5 episodes

Prison Yoga Project seeks a cultural shift toward a healing-centered approach to addressing crime, addiction, and mental illness. We honor the human dignity of all people impacted by punitive incarceration by offering trauma-informed yoga and embodied mindfulness to heal trauma and cultivate resilience.

Prison Yoga Project Podcast stands at the cross-section of social justice, education, activism, and yoga. We host interviews with yoga facilitators, addiction counselors, mental health professionals, neuroanatomists, formerly incarcerated people, correctional officers, wardens, judges, lawyers, professors, and more. As we continue to shine a light on all parts of our society that lurk in the shadows, we become aware of where we are complicit.

You can donate to Prison Yoga Project here:
https://prisonyoga.kindful.com

You can train with Prison Yoga Project here: https://community.prisonyoga.org/training-programs/

Prison Yoga Project Podcast Prison Yoga Poject

    • Society & Culture

Prison Yoga Project seeks a cultural shift toward a healing-centered approach to addressing crime, addiction, and mental illness. We honor the human dignity of all people impacted by punitive incarceration by offering trauma-informed yoga and embodied mindfulness to heal trauma and cultivate resilience.

Prison Yoga Project Podcast stands at the cross-section of social justice, education, activism, and yoga. We host interviews with yoga facilitators, addiction counselors, mental health professionals, neuroanatomists, formerly incarcerated people, correctional officers, wardens, judges, lawyers, professors, and more. As we continue to shine a light on all parts of our society that lurk in the shadows, we become aware of where we are complicit.

You can donate to Prison Yoga Project here:
https://prisonyoga.kindful.com

You can train with Prison Yoga Project here: https://community.prisonyoga.org/training-programs/

    Living Your Yoga with Judge Victor Reyes

    Living Your Yoga with Judge Victor Reyes

    We're throwing it back today to June 2021 because this episode needs to be heard. In this episode, you will witness moving stories about the life and work of Retired Judge Victor Reyes, a Prison Yoga Project facilitator.
    Retired Judge Victor Reyes spent most of his legal career working in the Colorado Criminal Justice System, first as a public defender and then 15 years as a judge for the 10th Judicial District in Southern Colorado. In that time, he developed a deep understanding of the people he defended and whose cases came before him. In 2015, he retired from the bench but soon would be working within the criminal justice system again, this time as a yoga and meditation teacher.
    Victor was introduced to the spiritual and yogic practices that would "change the course of his life" in 2012. Seeing the benefits of the practices in his personal life, after Victor retired from the bench, he contacted the Youth Offender System (YOS) management in La Vista, Colorado. The young men sentenced to this facility were usually convicted of violent felonies. It was the last opportunity for the youth before the system would transfer them to the general population. It felt like the right place to try to make a difference. 
    Shortly after he began working with the youth, he was asked to provide practices for adults at the La Vista Correctional Facility. Around this time, he also started work with groups of survivors of domestic violence. 
    In 2018, Victor began leading yoga practices at the minimum security camp at the Federal Correctional facility in Florence, Colorado. Shortly after, he was asked to bring mediation classes to the USP ADMAX-Florence facility, one of the highest security correctional facilities in the US. 
    He has provided training locally, nationally, and internationally on issues related to domestic violence since 2002 and personal wellness since 2016. He also facilitates groups for elementary-age children residing in underfunded Pueblo communities.
    Thank you for being here to witness Judge Reyes's stories. His life is a true testament to living your yoga.
    Bill Brown, the Executive Director of Prison Yoga Project, hosts this conversation.
    Bill Brown, C-IAYT, is the Executive Director of Prison Yoga Project (PYP), a non-profit organization that supports incarcerated people worldwide with trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness programs. Through his work with PYP, he hopes to promote social change, transforming our systems and culture to create a more inclusive, equitable, and just world. Bill began working with PYP in 2013 and had served in Federal, State, and County facilities. In 2016 he began offering training with PYP in trauma-informed yoga for incarcerated people and assumed the Executive Director’s role in 2018. He is a contributing editor to the Yoga Service Council/Omega Institute’s book “Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System.” In his downtime, Bill enjoys the creative outlets of photography and cooking and is an avid reader of science fiction.
    Blaire Embrey, our Communications Manager, joins in for the Question and Answer period. 

    • 1 hr 52 min
    Youth, Addiction, and Cultivating Emotional Safety with Dr. Sam Himelstein

    Youth, Addiction, and Cultivating Emotional Safety with Dr. Sam Himelstein

    Title: Youth, Addiction, and Cultivating Emotional Safety
    Featured Guest: Dr. Sam Himelstein
    Host: Blaire Embrey
    Recorded on: 1/13/2023
    In this first episode of our 2023 season, Dr. Sam Himelstein starts by sharing his mindfulness journey, being incarcerated on and off as a youth, and the root of addiction. From here, we flow into a potent conversation, sharing the impact of working at the local level of our justice system and practical tools for showing up in a place of leadership that will cultivate the foundation for building emotional safety in your professional relationships. 

    Dr. Sam Himelstein is a Psychologist in California. He works with high-risk and marginalized youth in the juvenile justice system, foster care system, and those suffering from addiction issues. He worked at the Chemical Dependency program at Kaiser Permanente with teens and their families in several juvenile halls conducting psychotherapy, psychological evaluations, and researching the benefit of mindfulness-based interventions with incarcerated and underserved youth populations. He is the founder and president of the Center for Adolescent Studies. https://centerforadolescentstudies.com/
    Dr. Sam Himelstein is passionate about training professionals from multiple disciplines to create authentic, healing relationships with adolescents that contribute to positive outcomes. 
    Dr. Himselstein is a formerly incarcerated youth himself and shares that he feels privileged to change his life from a path of drugs, violence, crime, and self-destruction to that of healing and transformation. His mission is to help young people become aware of the power of self-awareness and transformation and train professionals with similar interests. 

