Dubai inmates gain new prison smarts with yoga, breathing

IAHV aims to train 1,000 inmates in a year.
Hundreds of Dubai prisoners learn meditation and yoga to heal trauma

Dubai: Hundreds of prison inmates in Dubai have found fresh optimism to turn their life around with yoga, helping them breathe in positivity and breathe out the trauma.

Aided by a unique programme, the Prison Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training (Prison Smart), an initiative of the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) and supported by Dubai government’s Community Development Authority (CDA), many prisoners in Dubai have had life-changing experiences.

Applying healing methods such as yoga, pranayama and other breathing techniques to help prisoners improve their mental and physical health, the programmes aim to help people caught up in the criminal justice system.

Over the next year, IAHV aims to train at least 1,000 inmates in Dubai in new skills, imparted by Prison Smart. Globally, more than 700,000 prison inmates in 60 countries have benefited from the programme, helping end the repeated cycle of violence, abuse and return to prison.

The programme has been a success with prisoners in Dubai who now sleep better, think more clearly and are beginning to take responsibility for their actions, say social workers involved in the programme.

Course participants have reported a decrease in depression, anxiety and interpersonal conflict; clarity in thinking; increased alertness and resilience to daily life stresses and improved immunity and physical well-being.

Sausan Mahmood, specialist social worker at CDA, said the authority has received great feedback from prisoners who have attended the Prison Smart programme.

There is a significant change in inmate attitudes, especially those with longer sentences such as life imprisonment. There is a perceptible decrease in instances of violence and fighting, and they have become more organised and responsible. With people from so many different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds under the same roof, yoga and other breathing exercises help them to get along, maintain a sense of harmony and be nicer to one another, said – Mahmood.

Inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. That person is also a victim of ignorance, small-mindedness and lack of awareness. It’s stress, lack of a broad vision on life, lack of understanding, and bad communication that leads to violence in society, said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, IAHV’s founder.

Prison Smart is an internationally renowned rehabilitation programme that empowers inmates with skills needed to heal trauma.


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