Yoga 4 Classrooms Supporting Research
In the last decade rapid and significant progress has been made in the scientific investigations of the whole child approach to development, learning and well-being. The confluence of ideas across the disciplines creates a sound framework for theoretical and practical approaches at the core of Yoga 4 Classrooms®.
The following are some of the benefits of yoga and mindfulness practices which address the whole child, thus maximizing the academic, social and emotional competence development in the educational settings:
- Provides students healthy ways to express and balance their emotions.
- Promotes a more relaxed, comfortable state of being - the perfect state for teaching and learning.
- Brings students into the present moment – the most basic requirement for learning.
- Encourages community and connectedness within the classroom.
- Helps to create an atmosphere of confidence, enthusiasm and non-competitiveness where everyone can succeed.
- Provides opportunities for beneficial motor breaks throughout the day.
- Eases anxiety and tension (such as pre-test or performance jitters).
- Enhances focus, concentration, comprehension and memory.
- Provides opportunities for reflection, patience and insight, reducing impulsivity and reactivity.
- Supports social and emotional learning.
- Improves listening skills.
- Wakes up sluggish minds and creativity as needed.
- Enhances organizational and communication skills.
- Improves posture, assisting students to sit comfortably for long periods.
- Enhances motor skills and balance.
- Improves mind/body awareness and connection.
- Improves confidence and self-esteem.
- Encourages respect for oneself and others.
- Creates a calm, harmonious classroom.
Scientific research in the field of contemplative education
Increasing numbers of teachers and administrators are recognizing that yoga, breath awareness and mindfulness activities as being beneficial to their students' (and their own!) mental health and well-being, and to the learning environment in general. As yoga offers a non-competitive alternative to sports, it's also becoming part of many physical education curricula and after school enrichment offerings.
The many anecdotal benefits of yoga and mindfulness-based practices for children are well known, and carefully-controlled scientific research is growing every year.
Note: Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a comprehensive reference list of peer-reviewed published studies highlighting scientific evidence of yoga's effectiveness. Also, check out this blog post featuring science research behind the school yoga-based programs.
Based on the increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of kids yoga, special yoga-based programs within schools are being developed for children, designed to address stress and anxiety, place emphasis on individual abilities rather than competition, and provide non-threatening and gentle method to increase physical fitness and enhance health and well-being.
Overwhelmingly, research shows that children who practice yoga-based movement, conscious breathing, and mindfulness activities are better able to regulate their emotions, manage stress and calm themselves. They may also choose better foods to eat and engage in more physical activity than children who do not. The studies also illustrate that centered, calm and focused children learn more easily, have better social skills and, in general, are much happier kids.
Studies show that exercise facilitates children's executive function (i.e., processes required to select, organize, and properly initiate goal-directed actions) by increasing activation in the prefrontal cortex and serotonergic system. Because of the integration of physical movement with breathing exercises and mental focus practice, yoga may prove to be an ideal form of exercise to enhance those aspects of children's mental functioning central to cognitive development.
Supporting Articles, Books, Websites (270 KB)
A great database of peer-reviewed publications on contemplative education with links to the full citations and abstracts for each article is provided through the Garrison Institute Contemplative Teaching and Learning Initiative. The database is being continually updated as new articles are published.
» Learn about Y4C's ongoing research study with UMass Lowell
You may also read Action Research paper focused on Y4C program implemented in 3rd grade, which found that reduction of stress, increase of imagination, and a calm state of mind were among the positive benefits of the program.