Yoga 4 Classrooms has partnered with a University of Massachusetts-Lowell Department of Exercise Physiology research team, led by Danielle Day, Ph.D. The UMass research team is working to conduct a research study to determine the effects of a classroom yoga and mindfulness program on academic performance, mood and behavior, attention/focus, stress and immune function.
Improving academic performance and educational outcome for children in elementary and secondary schools has become a major area of focus for decision makers at the state and federal levels. Even more pressure has been put on teachers to improve test scores including the state aptitude test since the passing of the NO Child Left Behind Act in 2002. This act was designed to accomplish four main goals: to expand local control and flexibility of education, to do what works based on scientific research, to have accountability for results, and to have more options for parents. The goal of the proposed research study is to provide sound scientific data on a systematic program (utilizing components of Yoga 4 Classrooms) that may facilitate these goals.
The abstract for our pilot/feasibility study was published in the Final Program Guide and Abstracts for IAYT's Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) in September, 2011.
Preliminary survey data:
Pre-residency desired improvements: concentration, ability to shift negative attitude, creativity and self-control.
Post-residency perceived improvements: attention span, ability to stay on task, focus/ability to concentrate, respect for self/others, ability to adjust attitude, ability to deal with stress/anxiety, emotional well-being.
Ongoing Study Objectives:
- to examine the effects of a yoga program on academic performance and mental focus
- to examine physiological changes (markers of immune function and stress levels) that may occur as a result of the yoga intervention
- to assess teachers’ perceptions of the Y4C program’s effects on students’ social skills and emotional learning via subjective questionnaires
- 50 students in grades 1-3 in one elementary school
- Random assignment to the yoga intervention group (6 classrooms) and the control group (no yoga – 3 classrooms)
- 6 time points for data collection
- Measures of both acute response, immediately following the first Yoga session, and chronic effects after 10 weeks of the program.
- Attention Network Test adapted for children - an experimental protocol to assess focus/attention span
- Standardized math and reading comprehension tests before and after a single yoga session, and before and after the 10-week Y4C residency
- Salivary cortisol and IGA (immunoglobulin A) assessment using an ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay)
- Individual child behavior assessment by teachers.