Practicing yoga, which improves physical and mental health, may also help men become better fathers, suggests new research.
The three-year study with 14 different groups of male inmates took place at Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee, Washington.
The programme was advertised among the jail population. Volunteers, who were parents of young children and passed a security screening, were recruited.
“We would have a class on a specific topic, like child development or setting limits,” said researcher Jennifer Crawford from Washington State University.
“That would last about an hour, then a yoga instructor would come in and give a guided yoga class,” Crawford noted.
The results showed that inmates demonstrated a sense of awareness and an acceptance of their vulnerability and responsiveness with children.
The instructor started every class with a centering exercise, then taught simple sequences that focused on standing poses; advanced poses were not used due to potential health issues among the inmates.
Outside of the class setting, inmates were asked to partake in various exercises such as writing about their upbringing or ways they communicate with their children.
“Yoga can be physically demanding, and the initial responses we got from the participants confirmed that,” Crawford said.
“I believe the yoga practice helped participants become ready to learn and increased their willingness to try new ideas, absorb new information and begin to apply these in their lives,” Crawford noted.