Yoga in an Urban School for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A Feasibility Study

Abstract

Increasingly, school-aged children present with challenging emotional and behavioral problems and may be resistant to traditional special education approaches (Smith et al., Behav Disorders 36(3):185–194, 2011). These programs do not take into consideration the specific needs of students with emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD). We examined the feasibility and potential for positive effects of yoga sessions within a school setting for children with EBD at an urban elementary school. Thirty-seven children with EBD in an urban school completed a yoga intervention in small groups (7–10 students) twice per week for 3 ½ months. Teachers, parents, and students completed a systematic pre- and post-intervention assessment, and yoga instructors completed attendance and behavior checklists. Average attendance for the yoga sessions was 90 %. Eighty percent of responders described being very satisfied with the intervention. Teachers reported improved attention in class (p = 0.01) and adaptive skills (p = 0.03) and reduced depressive symptoms (p = 0.03), behavioral symptoms (p = 0.01), and internalizing symptoms (p = 0.04). No significant changes were found in the parent data and no discernable trend was found in student reports. These data suggest that yoga administered in small groups in an urban school setting is a feasible school intervention for children with emotional and behavioral disorders and may be effective in reducing symptoms.

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Correspondence to Naomi J. Steiner.

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Steiner, N.J., Sidhu, T.K., Pop, P.G. et al. Yoga in an Urban School for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A Feasibility Study. J Child Fam Stud 22, 815–826 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-012-9636-7

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Keywords

  • Yoga
  • Emotional and Behavioral Disorder
  • Special education
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation