Yoga, jail, prison, incarcerate, correctional


While yoga interventions in the incarcerated setting are on the rise, little is known regarding their efficacy. The objective of this article is to assess the effects of yoga on the well-being of incarcerated populations. Two reviewers systematically searched PubMed, PsycInfo, EBSCO MegaFILE, Web of Science, Science Direct, AMED, and Google Scholar for yoga intervention studies in jails and prisons. The search yielded 54 results; ten papers met inclusion criteria. Evaluated outcomes included stress, cognitive performance, mental and physical well-being and re-incarceration rates. While the majority of yoga practiced was hatha, yoga interventions also included a focus on yogic philosophy and spirituality. The reviewed studies found statistically significant outcomes pointing to the benefits of yoga. Many of the studies were limited by study design challenges (such as lack of control groups) and minimal discussion regarding the intervention's purported mechanism. Yoga interventions in the incarcerated setting are associated with positive well-being outcomes. Future interventions can choose outcomes based both on the type of yoga practiced and on the needs of the criminal justice population.

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