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Yoga 4 Classrooms study results are in - learn what researchers report on yoga in classrooms

Thursday, June 06, 2013

We are excited to report about the results of our study, Effects of a Classroom Based Yoga Intervention on Stress & Attention in Second & Third Grade Students, conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Department of Exercise Physiology research team.

The study’s goal was to see if yoga classes in school have an effect on students’ attention span and stress levels - something that teachers reported has improved following a Yoga 4 Classrooms residency. Rigorous tests were used to get scientific data, such as salivary cortisol test as the marker of stress level. In addition, teachers were asked to rate each student on a number of academic, social and emotional outcomes before and after a 10 week yoga intervention. 

Statistically significant improvements were observed in both 2nd and 3rd graders in the areas of ability to be in control of behavior, to manage anger, and creativity. As well, according to the teachers, overall improvements in 2nd and 3rd graders were evident 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

Positive significant results also came from the second grade classroom, showing lower cortisol stress response in students after the 10-week classroom yoga residency, which might suggest that students felt less stressful after learning yoga and mindfulness activities in their school.

As with any study, there are limitations and the need for further tests and analyses. Due to the pilot study design, these results do not allow us to attribute the changes in stress response or other characteristics to the yoga classes specifically. Nevertheless, this study is important as it suggests that a long-term practice of mind-body skills positively impacts the stress levels of students, especially at a younger age. 

Read more about challenges facing research on yoga on our blog: Why do we need science to prove the effectiveness of yoga-based programs in education? and Bridging yoga practice and scientific research. 

To learn more on the science of yoga and mindfulness, visit our Supporting Research page, Garrison Institute’s Research Database, and IAYT website.

The poster with the study's results will be presented at the Symposium for Yoga Research (SYR) organized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists on June 11-13, 2013 in Boston, MA. Y4C team is proud to participate in the SYR for the 3rd year in a row. Taking place on June 11-13, 2013 in Boston, MA, this symposium brings together the researchers, practitioners, teachers, students and policy makers for a dialogue and support in the field yoga therapy. One of the highlights of the conference will be Plenary Presentation: An Overview of Research on Yoga for Youth by Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa of Harvard Medical School. Lisa Flynn and UML researchers would be happy to connect with you at our study poster presentation - Learn more and register to attend!

We are excited to have taken the first step to test the effects of yoga programming on a number of student outcomes, and looking forward to the next phase of the research. We want to thank the amazing research team at the UMass-Lowell, lead by Dr. Danielle Day and graduate student Adam Potts, for their great work, as well as Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa and his lab for consulting on this project.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the students, teachers and administration of the Horace Mitchell Elementary School in Kittery, ME, and personally to the school's Principal David Foster, for offering their enthusiastic support along every step of the research process. KMS is dedicated to creating a sustainable school environment to foster children's physical and psychological well-being through the practice of yoga and mindfulness. Lead Yoga 4 Classrooms Trainer Sharon Trull facilitated the implementation of the program in the school and we appreciate your support with conducting this research.

For more on the details of the study, visit our website.

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