Yoga 4 Classrooms Studies

Y4C is being used as the intervention in a growing number of formal and informal research studies conducted by our community.

Classroom of elementary students doing yoga show the successfulness of yoga in schools
Featured Study

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

This study was designed to determine the effects of a classroom yoga and mindfulness program (Yoga 4 Classrooms) on students’ physiological stress, perceived behavior and attention. The scientific manuscript has been peer-reviewed and 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.

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 has been 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 text at PubMed Central.

The study was presented at the research symposium 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 (IAYT) on June 11-13, 2013 in Boston, MA. You can view the poster here.

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 for conducting this study, former 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.

More Research Studies

Following are a few additional studies where Y4C was utilized as the main intervention. We look forward to adding to this list as new formal and informal study outcomes are shared with us.

Action Research: What are the perceptions and attitudes of my school community concerning the instruction of yoga in the classroom?
by Jenn Bogard

The year Yoga 4 Classrooms was being implemented in her school, Jenn Bogard was pursuing her master’s degree in education. She was inspired by the benefits she was seeing and chose to focus her action research on yoga in the classroom and related perceptions of her students, families and faculty. In addition to benefits related to SEL and stress reduction, she found that 94% of students agreed that yoga makes their classroom feel safe and supportive.

The Experiences of School Counselors Who Integrate Yoga into a Comprehensive School Counseling Program: A Phenomenological Approach
by Dr. Julia V. Taylor

Findings from this doctoral dissertation suggest that yoga is a viable and valuable tool to include in school counseling programs. The author also suggests that as the yoga in schools movement grows, counselors should be regarded as essential stakeholders in the development, implementation, and evaluation process.

Inner City School Principal Shares Results of School-Wide Implementation of Yoga 4 Classrooms
Case Study: Edmunds Elementary School Principal Shares Data from Schoolwide Yoga 4 Classrooms Implementation

In this article and video, Jaynette Rittman, School Principal of Edmunds Elementary in Des Moines, IA, shares reflections and data demonstrating improvements in student engagement, social and emotional learning, academic performance, and behavior following two years of schoolwide program implementation.

4 Reasons School Counselors Should Include Yoga in school counseling
School Counselor Shares Results of Action Research to Support Her Comprehensive School Counseling Program

In this article, award-winning school counselor, Erin Hurley, shares data from her action research investigating the impact of using yoga and mindfulness to support academic achievement and behavior, as well as her observations of support of compassionate culture, stress-management, and self-care for the entire school community.

Submit your research!

Have you used Yoga 4 Classrooms as an intervention for your research or case study? Whether for an action research project, master’s thesis, doctoral dissertation or other formal or informal investigation, we’d love to feature your work!

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