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This uncontrolled pilot study examined the effects of a classroom-based yoga intervention on cortisol concentrations and perceived behavior in children. A 10-week Yoga 4 Classrooms intervention was implemented in one second-grade and one third-grade classroom. Students' salivary cortisol responses were assessed at 3 time points. Classroom teachers also documented their perceptions of the effects of the intervention on students' cognitive, social, and emotional skills. Second, but not third, graders showed a significant decrease in baseline cortisol from before to after the intervention. Second and third graders both showed significant decreases in cortisol from before to after a cognitive task, but neither grade showed additional decreases from before to after a single yoga class. The second-grade teacher perceived significant improvements in several aspects his/her students' behavior. The third-grade teacher perceived some, but fewer, improvements in his/her students' behavior. Results suggest that school-based yoga may be advantageous for stress management and behavior.
ContextSubstantial 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.