The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 80–90

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

  • Sat Bir S. Khalsa
  • Lynn Hickey-Schultz
  • Deborah Cohen
  • Naomi Steiner
  • Stephen Cope

DOI: 10.1007/s11414-011-9249-8

Cite this article as:
Khalsa, S.B.S., Hickey-Schultz, L., Cohen, D. et al. J Behav Health Serv Res (2012) 39: 80. doi:10.1007/s11414-011-9249-8


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.



Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sat Bir S. Khalsa
    • 1
  • Lynn Hickey-Schultz
    • 2
  • Deborah Cohen
    • 5
  • Naomi Steiner
    • 3
  • Stephen Cope
    • 4
  1. 1.Sleep Disorders Research Program, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryHarvard Graduate School of EducationCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Division of Developmental-Behavioral PediatricsThe Floating Hospital for Children, Tufts New England Medical CenterBostonUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Extraordinary LivingKripalu Center for Yoga and HealthStockbridgeUSA
  5. 5.Core YogaCambridgeUSA