Evidence

The academic journal articles presented below are citation and abstracts (author summaries) on current research into Yoga, Mindfulness and Progressive Muscle Relaxation with Children and Adolescents. The articles below are of a high academic standard and are peer reviewed and published within reputable medical, psychology and early developmental journals.

The citation and abstracts provided allow you to see the evidence behind yoga, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation and breathing as important tools in helping children deal with a wide range of issues such as stress, anxiety, concentration, self-esteem and self-regulation.

If you would like to research further into the field, you may want to access the full text of these articles. To access these articles in full text please click on the hyperlink below which will take you to the journal publishers’ website. Some of these journal articles may be available free of charge while others are pay per use. You may pay for the article online or alternatively contact your local library service to see if access is available via the library service for free.

Published journals

  • Yoga for children and young people’s mental health and well-being: Research review and reflections on the mental health potentials of yoga.

    Authors: Hagen, Ingunn. , & Nayar, Usha S.

    Source: Frontiers in Psychiatry, Vol 5, Apr 2, 2014. ArtID: 35

    Abstract:
    This article discusses yoga as a potential tool for children to deal with stress and regulate themselves. Yoga provides training of mind and body to bring emotional balance. We argue that children and young people need such tools to listen inward to their bodies, feelings, and ideas. Yoga may assist them in developing in sound ways, to strengthen themselves, and be contributing social beings. First, we address how children and young people in today’s world face numerous expectations and constant stimulation through the Internet and other media and communication technologies. One reason why children experience stress and mental health challenges is that globalization exposes the youth all over the world to various new demands, standards, and options. There is also increased pressure to succeed in school, partly due to increased competition but also a diverse range of options available for young people in contemporary times than in the past. Our argument also partially rests on the fact that modern society offers plenty of distractions and unwelcome attractions, especially linked to new media technologies. The dominant presence of multimedia devices and the time spent on them by children are clear indicators of the shift in lifestyles and priorities of our new generation. While these media technologies are valuable resources in children and young people’s lives for communication, learning, and entertainment, they also result in constant competition for youngster’s attention. A main concept in our article is that yoga may help children and young people cope with stress and thus, contribute positively to balance in life, well-being, and mental health. We present research literature suggesting that yoga improves children’s physical and mental well-being. Similarly, yoga in schools helps students improve resilience, mood, and self-regulation skills pertaining to emotions and stress.

    LINK: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00035/full

  • Young children’s experiences with yoga in an early childhood setting.

    Authors: Stapp, Alicia Cooper. & Wolff, Kenya.

    Source: Early Child Development and Care, Vol 189(9), Aug, 2019. pp. 1397-1410.

    Abstract:
    School-based yoga programmes have been implemented in schools across the United States with promising results. However, the majority of research on yoga programmes has occurred within the K-12 setting. Much less is known about the benefits of yoga with young children. The current body of research on yoga and young children has been quantitative and aimed at measurable results. Conversely, the purpose of this study was to investigate young children’s experiences with yoga through a qualitative approach. Observations of yoga classes and group interviews with 34 preschool children were conducted. Participants were encouraged to be active agents in the research through language, creative art, and movement. This became data for qualitative analysis to ‘visualize children’s voice’. The findings indicated that children’s perceptions of yoga were overwhelmingly positive and that they would continue yoga if given the opportunity.

    LINK: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03004430.2017.1385607?journalCode=gecd20

  • Healthy Learning Mind - a school-based mindfulness and relaxation program: a study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial.

    Author: Volanen SM; Folkhälsan.

    Source: BMC Psychology [BMC Psychol] 2016 Jul 11; Vol. 4 (1), pp. 35. Date of Electronic Publication: 2016 Jul 11.

    Abstract:
    Background: Mindfulness has shown positive effects on mental health, mental capacity and well-being among adult population. Among children and adolescents, previous research on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions on health and well-being has shown promising results, but studies with methodologically sound designs have been called for. Few intervention studies in this population have compared the effectiveness of mindfulness programs to alternative intervention programs with adequate sample sizes.

    Methods/design: Our primary aim is to explore the effectiveness of a school-based mindfulness intervention program compared to a standard relaxation program among a non-clinical children and adolescent sample, and a non-treatment control group in school context. In this study, we systematically examine the effects of mindfulness intervention on mental well-being (primary outcomes being resilience; existence/absence of depressive symptoms; experienced psychological strengths and difficulties), cognitive functions, psychophysiological responses, academic achievements, and motivational determinants of practicing mindfulness. The design is a cluster randomized controlled trial with three arms (mindfulness intervention group, active control group, non-treatment group) and the sample includes 59 Finnish schools and approx. 3 000 students aged 12-15 years. Intervention consists of nine mindfulness based lessons, 45 mins per week, for 9 weeks, the dose being identical in active control group receiving standard relaxation program called Relax. The programs are delivered by 14 educated facilitators. Students, their teachers and parents will fill-in the research questionnaires before and after the intervention, and they will all be followed up 6 months after baseline. Additionally, students will be followed 12 months after baseline. For longer follow-up, consent to linking the data to the main health registers has been asked from students and their parents.

    Discussion: The present study examines systematically the effectiveness of a school-based mindfulness program compared to a standard relaxation program, and a non-treatment control group. A strength of the current study lies in its methodologically rigorous, randomized controlled study design, which allows novel evidence on the effectiveness of mindfulness over and above a standard relaxation program.

