Lessons in Flexibility: Introducing a Yoga Program in an Australian Prison


International research provides support for yoga as a wellbeing intervention in prison. Until recently, no systematic research had been undertaken in Australia to assess the effectiveness of a yoga program, or consider the challenges of implementation. In 2017, the authors, in partnership with Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Corrective Services and the Yoga Foundation, introduced a pilot yoga program at the Alexander Maconochie Centre in the ACT. This paper draws on comments from the prisoners who participated in the program and the yoga teacher, as well as the perspectives of a prison psychologist and the lead author, both of whom also participated in the program. The paper reflects on the lessons learnt from developing and delivering a prison yoga program and advocates for the expansion of such programs in Australian prisons.

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Published: 2019-11-04
Pages:47 to 61
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How to Cite
Hopkins, A., Bartels, L. and Oxman, L. (2019) “Lessons in Flexibility: Introducing a Yoga Program in an Australian Prison”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 8(4), pp. 47-61. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v8i4.1046.

Author Biographies

Australian National University

Dr Anthony Hopkins is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Clinical and Internship Courses at the Australian National University Law School. He is also a practicing criminal defence barrister.

Anthony began his career as a criminal defence lawyer in Alice Springs at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. He continues to practice as a barrister with a focus on sentencing and appellate criminal cases.

Anthony's research, and his work in legal policy, is focused on reforms to the criminal justice system that promote equality and reduce incarceration. He has a particular focus on the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the criminal justice system.

Most recently, Anthony's research has explored the links between equality and compassion, where compassion is understood as the foundation that enables turning towards those who are caught in the criminal justice system. This research is supported and influenced by his continuing mindfulness meditation practice.

Australian National University

Lorana Bartels holds Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws and Master of Laws degrees from the University of NSW and a PhD from the University of Tasmania. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education. Lorana is admitted to practice as a solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW.

Lorana is currently Professor of Criminology in the Centre for Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University. She was previously Head of the School of Law and Justice at the University of Canberra. She has also held research and policy positions at the Family Court of Australia, the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the NSW Attorney-General’s Office, the NSW Public Defenders Office and the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Lorana is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and University of Tasmania and Life Member of Clare Hall at the University of Cambridge. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and a member of the editorial boards of the Alternative Law Journal; Criminal Law Journal; International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology; and SAGE Handbook of Domestic Violence.

Lorana publishes widely on a range of criminal justice issues, especially sentencing and corrections, and the treatment of Indigenous people and women in the criminal justice system.

Australian National University

Clinical Psychologist/Clinical Supervisor, Australian National University