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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Yoga helping to bring 'harmony' to Dubai prisons

International initiative aims to help physical and mental wellbeing of inmates

Yoga classes, such as this session held in Argentina, are proving a success in Dubai.
Yoga classes, such as this session held in Argentina, are proving a success in Dubai.

An international initiative offering yoga to Dubai prisoners is providing vital respite from a life behind bars - and helping to cut down inmate violence.

The Prison Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training (Prison Smart) programme is helping hundreds of people serving time in the emirate to "maintain a sense of harmony" and get on better with one another, according to organisers.

The project - which includes yoga and breathing techniques - is operated by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) and has been adopted by the Dubai Government's Community Development Authority.

It has been used by 700,000 prisoners in 60 countries, with the aim of ending cycles of violence, aiding rehabilitation and improving the mental and physical wellbeing of inmates.

IAHV, which oversees social and economic development projects across the globe, aims to involve 200 prisoners in the project by the end of this year with this number rising to 1,000 in 2019

“Inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help,” said Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of IAHV.

“It is stress, lack of broad vision about life, lack of understanding, and bad communication that leads to violence in society.”

“We have received great feedback from prisoners who have attended the Prison Smart programme,” said Sausan Mahmood, a specialist social worker at the Community Development Authority

“There is a significant change in attitudes of the inmates, especially those with longer sentences such as life imprisonment. There is a perceptible decrease in instances of violence and fighting and they have become more organized and responsible.

“With people from so many different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds under the same roof, yoga and other breathing exercises help them to get along, maintain a sense of harmony and be nicer to one another.”

Participants have reported a decrease in depression, anxiety and interpersonal conflict, in addition to clarity in thinking, increased alertness and resilience to daily life stresses, as well as improved immunity and physical wellbeing, the IAHV said.

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Read more:

Inside Dubai Female Prison: nursery offers a brighter future to inmate mothers and children

Needs of parents in Dubai prison focus of visit

Life behind bars: What is jail like for women in Dubai?

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