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Benefits of Yoga for Psychosocial Well-Being in a US High School Curriculum: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial

Noggle, Jessica J. PhD*; Steiner, Naomi J. MD; Minami, Takuya PhD; Khalsa, Sat Bir S. PhD*

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 193–201
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31824afdc4
Original Articles

Objective: To test feasibility of yoga within a high school curriculum and evaluate preventive efficacy for psychosocial well-being. Methods: Grade 11 or 12 students (N = 51) who registered for physical education (PE) were cluster-randomized by class 2:1 yoga:PE-as-usual. A Kripalu-based yoga program of physical postures, breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation was taught 2 to 3 times a week for 10 weeks. Self-report questionnaires were administered to students 1 week before and after. Primary outcome measures of psychosocial well-being were Profile of Mood States—Short Form and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule for Children. Additional measures of psychosocial well-being included Perceived Stress Scale and Inventory of Positive Psychological Attitudes. Secondary measures of self-regulatory skills included Resilience Scale, State Trait Anger Expression Inventory-2™, and Child Acceptance Mindfulness Measure. To assess feasibility, yoga students completed a program evaluation. Analyses of covariance were conducted between groups with baseline as the covariate. Results: Although PE-as-usual students showed decreases in primary outcomes, yoga students maintained or improved. Total mood disturbance improved in yoga students and worsened in controls (p = .015), as did Profile of Mood States-Short Form (POMS-SF) Tension-Anxiety subscale (p = .002). Although positive affect remained unchanged in both, negative affect significantly worsened in controls while improving in yoga students (p = .006). Secondary outcomes were not significant. Students rated yoga fairly high, despite moderate attendance. Conclusions: Implementation was feasible and students generally found it beneficial. Although not causal due to small, uneven sample size, this preliminary study suggests preventive benefits in psychosocial well-being from Kripalu yoga during high school PE. These results are consistent with previously published studies of yoga in school settings.

From the *Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; †Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Center for Children with Special Needs, The Floating Hospital for Children, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA; ‡Department of Counseling Psychology, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.

Received August 2011; accepted January 2012.

This study was supported by funding from private donors to the Institute of Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

Disclosure: S.B.S. Khalsa and J.J. Noggle have received consultant fees from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. The other authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address for reprints: Jessica Noggle, PhD, Sleep Disorders Research Program, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 221 Longwood Avenue BLI 542, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.