It may seem inappropriate to talk about yoga in an institution of this kind, however two years ago, an initiative was taken to introduce the practice of yoga in a special program for the owners of one of the penancers in Rio de Janeiro, aiming at improving their behavior through breathing exercises and yoga postures. The foundation that offers yoga classes free of charge to inmates , continues its mission even after they leave prison, so that former inmates can participate in yoga lessons without paying fees.
Inmates attend yoga classes once a week; they say that since they started practicing they feel that their personality traits have improved: they can concentrate more easily and are more balanced. The families of the prisoners are amazed by the changes they have noticed in their behavior, many of them, sharing with their family members, the newly acquired knowledge.
This was viewed with suspicion at first by inmates, some of whom were considered dangerous criminals, but as time went by, yoga instructors said they noticed substantial improvements in the behavior of detainees. Even if at first they opposed some resistance, now they are more and more open to receive new teachings, and the prison management is absolutely delighted to support the yoga teachers in their approach.
The Foundation aims to support the former inmates, even after they have come out of prison, so they can participate in yoga lessons further, benefiting from support in adapting to their new social life.
A successful case of the foundation is Christiano da Silva, who was detained for 26 years; he says you have to want to change, and if you really want that, yoga will help you!
We must also mention that it is already known that yoga restructures the personality at all its levels: physical, mental, intellectual and emotional, and is extremely beneficial in improving intellectual performances and social adaptation.
Considering these achievements, it seems that Yoga is one of the methods by which prisoners can be really helped to reintegrate into society, and even to do it with great success.