School-based Yoga Programs in the United States: A Survey
Advances in Mind-Body Medicine
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2015
Pages: 18 - 26
Source ID: shanti-sources-32916
Collection: Yoga-Based Medical Interventions
Abstract: CONTEXT: Substantial interest has begun to emerge around the implementation of yoga interventions in schools. Researchers have found that yoga practices may enhance skills such as self-regulation and prosocial behavior, and lead to improvements in students' performance. These researchers, therefore, have proposed that contemplative practices have the potential to play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of US public education. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the present study was to provide a summary and comparison of school-based yoga programs in the United States. DESIGN: Online, listserv, and database searches were conducted to identify programs, and information was collected regarding each program's scope of work, curriculum characteristics, teacher-certification and training requirements, implementation models, modes of operation, and geographical regions. SETTING: The online, listserv, and database searches took place in Boston, MA, USA, and New Haven, CT, USA. RESULTS: Thirty-six programs were identified that offer yoga in more than 940 schools across the United States, and more than 5400 instructors have been trained by these programs to offer yoga in educational settings. Despite some variability in the exact mode of implementation, training requirements, locations served, and grades covered, the majority of the programs share a common goal of teaching 4 basic elements of yoga: (1) physical postures, (2) breathing exercises, (3) relaxation techniques, and (4) mindfulness and meditation practices. The programs also teach a variety of additional educational, social-emotional, and didactic techniques to enhance students' mental and physical health and behavior. CONCLUSIONS: The fact that the present study was able to find a relatively large number of formal, school-based yoga programs currently being implemented in the United States suggests that the programs may be acceptable and feasible to implement. The results also suggest that the popularity of school-based yoga programs may continue to grow.