Prison Yoga Project

The Prison Yoga Project

Massachusetts Chapter

“To heal the pain and suffering in the world requires us to heal our own pain and suffering, so we no longer unconsciously inflict pain and suffering on others.”

— James Fox

Founder, Prison Yoga Project

About Us

A group of volunteer yoga teachers came together in 2017 to form the Massachusetts Chapter of the Prison Yoga Project. Our mission is to continue the work of the nationally recognized Prison Yoga Project by bringing trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness practices to prisoners across the state of Massachusetts. We are building a network of PYP-trained yoga instructors to teach in correctional facilities and rehabilitation centers. We gratefully partner with the Hands to Heart Center in Boston to reach and support new teachers interested in prison yoga.

Become a Prison Yoga Project Teacher

The first Massachusetts Prison Yoga Training was held in April, 2017 at the Arlington Center in Arlington, Mass. The response from the Massachusetts yoga community was very enthusiastic. Hands to Heart Center is planning to host another PYP training in 2018, dates to be announced.

Join the Mass Chapter of PYP

All teachers are welcome to help us build a community of prison yoga teachers. If you would like to be involved the chapter, please register as volunteer with the Hands to Heart Center so we can add you to our contact list.

Where We Work

In 2017, we launched several pilot programs at county and state correctional facilities in Massachusetts. We continue to develop relationships across the state.

Yoga in Prison

Most prisoners carry unresolved traumas from early in life, such as physical, sexual or emotional abuse, addiction or witnessing violent crime. These traumas are heightened in the prison environment, leading to depression, anxiety, violence, grief, agitation and physical pain. Our work has demonstrated that yoga taught as a mindfulness practice can help address trauma and support behavioral rehabilitation. Yoga develops self-awareness, self control, non-reactivity, self-acceptance, increased sensitivity toward oneself and empathy for others. Our objective is to provide prisoners with mindfulness tools they can tap into at all times to gain clarity, find peace, diffuse anger and discover new ways of thinking and being.

Prisoners who participate in Prison Yoga Project classes report the following benefits:

  • Reduction of Stress
  • More able to focus on positive instead of negative
  • Support in addiction recovery
  • Greater Mental Clarity
  • Pain relief
  • Improved sleep
  • Better able to deal with mental and emotional strain of prison
  • Greater access to inner peace


Learn More


Contact the Mass Chapter of the Prison Yoga Project

John McDonough:

Deborah O’Neil: