If your August edition of the Californian Journal of Health Promotion has gotten buried on your coffee table, as I know it does, then you missed an article about how prison yoga is making incarcerated fathers into better parents. Because duh. And double duh that this came from a Californian scholarly journal.
The Washington State University study was done at the local Chelan County Regional Jail in Wenatchee. Fourteen groups of security-screened, volunteer inmates were monitored over a course of 3 years in a program called “Fit Fathers, Successful Families, Inside and Out”. The inmates were found through internal prison advertising and were required to be fathers of young children.
Lead researcher Jennifer Crawford noted that the yoga classes were modeled after, and carried out like normal, non-prison yoga. Except, of course, that the yoga instructors can’t touch the inmates, there are security guards present, and every now and then, when someone farts, a pack of cigarettes falls out of their pant leg.
Each session consisted of one hour of parenting class, then one hour of yoga class. Inmates were pre-tested and post-tested on their resiliency and and measured on established parenting class scales: the Self Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003), Distress Tolerance Scale (Simons and Gaher, 2005), and Whole Person Survey (Crawford, unpublished). Inmates ended up scoring higher in post-tests than pre-tests.
According to the study text: “These results indicate that they reported significant changes in their ability to treat themselves kindly, feel more connected to the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of themselves, and demonstrate knowledge of positive parenting practices.”
If you’re the sciencey type, you’re asking “but was there a control group?” No, no there wasn’t. So there’s that.
Will yoga make you a better father? It’s possible. Especially if you’re in prison, which, big shout out to our incarcerated 8BitDad readers. We personally don’t think you did it, whatever it was that landed you in there