An ancient spiritual practice is helping rehabilitate men and women at the Santa Barbara County Jail. Prison Yoga Santa Barbara (PYSB) invites inmates to practice yoga, meditation and mindfulness during incarceration at no cost to taxpayers.
Ginny Kuhn is the force behind the non-profit staffed by volunteers. The program is modeled after The Prison Yoga Project which was started yogi James Fox at California’s San Quentin State Prison 15 years ago.
Kuhn's motto for PYSB is 'Working Freedom from the Inside'.
"I just wanted to touch an underserved population," Kuhn said. "I went to teach a class and I was blown away at how receptive and appreciative the women were."
A female inmate said, "It gets me out of my head, you know like, I get peace and comfort, especially being in here. "Yoga really does help me. It just settles, my mind, my body, my soul."
Studies show a majority of people incarcerated are dealing with unresolved trauma which leads to impulsive and reactive behaviors, drug and alcohol abuse.
Kuhn said empirical data shows yoga and meditation are effective in reducing anxiety, stress, violence and depression.
Kuhn and volunteer Mike Lewis also teach classes to male inmates.
"There really is no separation. We're the same," Lewis said. We're both human beings. Just like I am deserving of serenity and peace of mind, so is he."