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Empowering a Community from the Inside Out: A Program Evaluation of a Yoga Teacher Training Program for Adults in Custody

1 January 2017


Integrated teaching of yoga psychology (i.e., all eight limbs) in the context of modern research is an emerging field that has been successfully applied to multiple contexts; however, such integration was limited in the Departments of Corrections until now. The current study was a program evaluation of an integrated yoga teacher training program to understand the impact of bringing yoga psychology (as an integrated, eight-limbs, system) to adults in custody (AICs) – teaching them to become certified yoga teachers who will teach other AICs. The study utilized quantitative and qualitative measures to assess the yoga teacher program’s impact on the individual, their relationships, and the overall prison environment. The study included assessments and interviews with 12 adults in custody (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 pre-test 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 pre-test to program completion to follow-up. Qualitative methods (used for 31 key informant and focus group interviews) revealed themes that illuminated positive effects regarding their personal experiences, attitudes and values, behaviors, relationships, yoga philosophy in prison, culture, and future directions on the prison community. 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 the Department of Corrections.


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