Dissertation Title:

Serving Life: A Qualitative Study of the Perceived Effects of Yoga on Incarcerated Men


Chanda L. Williams

Date, Time & Place:

July 18, 2023 at 11:00 am


Research indicates an association between trauma and the perpetration of crime. Many incarcerated people have experienced trauma at some point in their lifetime, prior to incarceration. Yoga therapy is an integrative healthcare practice found to be effective in treating the effects of trauma while improving interoceptive awareness and overall well-being. Although studies on long-term yoga practice demonstrate a sustained positive impact, they neglect to include its effects on underrepresented and underserved populations. Prison Yoga Project provides a trauma-informed yoga therapy for incarcerated populations designed to mitigate the effects of trauma. This dissertation study explored, through 8 semi-structured qualitative interviews, the perceived long-term benefits of weekly trauma-informed, mindfulness-based yoga sessions on participants at San Quentin State Prison who have practiced longer than 2 years and have now returned to their communities. This unique exploratory study provides insight into the therapeutic effects of yoga that could be an integrative healthcare modality beneficial for reducing the effects of trauma in carceral settings.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Emphasis in Somatic Studies, S, 2017
  • Chair: Dr. Rae Johnson
  • Reader: Dr. Dara Ghahremani
  • External Reader: Dr. Beth Berila
  • Keywords: Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Mass, Incarceration, Social Justice, Health Disparities, Mind/body, Integrative Health, Mindfulness, Somatics