Congratulations to our five newest yoga training graduates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW): (from left to right) Candice, Elisa, Michelle, Marriam, and Alyssa! We are SO proud of these amazing women and so excited to see where the seat of the teacher will lead them.

From Laura Prudhomme, our lead trainer behind bars:

“Inquiry is a powerful and empowering gift, one that cannot be given, but that arises from within. The WCCW teacher training cohort spent seven months being asked to delve into the deep questions of practice and chose, for themselves, to swim in the even deeper waters of their own hearts and minds. When I think about what they accomplished in such a short span of time, I am overwhelmed with pride. When I think about their achievement in the midst of an experience designed to weaken their spirits, I am in awe.”

The graduation was beautiful, emotional, and simultaneously filled with joy. The Superintendent of WCCW spoke about her own practice, and what she believes the program can do for the women living there. The Assistant Superintendent spoke to the personal changes she’s seen in these women since the training began. During her speech our Executive Director Rosa said “when you’re in prison, you hear doors open and close every day. This training opens a different kind of door.” These women are so committed to opening doors, not just for themselves, but for the other women in the prison as well, and for their families. We firmly believe that by opening new opportunities and providing incarcerated people with more tools to combat trauma, we can change the system, and ultimately help stop the cycle of mass incarceration that plagues our communities.

These 5 teachers are now trained in trauma-informed yoga, and once their mentoring is completed, are hoping to teach pre-natal and evening classes at WCCW, which has a special nursery program in which women who are accepted are able to stay with their babies for an extended period of time after delivery. They will soon begin a rigorous mentorship process with several of our current WCCW teachers and guest trainers: Patti, Vanessa, Sarah, Jodi, Sandie, Rainey and Patanjali, and are hoping to begin co-teaching in October. We are so excited to have these five amazing women join our teaching team, providing unique expertise and knowledge about the prison system that can only be learned by experience.

Stay tuned for a short film from the amazing SOULCRAFTallstars focusing on our trainee Marriam and her story.

Photo credit: Brandon Sawaya of Brandon Sawaya Photography and SOULCRAFTallstars