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Exploring the Efficacy of a School-based Mindful Yoga Program on Socioemotional Awareness and Response to Stress among Elementary School Students

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a school-based mindful yoga program on socioemotional competence and response to stress among youth. Participants in this quasi-experimental study included 112 5th and 6th grade students from three private Catholic elementary schools located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Students in the intervention group received weekly lessons in mindfulness-based practices across the year from trained child yoga instructors. Participants completed self-report measures on empathic awareness, perspective-taking, and involuntary engagement with stress at pre- and post-test. Analyses suggest that the program was beneficial in preventing significant increases in rumination and intrusive thoughts for students in the intervention group. Physiological and emotional arousal also remained low among the intervention group, but the differences were not significant. Contrary to expectations, levels of empathic awareness and perspective-taking remained stable in the intervention group while increases were reported among students in the control group. School-based mindful yoga programming may support involuntary stress responses among youth and contribute to more informed self-reported socioemotional awareness.

Highlights

  • Examined the benefits of a mindfulness program infused into classrooms across the year within Catholic elementary schools.

  • Findings suggest that school-based mindful yoga may protect against increases in rumination and intrusive thoughts during middle childhood.

  • Participation in mindful yoga was not associated with growth in empathy.

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Acknowledgements

The work for the manuscript was completed at Syracuse University but the corresponding author is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychology Department at SUNY Oswego.

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Reid, S., Razza, R.A. Exploring the Efficacy of a School-based Mindful Yoga Program on Socioemotional Awareness and Response to Stress among Elementary School Students. J Child Fam Stud (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02136-6

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Keywords

  • Empathy
  • Perspective-taking
  • Stress
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness