Yoga in prison. A progressive development for prison health and rehabilitation?
Abstract: Drawing together the right to health in prison, and the understanding that yoga has numerous positive impacts on health, this paper explores the potential for using yoga as a way to improve prison conditions and experience from a human rights perspective. Secondary literature is used to answer two research questions: whether yoga is an appropriate and effective tool for realising international health standards in prisons and whether yoga is an appropriate and effective tool for rehabilitation in prisons. Key findings are that there are numerous positive outcomes that could be experienced from prison yoga in relation to realising the right to prison health, but that awareness must be had for the relevant risks, and that the effectiveness of a programme depends on the quality of its construction and delivery. Additionally, that research is in its early stages, but that there are promising signs that yoga could have positive outcomes in reducing recidivism, but that there is a real risk for manipulating this into a form of social control. In order to minimise this risk, the focus of prison yoga programmes should remain on the positive individual experiences in relation to health, and that more research is needed in order to understand the nexus between yoga and behaviour and decision making. A final key finding was the need for more robust research in general regarding prison yoga and its potential to both raise its profile within the criminal justice community and to better understand how to deliver such programmes in the safest and most effective way.
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