Freedom on the Inside (FOTI) is a partnership with the Learning Center at Red Willow. We provide one men’s class and two women’s classes weekly to inmates in the Missoula County Jail.
Freedom on the Inside began as a group of unpaid volunteers with the desire to share the benefits of yoga with incarcerated individuals in Missoula. Since 2016, Freedom on the Inside has been providing weekly yoga classes to male and female inmates at the Missoula County Detention Facility. In 2017, Freedom on the Inside partnered with the Red Willow Learning Center, and is currently also serving the juvenile population at the Missoula County Detention Facility.
Freedom on the Inside operates under the belief that each individual has value, and that incarceration can be rehabilitative. The focus is on the innate value of the individual, regardless of previous choices and experiences. We provide functional yoga instruction, involving the use of basic movement, physical postures and breath work, that can help release tension, provide pain relief, nurture greater focus and clarity, break detrimental patterns of behavior, and develop a greater sense of self-worth. Yoga teaches us that we have options, and options are empowering. Yoga also teaches us to maintain clarity and keen discernment, even in the midst of difficult or challenging circumstances, so that we can make good decisions, stay safe, and be more harmonious with our surroundings and communities. We hope that these skills help keep our students safe and healthy while they are in jail. We also help these skills help our students break the cycle of recidivism, and live healthy, productive lives upon release.
Freedom on the Inside is currently working toward our vision of providing yoga classes to our students once they are released from jail, so they can continue to use yoga as a resource to help them rebuild their lives. We seek to collaborate with organizations and yoga studios within the Missoula community to facilitate these classes.
Our Mission is to share the gifts of Yoga with incarcerated individuals. We provide functional Yoga instruction to students who are in the Missoula County Jail. Functional Yoga focuses on basic movements that release tension, provide pain relief, and, most importantly, connect students to their breath.
FOTI recognizes that incarcerated individuals are members of a traumatized population and that they may not have been previously exposed to self-regulating tools like connecting to one’s breath. We hope that Yoga empowers our students to connect with their inner resources. And we hope that Yoga helps our incarcerated students shed their shame and hold their heads high with dignity. Yoga teaches us that we have options — and options are empowering.
Our long-term vision is to use the jail program as an introduction to Yoga and extend the program so that when students are released, they can continue Yoga Classes in the community and use Yoga as a resource to help them rebuild their lives. It is our vision that Yoga would be a compliment to other rehabilitative and Mental Health Programs that might be well-suited for the individual students’ needs. We hope to collaborate with community organizations that currently offer Yoga or to bring Yoga Classes into community facilities that work with people after they are released from jail.
What We Do
Freedom on the Inside (FOTI) is a group of 15 Yoga Teachers who teach in the jail. They have attended the jail’s volunteer training, created an orientation program to help teachers, and study how to best serve their students. FOTI Teachers are scheduled weekly to lead the programs we currently offer in the jail.