Breaking shackles with Yoga Education In Prisons Trust

When Petra and I first went about setting up our studio, we sat in our little flat in Prague thinking up what our dream clients would be like once we got back to New Zealand. We envisioned small groups of dedicated people, working at a grassroots level to bring positive changes in their communities. Perhaps not people with the biggest budgets, but definitely people with a big amount of courage and heart. Cynics would say we were dreaming, thinking that we could search out and work with only people like this, but we remained resolutely optimistic and set ourselves on the path with our mission statement: Good creative for good people doing good things. 

We had created this lofty vision, and now back on NZ soil, we knew it was time to put it into action, this is where we came across one of our first clients the Yoga Education in Prisons Trust. As a client they couldn’t have fit in with our values any better. We were instant believers in the vision, we were in. Just like it says on the tin, the Yoga Education in Prisons Trust, is all about providing yoga and meditation to prisoners all over New Zealand. These incredible yoga teachers go into New Zealand prisons to work with the inmates to help them deal with the unique environmental challenges of their day to day life and help them make big steps on their path to rehabilitation.

Like us, the trust also have their own motto: Hurt people hurt people, but healed people heal people, a simple but profound belief that was exemplified to us intensely with an interview they had conducted with a reformed inmate. In the interview, Dylan (the ex-inmate) had completely turned his life around gaining insight, mindfulness and mana from his work with the trust’s teachers.

In the interview Dylan describes how he came up in a violent, unstable environment, as a young man he saw respect only through the lens of physical dominance and an escape from poverty only through crime. In prison he found out about the Yoga In Prisons workshop and joined up primarily for the physicality of the yoga sessions. In his words he was surprised to find that the practice reconnected him with his body and helped him centre and calm himself, mending his trauma and giving him tools for reflection on the past and mindfulness of his actions and their future consequences. 

(Here is the link to the video, it is only 7 minutes and it’s truly an inspiring watch!)

The trust contacted us in regards to help with designing material for and implementing their latest charity drive GoFundMe Help from Home campaign. We were tasked with bringing their great work to the forefront. We created the overall design of the campaign – the key visual used for posters to go up in yoga studios all over New Zealand, all social media visuals and other online visuals. We updated their website, connecting everything to the donation campaign. We also edited down their interview with Dylan into smaller digestible chunks for social media.


Now, nearly two months after the campaign, it is messages like these that still make our hearts skip a beat:

“I would like to thank you for the incredible work you do. I wish I could convey properly to you the impact you have on wāhine in prison. You are truly changing lives and the wāhine studying the programme are so grateful to you.” – a staff member at one of the prisons

Compared with the great work they do, our input was small, but it meant a lot to us to be able to put our skills into helping them get the word out and increasing the awareness of their campaign. We highly recommend you check them out for yourselves and look forward to continuing the mahi with them going into the future!


(words by Garth)

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