BENEFITING: GIVE BACK YOGA FOUNDATION
I am Angie Still, and I go into prisons on a voluntary basis to teach yoga to incarcerated men and women in South Carolina. The Give Back Yoga Foundation supports the Prison Yoga Project by sending free books to incarcerated individuals to help them learn yoga mindfulness practices. The Give Back Yoga Foundation also support programs that benefit veterans, first responders, and those in recovery. Many incarcerated inmates are veterans of our armed services, suffer from addictions, or a combination of all. Offering yoga to incarcerated individuals helps to lower tax payer costs by reducing the need for medical care associated with mental, physical and emotional disorders among inmates. In addition, yoga helps inmates learn to respond rather than react; an inmate who is able to maintain grace under pressure is less likely to engage in violent behavior against other inmates, himself/herself, or correctional officers. Finally, inmates who develop a regular yoga practice while incarcerated show lower rates of recidivism once released. According to James Fox of the Prison Yoga Project, "Most prisoners suffer from Complex Trauma, chronic interpersonal trauma experienced early in life such as abandonment, hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, and witnessing crime – including murder. We call this 'original pain.' These experiences, imprinted by the terrifying emotions that accompany them, are held deeply in the mind, and perhaps more importantly, in the body, with the dissociative effects of impulsive/reactive behavior, and tendencies toward drug and alcohol addiction as well as violence. Carrying unresolved trauma into their lives impacts everything they do, often landing them in prison, where they experience even more trauma." Currently, I am trying to expand my efforts by recruiting yoga instructors as well as accruing the necessary equipment and funding to continue to bring inmates yoga. Please consider donating to my efforts. I am also currently working on editing a book of inmate writings (upon approval) for publication on Amazon to raise money for my organization. In addition, I am involved in research studies through the University of San Francisco and Wake Forest University to determine the impact of yoga on incarcerated individuals.