishment, which has been deemed by international law to be a method of torture, according to

The prison system has been under scrutiny with its privatization and lack of funding for programs to keep inmates busy and learning skills they can apply once they serve their time.

Instead, many inmates learn how to become better criminals and end up spinning through the revolving door that is the prison system.

But one Seattle-based organization wants to help change they way inmates spend their time while serving their sentence behind bars.

Yoga Behind Bars provides Seattle prisons with yoga classes to help teach inmates how to keep their mind and body peaceful while living in stressful and traumatic conditions.

Their main goal is to provide rehabilitation through yoga by teaching those who practice how to meditate, deal with stress and trauma, and reduce anger, depression and anxiety.

Yoga has also shown to be a great method of therapy for substance abuse problems and destructive behavior.

By helping inmates learn how to manage their behavioral and emotional struggles, Yoga Behind Bars not only provides the prison with a more calm atmosphere, but it also helps inmates interact with each other in a less aggressive manner.

The program operates at 17 facilities ranging from jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers, and is taught by volunteer yoga teachers, according to NowThis.

And inmates who choose to can even become a certified yoga instructor and teach yoga.

Aside from the success Yoga Behind Bars has shown to have inside the prisons, it also has success outside as well. Out of the 4000 participants, the program has only seen an 8 percent recidivism rate from those who took four or more yoga classes, according to their website.

That’s true rehabilitation.