    Your host Blaire Embrey (RYT 500) is the Communications Manager for Prison Yoga Project and the producer of Prison Yoga Project Podcast. She is a student of Tibetan Buddhism, Post-Lineage Yoga, and Peruvian Mountain Shamanism; she is pulled towards the profound mystery of existence, cultivating compassion for all beings, and holding space. 

    • 1 hr 24 min
    Life after Death: Buddhist Sangha on Death Row with Tibetan Buddhist Chaplain Susan Shannon

    Life after Death: Buddhist Sangha on Death Row with Tibetan Buddhist Chaplain Susan Shannon

    Susan Shannon, the Buddhist Chaplin practicing on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison, joins us to share stories of devotion and dedication from her long-time students and Sangha on death row. We will be learning practices for energetic protection, becoming aware of intergenerational trauma, and practicing boundaries while still meeting individual and collective needs. We are honored to witness and be in conversation with Susan!
    Susan Shannon, M. Div., BCC is a seeker, teacher, earth and animal steward, devotee of the heart. She has worked in the fields of Emotional Literacy and Restorative Justice for over 20 years, incorporating over 45 years of Buddhist practice and study from the Tibetan tradition, having been blessed to have studied under many of Tibet’s greatest scholars of these times. She’s worked with various diverse populations all her life including inmates, Tibetan refugees, the homeless, the differently-abled, at-risk youth, and most recently, Buddhist Chaplain to the men in San Quentin State Prison and Death Row. She currently teaches about spiritual care and chaplaincy through the Pacific Institute, as well as classes on Tibetan Buddhism through Sukhasiddhi Foundation, The Chaplaincy Institute of Interfaith Studies and various other Dharma Centers. Susan is the founder of the Buddhist Prison Ministry, providing correspondence classes to prison populations across the US. She resides in the San Juan Islands where she writes, provides spiritual coaching and cares for the sacred ground she shares with many sentient beings!  

    Your host Blaire Embrey (RYT 500) is the Communications Manager for Prison Yoga Project and the producer of Prison Yoga Project Podcast. She is a student of Tibetan Buddhism, Post-Lineage Yoga, and Peruvian Mountain Shamanism; she is pulled towards the profound mystery of existence, cultivating compassion for all beings, and holding space. 

    • 1 hr 35 min
    The Leap of Beginning with Kristin Varner

    The Leap of Beginning with Kristin Varner

    The Leap of Beginning with Kristin VarnerFeatured Guest Kristin Varner
    Host Blaire Embrey
    Recorded on 9/24/21

    In this episode, we speak with Kristin Varner, yoga facilitator and lawyer, about the unpredictability of facilitating in a post-pandemic world and how our personal practice supports all aspects of our lives and facilitation. If you’re looking to become a facilitator or offer programming in incarcerated settings, this is a must-listen interview. 

    Personal Statement: Kristin loves yoga and loves sharing what she loves. After practicing yoga and law for two decades, she combined her passion for yoga and advocacy to co-found Community Yoga Initiative to help expand the reach of yoga through affordable, accessible, and inclusive yoga outreach programs. The heart of her yoga practice rests in the cultivation of awareness and love to discover and let go of ways of being that limit freedom. Embodied presence and energetic perception are central to Kristin’s sharing of yoga. 
    Through the Prison Yoga Project, Kristin shares yoga with people housed at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, California. She leads yoga and meditation programs for youth, college athletes, non-profit organizations, and workplaces in Southern California and currently instructs yoga for the United States Men’s Olympic Water Polo Team. 

    Your host Blaire Embrey (RYT 500) is the Community Engagement Manager for Prison Yoga Project and the producer of Prison Yoga Project Podcast. She is a student of Tibetan Buddhism, Post-Lineage Yoga, and Peruvian Mountain Shamanism; she is pulled towards the profound mystery of existence, cultivating compassion for all beings, and holding space.

    Thank you, Priscilla Castro for editing and post-production!

    • 1 hr 40 min
    Skill in Action: Radicalizing your Yoga Practice with Michelle Cassandra Johnson

    Skill in Action: Radicalizing your Yoga Practice with Michelle Cassandra Johnson

    Collective liberation is at the heart of Michelle Cassandra Johnson’s work and our work at Prison Yoga Project. We explore what it means to be a leader as facilitators of yoga, living by moral codes offered to us through the yamas and niyamas and leaning into truth and discomfort while allowing resistance and love to be our teachers. Please join us as we host this incredible guest!
    Michelle Cassandra Johnson is an activist, social justice warrior, author, anti-racism consultant and trainer, intuitive healer, and yoga teacher and practitioner. She has led dismantling racism work in many settings for over two decades and has a background and two decades of practice as a clinical social worker. Michelle’s work centers on healing from individual and collective trauma, coming back into wholeness, and aligning the mind, body, spirit, and heart. 
    You can donate to Prison Yoga Project here: https://prisonyoga.kindful.com
    You can train with Prison Yoga Project here: https://community.prisonyoga.org/training-programs/
    You can find other episodes on our community website: https://community.prisonyoga.org/webinar-replays/

    • 1 hr 22 min

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