Prison Yoga Project Marked a Major Milestone This Year

It’s nice to have a reason to celebrate, and this year marks an important milestone for Prison Yoga Project. In June, we began operating as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit. This transition allows us to improve and expand our programming, add needed staff, and open up new opportunities for funding. We are forever grateful to the Give Back Yoga Foundation for its sponsorship over the past seven years and its ongoing support. 

After being away far too long, I’ve recently gone back to San Quentin to practice yoga with our people there and it’s far too apparent our mission is even more critical now. Incarcerated people have borne the brunt of the pandemic, cut off from friends and family and savaged by outbreaks. It’s a trauma that further compounds their existing trauma.

In my nearly two decades working with incarcerated men, women, and youth, I see developmental trauma as the common denominator that leads them to prison or jail.

Traumatic experiences come in many forms: abuse, neglect, poverty, racism, and the list goes on. And I have witnessed the impact of intergenerational trauma and systemic oppression on people of color and those who come from immigrant families. This developmental trauma initiates enduring struggles with impulse control, aggression, substance use, and other physical and mental health issues. Up close, it’s obvious to see how trauma can lead to criminal behavior and ultimately to incarceration. 

Unfortunately, effective trauma treatment is sorely lacking in prisons and jails. Making up for this lack of trauma-informed care is the mission of Prison Yoga Project. 

We know from the evidence that our methodology works, but nothing could convince me more than when I hear a former participant say, “Without yoga, I would still be in prison.” 

You may never set foot in a prison or jail, but you can still impact a prisoner’s life. Now is the time to show your support for our mission. A gift from you will help us to start our first full year as an independent non-profit on a solid foundation.

In the coming weeks, you’ll hear from some of our staff about our plans for 2022 and the rationale for these priorities: improved program monitoring and evaluation, new resources for youth and correctional staff, and distance-learning programs for areas we cannot reach with in-person programs. As you read, I hope you’re inspired to join us as a donor this holiday season. We need the support of our community to make it all happen. 

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Thank you for being a caring and understanding part of our community!

Sincerely yours, 

James Fox
Founding Director
Prison Yoga Project