Prison SMART – Stress Management and Resocialization Training


Prison SMART Training makes a valuable contribution to successful rehabilitation and a more humane prison environment and is an effective stress management program based on breathing techniques. These powerful breathing techniques reduce stress in the organism. They are a personality strengthening instrument that transforms negative and overwhelming emotions and promotes balance and awareness. The program offers imprisoned people the opportunity to learn to deal more constructively with feelings such as fear, guilt, despair or revenge. Feelings such as anger, aggression or frustration being transformed make room for a more positive state of mind. Prison SMART provides a basis for a better way of dealing with oneself. It strengthens self-confidence and reduces the intake of addictive substances. The prisoners and prison staff learn the skills needed to deal successfully with future conflicts and stressful situations. Prison SMART Training creates a framework in which prisoners are more aware of the consequences of their actions and take responsibility for their own actions. In addition, participants learn to look for problems within themselves rather than outside themselves. This makes it possible to break the cycle of violence. The effective contribution of the training to a more humane prison climate depends on the participation of as many people as possible who are directly or indirectly involved in the prison system. Training the staff as well as the prisoners can have a strong synergetic effect. Prison SMART is a valuable component in the rehabilitation and prevention of the prison system.


Quotes from participants

“Detention makes you suspicious, it can make you stressed, nervous, lonely, sad and aggressive.

The detainee hardly has a place of retreat. All the more beautiful is the offer from Prison

SMART. It is very rare to experience and feel something like this together in this place.

Here this was the case!”
(Prisoner’s newspaper “Der Lichtblick”, JVA Tegel, issue 3/2018, p.64).


“I liked the course very much and I am full of satisfaction to have participated. I really got a glimpse

into another world and now know to appreciate life, even the breathing. The course helps because

you get a different point of view, even a healthy way of thinking and a very clear and healthy attitude for life.”

(Prisoner, lifetime sentence, JVA Tegel) JVA = correctional facility


“I liked the course very much. It was a distraction from everyday life in prison and I was able to

physically relax. Although very exhausting for me. I also have more inner peace.”
(Prisoner, lifetime sentence, JVA Tegel) JVA = correctional facility


“I have a wide range of responsibilities and the job requires a lot of commitment. And that often degenerates into stress.
Already only doing the laryngeal breathing, I enjoy a lot. You’re fresher. Recharged for the next hours.

I can recommend this course to every employee and am convinced of its efficiency – no matter what others think of it beforehand, whether they think it’s good or they think they don’t need it. Everybody has to make the experience in the
course themselves and they’ll find out it’s great.”
(Senior Correctional Officer, JVA Aichach)


The Science of Breath

The breathing techniques – the Sudarshan Kriya, abbreviated SKY®-Technique and three other components (pranayamas) – have been the subject of 60 independent studies worldwide and five studies in prisons. Some of the results are as follows:

  • Stress reduction
  • Decrease of depression
  • Improved mental focus
  • Improvement of sleep quality
  • Reduction of anxiety and general anxiety disorders

For more information: under “Research”

Experiences, Competences, References

Prison SMART Training has served more than 700,000 prison inmates and prison staff in more than 60 countries worldwide with the support of the respective ministries of justice in many places, e.g. Denmark, the Balkan states, Great Britain, Germany, the USA, India, South Africa, Mexico, Namibia, Kenya, Dubai, Australia or Russia. In Germany, Prison SMART Trainings have been held regularly at the Aichach Prison since 2003 and at the Tegel Prison in Berlin since 2018. In addition, training courses were held in the prisons of Bruchsal and Ulm. The efficiency of the Prison SMART training was also recognised by the Danish legal system. Courts send young offenders to the Prison SMART Youth Programme and no longer to juvenile prisons. A Danish prison officer noted that Prison SMART reduced the number of threats and violent acts against prison staff. In Kosovo, Prison SMART training in all prisons is supported by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice in Croatia has requested Prison SMART for all prison officers.


Prison SMART Training

The training consists of 5 – 7 sessions of 2.5 hours each on 5 – 7 consecutive course days. If these timings are not possible for organizational reasons in a correctional facility, the situation will be identified in a preliminary discussion and individual appointments will be offered which are tailored to the needs of the respective correctional facility.


In order to ensure sustainability, participants learn a smaller version of the SKY® breathing exercises, which they can continue to practice on their own. In addition, regular follow-up sessions of 2.5 hours each are offered in which participants can practice the exercises they have learned together and exchange ideas. The number of follow-up sessions depends on the situation of the correctional facility (1 – 4 x per month).

Articles in the Lichtblick newspaper, Prison SMART in the correctional facility (JVA) Tegel, Berlin
(German language) page 18 page 64


Anke Aust                                   Marie-Christine Heuell    

+49 (0)176 / 96 97 49 67            +49 (0)176 / 54 64 76 12