The Effects of Yoga & Meditation in a Prison Environment

Bial Foundation


Dr Amy Bilderbeck (University of Oxford) 

  • Dr Catherine Wikholm (University of Surrey)
  • Dr Inti Brazil (Donders Institute, Netherlands)

Dr Miguel Farias

Yoga and meditation have been shown to be effective in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety, and we reasoned that these techniques could have benefits for prisoners. We ran a study on 7 British prisons, where prisoners were randomly allocated to either a 10-week yoga programme or a control group. 

Yoga may be effective in improving subjective wellbeing, mental health, and executive functioning within prison populations. This is an important consideration given the consistently high rates of psychological morbidity in this group and the need for effective and economical intervention programmes.

This study led to an increase in the number of yoga classes in British prisons and was reported by the media, including:

For more information on Dr Farias' work into meditation, including his book The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? read our blog post The Dark Side of Meditation.

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