Yoga is a proven alternative to medication for kids as demonstrated by Dr Oliver James in a Guardian article on the search engine.
Readers of this blog will know about the remarkable changes our Impact & Change programme has brought to children in the UK’s primary schools. (For more information, see this story). So we were delighted to learn about a new study proving the mental and psychological effects of yoga for teens.
Harvard Medical School has just released a study about the psychological benefits of yoga on teenagers in 11th and 12th grade. Published in the April issue of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the study concluded that yoga may “serve a preventative role in adolescent mental health” by providing teens with beneficial ways to deal with stress and trauma, instead of falling into the dangerous and destructive behavioural patterns so common in high schools across the States.
51 high school students took part in the study. They were randomly assigned to either regular PE classes, or Kripalu-style yoga classes that included asana, pranayama, relaxation exercises, and mediation. The students were given multiple tests and questionnaires, before and after the 10-week program, regarding their levels of anxiety and stress, their anger management abilities, and their mindfulness and resilience in the face of challenges. The results show that students who took yoga were better equipped to deal with life’s ups and downs than those in the regular PE classes. Since mental health disorders often form in the teenage years, learning effective healthy coping strategies for dealing with stress is essential during this time.
Although the study was small, its results are nevertheless promising.It’s great to see further evidence of how yoga teaches young adults positive ways to react and deal with life’s challenges.
Today YogaBugs, the UK’s leading provider of children’s yoga, published the first evaluation of its Impact & Change programme for schools. The study evaluated results from 1,122 children who participated in its Impact & Change programme from across 50 different schools. Nine areas related to emotional and physical aspects of learning were analysed. Remarkably the results from children at Key Stage 1 showed an overall improvement of 39% across the nine areas evaluated, whilst children at Key Stage 2 showed an overall improvement of 38%.
In addition the study found:
The overall improvement made by boys was 39% by whilst the overall improvement made by girls was 38%;
Before the programme, children at Key Stage 1 scored an average of 5.7 out of 10 for confidence, with this rising to 8.1 when the programme ended;
There was an overall increase of 37% in the ability of children at Key Stage 1 to concentrate and listen, rising to 41% at Key Stage 2;
There was an overall increase of 39% in the ability of children at Key Stage 1 to work co-operatively, respect and relate well to others whilst the overall improvement made at Key Stage 2 was 36%;
There was an overall increase of 41% in the fitness of children at Key Stage 1 whilst the overall improvement made at Key Stage 2 was 34%.
To ensure a full cross section of children were included in the study, the results from a total of 1,122 children were analysed. 591 boys and 531 girls took part. 651 were from the Key Stage 1 age group and 471 were from the Key Stage 2 age group. To measure whether financial background made a difference to skill levels, a cross-section of schools from low-income areas (£10,000 or less), mid-income areas (£25,000 – £35,000) and high-income areas (£50,000 plus) were selected. The results were consistent across the three income groups.
The purpose of the Impact & Change programme is to increase children’s emotional, physical and social development whilst also providing schools with tangible evidence of its results and benefits. At the start of the 10 week programme, the YogaBugs teacher delivers a short programme to the class teacher, giving them the skills to use breathing and relaxation techniques with children on a daily basis. This helps to reinforce the weekly programme of YogaBugs classes which are based on key texts such as “Giraffes Can’t Dance” and “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt” to take children on a magical adventure. These stories provide stimulus for the imagination and are central to the YogaBugs vision.
Classes follow a clear structure with exercises to warm up at the beginning, followed by an adventure into which yoga postures are weaved and a period of relaxation at the end. The class teacher assesses the children’s social, physical and behaviour skills before and after the course. At the end of the programme, the school receives a full report highlighting the changes that have resulted in each of the nine areas assessed.
Fenella Lindsell, founder of YogaBugs explains why the Impact & Change programme has been so effective:
“Many of us practice yoga for the physical benefits we gain in terms of improved mobility, flexibility, strength and stamina but we may not have realized quite how much yoga helps us mentally and emotionally. We’re really excited by the results that have been gathered from our Impact and Change Programme and feel it is an ideal time to highlight them to more schools nationwide. The Healthy Schools Programme underlines the importance of emotional well-being. A child who is confident and happy will be an easier and more responsive child to teach and the child will enjoy learning more as a result.”
Commenting on the success of the programmes, Mark Goode, YogaBugs CEO said:
“YogaBugs programmes have been carefully and specifically designed with the purpose of improving children’s emotional and physical literacy. They target nine main areas based on developing social, emotional, physical and behavioural skills. Our goal is to improve the overall well-being of every child. What is remarkable is that regardless of a child’s background or gender, the YogaBugs programme achieved major improvements across all the nine targeted areas.”