Foundational Training: Yoga Through the Lens of Trauma and Incarceration

This 34-hour training provides a solid foundation for understanding the necessity of addressing interpersonal and systemic trauma as a primary underlying force behind incarceration and the rationale for body-based mindfulness practices, such as yoga, to address that trauma.

This online training is an evolution of the popular in-person weekend training we have offered since 2010.  More than 3,000 people have attended one of our training programs. Many have become facilitators leading yoga practices with incarcerated men, women, and youth; some have even started their own yoga service programs. We’ve had lawyers, therapists, social workers, formerly incarcerated people, law enforcement officers, and others working in prisons and jails attend our training.

This training provides a solid foundation for understanding the necessity of addressing interpersonal and systemic trauma as a primary underlying force behind incarceration and the rationale for body-based mindfulness practices, such as yoga, to address that trauma.

The training consists of 24 hours of self-paced, online learning with an additional 6 options of 2-hour virtual workshops. Four of these workshops are required for your certification, bringing us to 34 hours of training. We believe in choice and agency and want you to choose which workshops best suit you.

The online learning content consists of six parts:

  • An Overview of Incarceration and Philosophies of Justice
  • Race, Gender, Class, and Incarceration
  • Trauma, Mental Health, Addiction, and Incarceration
  • Yoga for Trauma
  • Yoga for Incarcerated People
  • Yoga Service and Personal Transformation

Each section consists of a guided, self-paced online study with curated readings, videos, podcasts, image galleries, and research assignments. Within each section, quizzes support topics to support integration of the content and provide an opportunity for self-reflection. 

Throughout the training, you will have the chance to interact with Prison Yoga Project trainers and other participants in a series of workshops (see below), in virtual discussion groups, and you will have access to an online discussion forum to ask questions and share insights. 

The training also gives you access to practice videos to experience our approach to trauma-informed yoga. And you’ll receive a PDF copy of the book Yoga: a Path for Healing and Recovery written by James Fox and Freedom From the Inside by Josefin Wikstrom and James Fox; the same books we distribute free of charge to incarcerated people across the US and in Mexico.

There is tremendous potential in this field of service. The incarceration environment intensifies and makes explicit themes we see running throughout our society. It shows us the worst of humanity and the best. It provides a lens we can use to examine the world around us and ourselves. Journeying into this world will likely change you, perhaps significantly. We often hear from people who facilitate yoga inside that they lose interest in teaching elsewhere. We encounter something real and meaningful when we step into the service in one of humanity’s most traumatized and traumatizing environments. There is tremendous potential for deep healing through service.

Who should attend?

This training is for anyone who would benefit from:

  • perspective on the current state and the historical roots of our criminal justice system,
  • awareness of the prevalence, mechanisms, and impacts of trauma, especially as they relate to crime
  • understanding yoga and other embodied mindfulness practices as a path for healing trauma and transforming our system of justice

This training is not just for yoga professionals. It’s for:

  • anyone working in prison or jail as staff or as part of a community-based or non-profit organization
  • lawyers, therapists, social workers, addiction counselors, teachers, and other people whose work is in or intersects with the criminal justice system
  • formerly-incarcerated people and their friends and family
  • people interested in bringing about a more effective and humane approach to addressing crime, addiction, and mental health in our communities

What to expect?

  • 24 hours of self-paced study
  • Six 2-hour workshops held via Zoom – you get to choose which ones! Only four required for certification
  • Practice videos
  • A PDF copy of Yoga: a Path for Healing and Recovery and Freedom From the Inside

When can I start?

We offer this program on an ongoing basis; you can start whenever you like.

About the Workshops

Our Foundational Training includes six 2-hour workshops supplementing the self-paced online content. These workshops introduce Prison Yoga Project’s approach to trauma-informed yoga facilitation through practice and an embodied exploration of various topics. The workshop titles are:

  1. Exploring Embodied Identity
  2. Experiencing Yoga and the Nervous System
  3. Understanding Trauma and Incarceration
  4. Trauma-Informed Yoga Facilitation Part 1
  5. Self-Care and Somatic Tools for Non-Facilitators
  6. Trauma-Informed Yoga Facilitation Part 2 

Each workshop provides activities to promote self-reflection on critical material and connection with other participants. If possible, we recommend attending the workshops in order.

These virtual workshops are conducted via Zoom. We prefer attendees join with their video and audio on so that we may practice together as if we are in the same room. 

Each workshop includes a short yoga practice that participants can complete while seated in everyday clothes. Participants are welcome to turn their videos off during the practice session. 

We do not record the virtual workshops because of their interactive nature and so participants can feel more comfortable openly sharing.

How much does it cost? 

We are offering a tiered-pricing model:

  • Benefactor – $595
  • Supporter – $495
  • Community – $395

**When you choose a higher tier, a tax-deductible donation is included:

Supporter Tier: $100 tax-deductible donation

Benefactor Tier: $200 tax-deductible donation

For people who can afford to pay a little more, the extra you give covers a part of the cost for those who cannot. 

For those with constrained finances, we also offer a limited number of scholarships. Scholarship applications are evaluated based on economic need, identification with a disproportionately impacted group by trauma and incarceration, and the likelihood of applying the knowledge and skills learned in service to the community. You will find the scholarship application here.

Course Content

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Before We Get Started

Section One - The Criminal Justice System
Section Two - Race, Gender, Class, and Incarceration
Section Three - Trauma, Mental Health, Addiction, and Incarceration
Section Four - Yoga for Trauma
Section Five - Yoga for Incarcerated People
Section Six - Yoga Service and Personal Transformation
Not Enrolled
$395 / $495 / $595

Course Includes

  • 14 Lessons
  • 35 Topics
  • 30 Quizzes
  • Course Certificate