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elementary students doing breathing exercise

There’s no question that getting kids to be active throughout the day is important. The power of movement can play an influential role in a child’s mental, physical, spiritual, academic, and social development.

When you think of kids staying active during the school day, team sports, dance, gymnastics, or other outdoor activities may be the first to come to mind. But there is plenty of research that suggests yoga in schools could greatly benefit children from all levels of education. Here are some important findings.

Mood Improvement

In 2014, a study published in Contemporary School Psychology compared the acute effects of 47 students participating in a single yoga class versus a single standard physical education class (held a week apart) on student mood. The students completed self-report questionnaires assessing mood and affect immediately before and after participating in each of the classes. The students reported significantly greater decreases in anger, depression, and fatigue from before to after participating in yoga compared to the physical education class.

Overall Mental Health Improvement

Another study published in The Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research evaluated the potential mental health benefits of yoga for adolescents in high school. Students were randomly assigned to either regular physical education classes or to 11 weeks of yoga sessions over a single semester. Students completed baseline and end-program self-report measures of mood, anxiety, perceived stress, resilience, and other mental health variables. Those students that participated in yoga showed a statistically significant difference over time compared to the control group on measures of anger control and fatigue. These preliminary results suggest that the implementation of yoga in a high school setting has the potential of playing a protective or preventive role in maintaining mental health.

Academic and Health Improvements

Common Ground Research Networks published a study in 2015 that reported the benefits, effectiveness, and efficacy of yoga for children in various school settings. This study specifically looked at how children learn better and become healthier at different levels of education when they participated in yoga. Their grades improved over time, as did their psychological well-being and rates of obesity. The study concluded that yoga may assist children in learning in the classroom because they are calmer and can pay attention more easily. Additionally, the study suggested that children also learn to become more mindful of their bodies and how to improve their own health in enjoyable ways.


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