Ayla Benjamin Portrait

Creating a Community of Healing in Prison (with Yoga)

My connection to the prison system has taken different forms – from teaching yoga and meditation at Salinas Valley State Prison, facilitating GRIP at Soledad’s Central Training Facility and visiting other sites for training and support.

From these experiences, I educated myself and others about the systemic oppression that is human incarceration.

For the independent study requirement of my five hundred hour advanced yoga teacher training, I produced an eight session yoga program for prison systems.

My intention for the project was to create a yoga program with a foundation of safety.

I wanted to introduce yoga in a safe, accessible, and trauma conscious way to set the foundation for a beginners' practice and cultivate a sense of community between incarcerated participants.

What resulted was an opportunity to foster emotional healing inside of a maximum security prison.

We discovered that it’s possible to develop a yoga practice even with few material resources, limited mobility, and virtually no privacy or personal space.

I am motivated to transform what I learned from this yoga program into an accessible, informative book:

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