Prison Yoga Program

AMURT runs prison programs in a variety of places. We teach inmates yoga and meditation, and help them get their lives together so they can tolerate prison better, and when they get out they stay out.

A recent study found that the reincarceration rate was only 8% for those who took Acarya Pashupati’s class 4 times, versus 25% for those who took it less often. The usual rate is often 50-70%. AMURT has led programs in four men’s and women’s prisons near Raleigh NC, led by Shiva Steve Ordog, and several in Haiti as well, led by Manavendra and Vishvamitra. At the last class in Women’s Prison in Port-au-Prince, the ladies in Vishvamitra’s class did not want to open their eyes after the meditation, the vibration was so strong. Other programs are being run in San Quentin prison in California, and also in Florida, led by Lawrence Huff. We are looking for more people to expand this program around the world. A $1,000 prize is being offered to the first person or team who can open up 10 more programs within the next year, and keep them running for 6 months.

Every Saturday morning, Acarya Pashupati (Steve Landau MD) brings an inmate from Wake Correctional Center to the Hallelujah Soup Kitchen in downtown Raleigh, NC. There they greet and interact with the guests, sing songs of devotion in many languages, including Kirtan in Sanskrit, Prabhat Samgiita in Bengali and English, Christian songs in English, and spirituals in Hebrew. Occasionally they give the opening sermon and prayers. Pictured is Pastor Moges Abebe, the leader of the Soup Kitchen, Pashupati, and one of our inmates, who is now released and is at home. They feed and entertain an average of 80-90 homeless people per day.


From Ray Rainjan Guthrey:

I was a psychologist/counselor for the California Department of Corrections for 26 years, beginning in 1983. I was able to submit a program for approval to the Director of Corrections in 1999 to allow me to have a regular yoga/meditation program developed by and for prison inmates. Our program was approved in late 1999 under the umbrella of the SAP (substance abuse program) on a maximum-level prison yard at Sierra Conservation Center, Jamestown California. We called our program the Inner Awareness Group, thereby avoiding any religious connotation. The supervisors of the SAP also approved the program as a therapeutic tool in combating substance abuse.

Our program consisted of asanas, kiirtan, sadhana and workshops including non-violent communication, tantric philosophy and more. We enjoyed 5 years with a core group of 30 or more high custody inmates. One inmate in particular, Vishvanath, became a great practitioner and ten years after initiation was given his parole. He now resides in Fresno, California with his wife who has also become a margi.