Washington | Yoga may not only improve physical and mental health but could also help incarcerated fathers improve their parenting skills, new research claims. We would have a class on a specific topic, like child development or setting limits, said Jennifer Crawford from the Washington State University.
That would last about an hour, then a yoga instructor would come in and give a guided yoga class, said Crawford. The study, located at Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee, US, took place over three years with 14 different groups of male inmates. The programme was advertised among the jail population; volunteers, who had to be parents of young children and pass a security screening, were recruited.
The results showed that inmates demonstrated being more aware and accepting of their vulnerability and responsiveness to children, among other benefits. The programme had a goal of preventing child abuse and reducing recidivism by improving parents’ resilience.
Yoga can be physically demanding, and the initial responses we got from the participants confirmed that, Crawford said. I believe the yoga practice helped participants become ready to learn and increased their willingness to try new ideas, absorb new information and begin to apply these in their lives, she said.
Although the yoga instructor for each lesson couldn’t physically touch the participants due to jail regulations, Crawford said the classes didn’t look that unusual. The instructor started every class with a centring exercise, then taught simple sequences that focused on standing poses; more complicated poses were not used due to potential health issues among the inmates. Outside of the class setting, the inmates did journaling exercises such as writing about their own upbringing or ways they communicate with their children.
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