Yoga for people who experience disadvantage

04 Aug 2017


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We are spoilt for choice when it comes to yoga these days – in studios, gyms, and at local and international retreats. But what about people experiencing homelessness, or in hospitals and prisons? Not everyone can enjoy the luxury of simply attending a yoga class. That’s why we need organisations like The Yoga Foundation. The Yoga Foundation leads an evidence based movement to reduce anxiety and depression and improve quality of life among people who experience disadvantage – all through yoga’s teachings and practices. This is what they’ve been up to lately:


Prison Yoga Project

Back in April 2016, we were approached by a criminologist at Canberra University to see whether we ther could support a prison yoga research project. This project had a great team involved, comprising academics doing research and psychologists, as well as the full support of the team at the ACT prison – Alexander Maconochie Centre. One of our volunteers, Jenny Ellinghaus, helped coordinate the team and skyped with UK organisation The Prison Phoenix Trust to learn from their experiences introducing yoga into prisons. We recommended Canberra yoga teacher Marcus Edwardes and he started teaching yoga at the prison in January 2017, supported by The Yoga Foundation supervisor Janet Lowndes. Early indications from data analysis show that the participants really benefited from the yoga program and there will be two research papers produced later this year. We look forward to sharing an interview with Marcus about this rewarding teaching experience shortly.


Yoga for Refugee Women affected by trauma and domestic violence

The Yoga Foundation is partnering with Metro Assist (migrant support) to reach female refugees affected by domestic violence. This 8-week program, for women mainly from Bangladesh, is funded by the Vasudhara Foundation and aims to teach the women some techniques to manage feelings of overwhelm and anxiety and guide them through stressful situations.

Yoga for Forensic Patients, The Forensic Hospital

The Yoga Foundation has recently won funding for a 34-week program at The Forensic Hospital. This is going to be a very interesting project, working with University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to develop a research project to attach to this innovative program. We are looking forward to learning more about the effects of yoga on this population as there is little research on the benefits of yoga on forensic patients – a person found to be of unsound mind or permanently unfit for trial by the Mental Health Court. We are currently recruiting the teacher(s) for this program and hope to start in June 2017.

Sound like something you want to be a part of?

There are many, many ways that you can get involved in the wonderful work of The Yoga Foundation. The foundation has a network of dedicated volunteers, from yoga teachers to project managers. A general donation is of course always welcome, but this is not the only way to help out. Have you ever thought about donating a percentage of your teaching profits to The Foundation or another charity about which you feel passionate? Even a small donation can have a huge impact, and your students will see that you both talk and walk the beautiful philosophy of yoga, both on and off your mat. Contact The Yoga Foundation to learn about ways to help others access the gift of yoga and meditation.

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