OUR MISSION

We share yoga and meditation with incarcerated people to promote rehabilitation, personal transformation, and a more just society for all.

VISION

VALUES

STAFF & BOARD

HISTORY

OUR VISION

We’re Reimagining The Criminal Justice System

We envision a world where all communities are healthy and thriving, where all people feel safe, connected, and valued. Through our programs, we open doors to self-understanding, resilience, and transformation. We advocate for restorative justice solutions, holistic re-entry services, and the removal of other barriers that prevent formerly incarcerated people to rebuild their lives upon release. We work with the WA State corrections leadership to create opportunities within the system, including yoga classes for prison staff and yoga teacher trainings for incarcerated people.

OUR VALUES

We live these values on and off the mat, behind bars and behind desks

Integrity

We act with honesty and transparency.


Love

We believe in love as the most powerful and affirming force for change, love wins.


Excellence

We are committed to be the best we can be. We learn, grow, and evolve.


Social Justice

We believe each of us has the capacity to change the world if given the resources to do so.

We embody and practice antiracist values as an organization and leverage our resources and networks to promote these values.


Community

We are dedicated to building thriving and diverse communities. We work together.

See Our Progress

See What Others Say

OUR STAFF

We’re Reimagining The Criminal Justice System

Rosa Vissers

Rosa Vissers

Executive Director

Amara Oden

Amara Oden

Development Director

Jess Frank

Jess Frank

Program Director

Ximena Narvaja

Ximena Narvaja

Operations Director

Alyssa Pizarro

Alyssa Pizarro

Development Coordinator

Claire Smith

Claire Smith

MSW Intern 2017-18

Iris Wagner

Iris Wagner

UCBI Intern 2018

OUR BOARD

Nicole Tsong

Nicole Tsong

Board President

Erin Stuckey

Erin Stuckey

Board Member

Matt Rowe

Matt Rowe

Board Member

Julian Saucier

Julian Saucier

Vice President

Jeanne Marie Isola

Jeanne Marie Isola

Board Member

Vanessa McClure

Vanessa McClure

Board Member

Liz Van Hoy

Liz Van Hoy

Board Secretary

Johnna White

Johnna White

Board Member

Elizabeth Poh

Elizabeth Poh

Board Member

Cedra DuFlon-Heide

Cedra DuFlon-Heide

Board Treasurer

Katherine Axt

Katherine Axt

Board Member

Holly Brauchli

Holly Brauchli

Board Member

TRAUMA-INFORMED TRAINING GUEST FACULTY

Laura Prudhomme

Laura Prudhomme

Lead Trainer

Natalie Cielle

Natalie Cielle

Guest Faculty

OUR INSTRUCTORS

HISTORY

We’re Reimagining The Criminal Justice System

In 2003, fresh out of yoga teacher training, Shaina Traisman met a former inmate at an activist camp. She was deeply moved by the man’s story of his many years in prison, and decided to put her yoga training to work in prisons, starting in Seattle’s downtown jail. The more she volunteered, the more clearly she witnessed the powerful effects of yoga on the lives of her students. There was a much greater demand for classes than she could meet by herself. One of the first instructors to step forward to help was Natalie Cielle. Together, Shaina and Natalie reached out to more volunteers and expanded classes to include more prisons and youth detention centers… and in 2008 Yoga Behind Bars was born.

2004

  • Shaina Traisman starts first class at Seattle downtown jail.

2006

  • Shaina starts working towards gaining 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for YBB.

2007

  • Shaina Traisman, Founder, and Natalie Cielle, Co-Founder team up.
  • We begin offering classes at the King County Juvenile Detention Center in Seattle.
  • We host our first Teacher Training class.

2008

  • YBB gains 501(c)3 status!
  • We reach 1,000 students.
  • YBB starts new programs at:
    • Monroe Correctional Complex—Special Offenders Unit,
    • Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie, and
    • Washington Corrections Center for Women (Purdy) in Gig Harbor. 

2009

  • YBB hires Natalie Cielle as part-time Program Director as the first paid staff.

2010

  • 35 people attend YBB’s Teacher Training.
  • Natalie Cielle becomes YBB’s Executive Director.

2011

  • We receive a 3-year capacity building grant from the RiverStyx Foundation.
  • YBB starts a new program at Monroe Correctional Complex Minimum Security Unit.
  • YBB’s program at Echo Glen doubles in size to 8-9 classes a week, and now counts toward mental health treatment credits.
  • We reach 2,000 students.

2012

  • Debut of YBB’s first Eat, Drink, Give benefit event hosted by Sutra Yoga & Wellness!
  • YBB’s Teacher Training expands from one day to two days long.
  • We reach 2,500 students

2013

  • We win a Seattle Met Magazine Light-a-Fire Award.
  • YBB starts new programs at:
    • Denney Juvenile Justice Center in Everett where the classes are part of PE curriculum.
    • Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair
  • YBB launches a meditation program in solitary confinement at Monroe Correctional Complex – the first of its kind in the country.*
  • We reach 2,900 students

2014

  • YBB starts a new program at:
    • Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen
  • Rosa Vissers becomes YBB’s second Executive Director.
  • Rosa presents at TEDx Monroe.
  • YBB is 1 of 10 finalists for the prestigious Washington Women’s Foundation capacity building grant.
  • More than 200 people have graduated from YBB’s 2-day Teacher Training program.
  • We reach 3,500 students

2015

  • YBB launches Teacher Training Behind Bars, the first of its kind in the nation, at Stafford Creek, with ten incarcerated students graduating in February of 2016
  • YBB starts new programs at:
    • Clallam Bay Corrections Center, Clallam Bay
    • Remann Hall, juvenile detention in Tacoma
    • Federal Detention Center, SeaTac
  • YBB wins Seattle Yoga News “Yoga Organization of the Year” award
  • We reach 4,100 students
  • We offer our first college accredited yoga class at the Washington Correction Center for Women, in partnership with FEPPS.
  • YBB offers its first out-of-state teacher training in Portland, Maine

2016

  • We launch our second Teacher Training Behind Bars, at Washington Corrections Center for Women, with 14 women expected to graduate in April 2017
  • YBB wins the OOMPH! Award by States of Matter
  • YBB starts new programs at:
    • Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla
    • Maleng Regional Justice Center, Kent
    • Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, Connell
    • Airway Heights Corrections Center, Airway Heights
  • Our programs are featured in Seattle Weekly and Tacoma News Tribune
  • We start our first classes for prison staff at Washington State Corrections CenterMore than 300 people have graduated from YBB’s 2-day Trauma-Informed Teacher Training program
  • YBB’s Board President, Nicole Tsong, wins Social Venture Partners’ FastPitch competition on behalf of Yoga Behind Bars

2017

  • 5 women at Washington Corrections Center for Women graduate from YBBs 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training.
  • YBB expands to serve 18 facilities
  • Rosa, YBBs Executive Director, is a contributing editor to the Yoga Service Council book Best Practices for Yoga in the Criminal Justice System
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