A TOP Scots criminologist has urged schools to introduce yoga to children from troubled homes – to avoid them ending up in prison.
Ross Deuchar claims that yoga, spirituality and meditation has, in the past, helped prisoners from traumatic backgrounds move on with their lives.
Professor Deuchar, assistant dean at the University of the West of Scotland, believes the same method could help steer school pupils away from wasting their lives and ending up in jail.
The Scottish academic said: “This approach really helps people to have a different kind of life and make them more able to deal with anger.
“Yoga or techniques such as meditation and mindfulness could make a difference to young people, in the home and in the classroom environment.
“You could see how it could help break that vicious circle, where children with a difficult home background then become frustrated at school, and lash out.
“Something like this could be really effective in terms of helping them become more ready to learn.”
Professor Deuchar’s idea has been supported by some teachers who have introduced yoga to the classroom and praised its benefits.
Anne Hutchison, teacher at Carmyle Primary School in Glasgow, recently began 30 minute meditation sessions with her P3s.
She said: “They were a particularly lively, very intelligent bunch, and i thought it would help them to calm down a bit.
“Many of them actually fall asleep. Then I bring them gently back to the present moment. “
Ms Hutchison tells the youngsters, aged around eight-years-old, to lie down, close their eyes and imagine their worries floating away.
However, some academics have actually slammed the idea of meditation and yoga with pupils who are experiencing troubled home lives.
Pooky Knightsmith, vice-chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, said: “If a child is suffering abuse at home, being given space and time for thoughts to drift through your head isn’t necessarily good.
“Schools need to be aware of the potential risks, even with the most seemingly nicest of interventions.”
Professor Deucher has studied gang culture in Denmark, Hong Kong and the US.
He recently returned after spending five months on a scholarship to Florida speaking to some of the most violent American offenders.
He has also written a chapter for an upcoming Danish book, Vejen ud Gar Indad (The Outward Goes Inward), discussing violent criminals’ response to yoga.
Professor Deuchar’s upcoming book, Gangs and Spirituality, will feature accounts by a number of Danish prisoners who were introduced to yoga.
The male inmates used a technique called Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) which involves a sequence of breathing techniques.
Most prisoners had grown up in poor communities surrounded by violence, alcoholism, abuse and gangs.
But after experiencing SKY they claimed that yoga gave them a sense of control, happiness and peace.