Kripalu yoga classes have shown to have positive psychological effects on high-school students, according to a pilot study in the April “Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics,” the official journal of the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
“Yoga may serve a preventive role in adolescent mental health,” according to the new study, led by Jessica Noggle, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Based on Kripalu yoga, the classes for the study consisted of physical yoga postures together with breathing exercises, relaxation and meditation. A total of 51 11th- and 12th-grade students registered for physical education (PE) at a Massachusetts high school and were randomly assigned to yoga or regular PE classes, with two-thirds assigned to yoga.
The students completed a battery of psychosocial tests, including tests of mood and tension/anxiety, before and after the 10-week yoga program. Both groups completed tests assessing the development of self-regulatory skills—such as resilience, control of anger expression, and mindfulness—thought to protect against the development of mental health problems.
Teens taking yoga classes had better scores on several of the psychological tests. Specifically, students in regular PE classes tended to have increased scores for mood problems and anxiety, compared to those taking yoga classes who stayed the same or showed improvement.
Furthermore, negative emotions also worsened in students taking regular PE, while improving in those taking yoga.