Melanie Burns is not only a powerful instructor, but a deeply responsible human being.

When you think “Prison Reform,” we’d put money on it that your first thought isn’t “200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Program.” However, a central part of Melanie Burns’ work includes leading teacher trainings in the Maine State Prison as part of the Liberation Institute’s Yoga Teacher Training Program. She does this work of teaching yoga in prisons entirely pro-bono.

Melanie is a prolific hyphenate; business owner-educator-yogi-mentor. She earned her Undergrad in Psychology at Clark University, studied Business at Boston University and currently runs Anatomy Trains, the business and educational programs of founder Tom Myers. Along with that, Melanie owns and operates her own studio, Wicked Good Yoga, as well as The Snow Squall Bed and Breakfast in Wiscasset Maine. She is a Structural Integration Therapist, a 500 Hour E-RYT, 500 Hour Certified Baptiste Teacher, and Certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher who leads Yoga Alliance approved 200 hour and 500 hour Teacher Trainings. One of her classes “Be Your Own Bodyworker” teaches the soft-tissue platform of PT spanning across the body. It also incorporates YTU so her students leave with applied knowledge and the ability to perform their own myofascial release.

When Melanie was approached during one of her classes about the possibility of leading a teacher training program in the Maine State Prison as part of the Liberation Institute’s Yoga Teacher Training Program, she jumped right in and hasn’t looked back since.

To meet the unique needs of the incarcerated individuals in the yoga training program, Melanie offers in-depth education on Polyvagal Theory and nervous system behavior. She helps empower the trainees to both down-regulate when in “safer” environments (such as within the yoga classroom), then reclaim vigilance when they step back out.

Melanie has just finished her second full training, including a graduation for attendee’s where families can join.

Teacher trainer Ariel Kiley sat down with Melanie to learn more about the details of Melanie’s journey to becoming the empowering educator she is today.


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Melanie Burns work in prisons is life-saving. I am touched by her sensitivity to the people and environment. She discusses the need to down-regulate but also recognizes the lack of safety of the prison space to which her students will return. As such, she adds up-regulation, sympathetic system activation to the end of the sessions. It is caring and compassionate. Her consideration of the students and the environment is applicable to all yoga classes. As teachers, it is important to be responsive to students varying needs and to remember that while the relaxation response is vital, we must put forth… Read more »

Melaina Landriault

Melanie Burns sounds like a phenomenal human being. I love her approach and listening to the pod cast brought tears to my eyes. Gives hope to the way of connection we have been living or pulled away from. Very inspiring human.