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 accepted for publication:
Butzer, B., Day, D., Potts, A., Ryan, C., Coulombe, S., Davies, B., Weidknecht, K., Ebert, M., Flynn, L., & Khalsa, S. B. S. (in press). 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.
This uncontrolled pilot study examined the effects of a classroom-based yoga intervention on cortisol concentrations and perceived behavior in children. A 10-week Yoga 4 Classrooms intervention was implemented in one second- and one third-grade classroom. Students’ salivary cortisol responses were assessed at three time points. Classroom teachers also documented their perceptions of the effects of the intervention on students’ cognitive, social and emotional skills. Second, but not third, graders showed a significant decrease in baseline cortisol from before to after the intervention. Second and third graders both showed significant decreases in cortisol from before to after a cognitive task, but neither grade showed additional decreases from before to after a single yoga class. The second-grade teacher perceived significant improvements in several aspects his/her students’ behavior. The third-grade teacher perceived some, but fewer, improvements in his/her students’ behavior. Results suggest that school-based yoga may be advantageous for stress management and behavior.
Read the full manuscript.
The results were 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.
Second, but not third, graders showed a significant decrease in baseline cortisol from before to after the intervention.
PERCEIVED BEHAVIOR: Teacher surveys
Teachers reported an improvement in the following characteristics that were significant regardless of grade (both second & third graders improved):
- ability to be in control of behavior
- ability to manage anger
Overall improvements in 2nd graders only (statistical interaction effect of time and grade) in:
- social interaction
- attention span
- ability to concentrate on work
- ability to stay on task
- academic performance
- ability to deal with stress/anxiety
- confidence and self esteem
- overall mood