YOGA ON THE INSIDE.
Accessible yoga for prisoners.
Guest post from Grant Stockwell at Sarina Russo.
A prison cell and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may not sound like the perfect healing environment for anybody to overcome grief, but a Brisbane yoga teacher is taking a different slant. Sonia Brown-Diaz has turned the devastating loss of her still-born twins 15 years ago into a new business model that is helping inmates turn their lives around through yoga.
“I started practising yoga about three years after the loss of my sons in 2003 but I wasn’t diagnosed with PTSD until about three years ago,” Sonia said.
“Yoga started reuniting me back with my body, which made sense to me because a big symptom of PTSD is disassociating with your body. In 2018 I went to the Byron Yoga Centre and undertook my 200-hour yoga teacher training and it was there I started to appreciate further the connection with body, mind and breath; and the benefits this has on a person’s overall wellbeing,” explains Sonia.
“Then I went to Brixton in the UK, where they were running specific training for yoga teachers wanting to work in a prison environment and what I saw there, and the findings, reinforced that this was something I really wanted to do.”
Sonia took the next step to launching Yoga on the inside when she commenced the New Business Assistance with NEIS program at Sarina Russo Entrepreneurs where she was mentored by Business Solutions Coach Sandra Gartner.
“Yoga On The Inside’s focus is to provide individual or group yoga classes to people who are experiencing, or have experienced, significant difficulties in their lives; by providing another avenue or method,” Sonia said.
Extremely impressed with the drive and passion Sonia had displayed in pursuing her dream, Sandra wasted no time in signing off on the NEIS application.
“Sonia is totally committed to her business as she has personally experienced the benefits of Yoga in transforming lives,” Sandra explains.
“She is willing to ‘dig deep’ when things get tough in building her business as she knows from overseas research the positive impact these programs can have. She’s reaching out to other community minded organisations and has secured the donation of yoga mats for female prisoners she’s currently working with. I fully believe Sonia is blazing a trail for similar success here in Australia.”