In Rome, officials at the Velletri jail say they will soon admit Sahaja Yoga instructors into the prison to teach the prisoners, in hopes of providing inmates with greater mental and physical stability.
The power of yoga could stretch to the reform of criminal personalities, or so a prison in Velletri near Rome is hoping.
The Velletri jail will soon be offering yoga classes to its inmates in a year-long experiment aimed at helping the prisoners find inner peace and aiding their social rehabilitation.
"We think these classes will help the prisoners' social, psychological and spiritual recovery," a local government official responsible for prisoners' rights, Angiolo Marroni, told ANSA.
"If the prisoner can attain a sense of inner harmony, serenity and peace, as well as greater self-knowledge, then social reintegration after jail can only be easier," he said.
The courses will be given by experts in a popular method of meditation known as Sahaja Yoga, which was founded in India 35 years ago.
The prisoners will be taught by volunteers belonging to the worldwide non-profit organisation Sahaja Yoga International, also known as Vishwa Nirmale Dharma.
Marroni stressed that the inmates would not be forced to attend the classes but he said he was confident that many would be interested in the offer.
Yoga, which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, is taught in many prisons around the world.
According to yoga associations, some 100,000 prisoners in 15 countries currently take part in such classes.
Earlier this year, a prison in Norway suspended its yoga lessons saying that the deep breathing exercises made prisoners more aggressive rather than calmer.
The high-security Ringerike jail near Oslo said prisoners
were more irritable and agitated after their classes and subsequently had difficulty in sleeping.
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