The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 80-90

First online:

Evaluation of the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga in a Secondary School: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Sat Bir S. KhalsaAffiliated withSleep Disorders Research Program, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School Email author 
  • , Lynn Hickey-SchultzAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • , Deborah CohenAffiliated withCore Yoga
  • , Naomi SteinerAffiliated withDivision of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, The Floating Hospital for Children, Tufts New England Medical Center
  • , Stephen CopeAffiliated withInstitute for Extraordinary Living, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

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The goal of this study was to evaluate potential mental health benefits of yoga for adolescents in secondary school. Students were randomly assigned to either regular physical education classes or to 11 weeks of yoga sessions based upon the Yoga Ed program over a single semester. Students completed baseline and end-program self-report measures of mood, anxiety, perceived stress, resilience, and other mental health variables. Independent evaluation of individual outcome measures revealed that yoga participants showed statistically significant differences over time relative to controls on measures of anger control and fatigue/inertia. Most outcome measures exhibited a pattern of worsening in the control group over time, whereas changes in the yoga group over time were either minimal or showed slight improvements. These preliminary results suggest that implementation of yoga is acceptable and feasible in a secondary school setting and has the potential of playing a protective or preventive role in maintaining mental health.


Meditation Adolescent Anxiety Anger Stress