Yoga 4 Classrooms®

Tools for learning. Lessons for life.

Our Research: 

Effects of a classroom-based yoga intervention on cortisol and behavior in second- and third-grade students: A pilot study.

The study was designed to determine the effects of a classroom yoga and mindfulness program on students’ physiological stress, perceived behavior and attention. The scientific manuscript has been recently published:

Butzer, B., Day, D., Potts, A., Ryan, C., Coulombe, S., Davies, B., Weidknecht, K., Ebert, M., Flynn, L., & Khalsa, S. B. S. (2015) Effects of a classroom-based yoga intervention on cortisol and behavior in second- and third-grade students: A pilot study. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 20(1), 41-49.

Pictured: L. Flynn, A. Potts with study poster at the Symposium for Yoga
Research, June 11-13, 2013, Boston, MA.


Yoga 4 Classrooms partnered with UMass-Lowell and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, to conduct the first research study to use both subjective and objective data to examine the acute and longitudinal effects of a school-based yoga intervention in young children. The manuscript was recently peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine.

Overall improvements were perceived in second graders' social interaction with classmates, attention span, ability to concentrate on work, ability to stay on task, academic performance, ability to deal with stress/anxiety, confidence/self-esteem, and overall mood. Improvements were also perceived in second and third graders' creativity, ability to be in control of behavior, and ability to manage anger. These improvements in skills related to social and emotional learning (SEL) underlie the core SEL competencies of self-management, social awareness and responsible decision-making, suggesting that yoga may have beneficial effects on the skills that are targeted by SEL programs. In addition, second graders also showed a decrease in cortisol concentrations (a potential biological marker of stress) from before to after the Y4C intervention. In general, these results support prior research suggesting that yoga may increase mental health and well-being, positive behaviors, and SEL skills in children and adolescents.

Read the full manuscript.


The study was presented at the research symposium session of the 2014 Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference in San Diego on February 7th, 2014.

The poster with the study's results was presented at the Symposium for Yoga Research (SYR) organized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists on June 11-13, 2013 in Boston, MA. You can view the scientific poster here.

The abstract for the pilot/feasibility study was published in the Final Program Guide and Abstracts for IAYT's Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) in September, 2011.


Our sincerest gratitude to Danielle Day, Dr. Adam Potts from University of Massachusetts- Lowell and their research team for conducting the study, as well as Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa and Dr. Bethany Butzer at Harvard Medical School/ Brigham and Woman's Hospital, for preparing the scientific publication of the study results.

Many thanks to the students and teachers of the Horace Mitchell Elementary School in Kittery, ME and Principal David Foster for their support and enthusiasm in conducting this study, our lead Yoga 4 Classrooms Trainer Sharon Trull for facilitating the program's implementation in the school, and Marina Ebert for her assistance with the research project.

This study was funded by a grant from David McGillivray and was supported by the DMSE Children’s Fitness Foundation as well as UMass-Lowell faculty start-up funds. BB and SBSK were supported in part by a grant from the Institute for Extraordinary Living of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. SBSK was also supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health (Grant No. 5R34DA032756-02).

Questions regarding this study can be directed to Bethany Butzer, Ph.D.

I like taking yoga breaks because I can focus and concentrate better afterwards.

–A.G., Grade 3 Student

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6 sample activity cards from our popular Yoga 4 Classrooms Card Deck!