Psychological and cognitive benefits of yoga among UK prisoners

Journal article citation:
Prison Service Journal, 213, 2014, pp.37-42.
Her Majesty's Prison Service of England and Wales

This paper reports a recent pioneering study conducted in 7 West Midlands prisons on the effects of a 10-week yoga course on mood, wellbeing, and cognition. Yoga is associated with numerous physical benefits and, in individuals with psychiatric difficulties, psychological benefits such as the reduction of depression and anxiety.In line with this, findings in the general community have linked yoga to improvements in mood, reductions in anxiety, anger and aggression, and reductions in perceived stress. There is also some indication that yoga practice may have cognitive benefits: for example, yoga improves performance in memory tasks and attention in non-incarcerated samples. These findings suggest that yoga may be an effective practice in UK prisons, where there is a clear need for interventions that address high rates of psychological problems and reduced wellbeing experienced by prisoners. By addressing known criminogenic agents, including negative affective states, impulsivity, and difficulties regulating emotions, yoga may serve rehabilitative functions and help reduce high rates of re-offending that are observed in the UK and other countries. The main findings of the study are discussed as well as potential implications for yoga as a rehabilitative intervention for incarcerated individuals. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
prisons, physical exercise, prisoners, wellbeing, rehabilitation, intervention;
Content type:
United Kingdom, England
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ISSN print:
0300 3558

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