    Trial Registration: ISRCTN18642659 . Retrospectively registered 13 October 2015.

    LINK: https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-016-0142-3

  • Yoga in public school improves adolescent mood and affect.

    Authors: Felver, Joshua C., Butzer, Bethany., Olson, Katherine J., Smith, Iona M. & Khalsa, Sat Bir S.

    Source: Contemporary School Psychology, Vol 19(3), Sep, 2015. pp. 184-192.

    Abstract:
    The purpose of the present study was to directly compare the acute effects of participating in a single yoga class versus a single standard physical education (PE) class on student mood. Forty-seven high school students completed self-report questionnaires assessing mood and affect immediately before and after participating in a single yoga class and a single PE class one week later. Data were analyzed using paired-samples t tests and Wilcoxon-signed ranks tests and by comparing effect sizes between the two conditions. Participants reported significantly greater decreases in anger, depression, and fatigue from before to after participating in yoga compared to PE. Significant reductions in negative affect occurred after yoga but not after PE; however, the changes were not significantly different between conditions. In addition, after participating in both yoga and PE, participants reported significant decreases in confusion and tension, with no significant difference between groups. Results suggest that school-based yoga may provide unique benefits for students above and beyond participation in PE. Future research should continue to elucidate the distinct psychological and physiological effects of participating in yoga compared to PE activities.

    LINK: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40688-014-0031-9

  • Yoga as a complementary therapy for children and adolescents: A guide for clinicians.

    Authors: Kaley-Isley, Lisa C., Peterson, John., Fischer, Colleen. & Peterson, Emily.

    Source: Psychiatry, Vol 7(8), Aug, 2010. pp. 20-32.

    Abstract:
    Yoga is being used by a growing number of youth and adults as a means of improving overall health and fitness. There is also a progressive trend toward use of yoga as a mind-body complementary and alternative medicine intervention to improve specific physical and mental health conditions. To provide clinicians with therapeutically useful information about yoga, the evidence evaluating yoga as an effective intervention for children and adolescents with health problems is reviewed and summarized. A brief overview of yoga and yoga therapy is presented along with yoga resources and practical strategies for clinical practitioners to use with their patients. The majority of available studies with children and adolescents suggest benefits to using yoga as a therapeutic intervention and show very few adverse effects. These results must be interpreted as preliminary findings because many of the studies have methodological limitations that prevent strong conclusions from being drawn. Yoga appears promising as a complementary therapy for children and adolescents. Further information about how to apply it most effectively and more coordinated research efforts are needed.

    LINK: http://innovationscns.com/yoga-as-a-complementary-therapy-for-children-and-adolescents-a-guide-for-clinicians/

  • The joy of being: Making way for young children's natural mindfulness.

    Authors: Erwin, Elizabeth J. & Robinson, Kimberly A.

    Source: Early Child Development and Care, Vol 186(2), Feb, 2016. pp. 268-286.

    Abstract:
    This article offers a novel and timely context for understanding mindfulness practices in early childhood education. Positioned within a larger social context of mindfulness, we conducted an extensive systematic review of the literature to examine the scope and nature of mindfulness and early childhood. We found that mindfulness and young children constitute a growing area of interest globally which may be culturally determined as demonstrated in how these practices are perceived and implemented in early childhood settings. Although there was variability in the ways mindfulness practices were considered, all of the articles selected for this review discussed the positive outcomes associated with mindfulness for young children. Research and practice implications are offered.

    LINK: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03004430.2015.1029468?journalCode=gecd20

  • Mind-Body Therapies in Pediatrics.

    Authors: McClafferty, Hilary

    Source: Alternative & Complementary Therapies (ALTERN COMPLEMENT THER), Feb2018; 24(1): 29-31. (3p)

    Abstract:
    The article offers information on several therapies used in pediatrics which involves compassion-based meditation, yoga, and tai chi. It mentions that yoga reduces prenatal disorders, risk of small for gestational age and reduces levels of pain and stress in mothers and is safe and effective during pregnancy. It presents information on tai chi which offers progressive muscle relaxation in improving self-control in children.

    LINK: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2017.29143.hmc?journalCode=act

  • Mind-Body Therapies in Children and Youth.

    Institutional Author: Section on Integrative Medicine

    Source: Pediatrics (PEDIATRICS), Sep2016; 138(3): e1-e12. (12p)

    Abstract:
    Mind-body therapies are popular and are ranked among the top 10 complementary and integrative medicine practices reportedly used by adults and children in the 2007-2012 National Health Interview Survey. A growing body of evidence supports the effectiveness and safety of mind- body therapies in paediatrics. This clinical report outlines popular mind-body therapies for children and youth and examines the best-available evidence for a variety of mind-body therapies and practices, including biofeedback, clinical hypnosis, guided imagery, meditation, and yoga. The report is intended to help health care professionals guide their patients to nonpharmacologic approaches to improve concentration, help decrease pain, control discomfort, or ease anxiety.

    LINK: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/3/e20161896

  • Fostering self-regulation through curriculum infusion of mindful yoga: A pilot study of efficacy and feasibility.

    Authors: Bergen-Cico, Dessa, Razza, Rachel &Timmins, Amy

    Source: Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol 24(11), Nov, 2015. pp. 3448-3461.

    Abstract:
    This study examined feasibility and efficacy of curriculum infusion of mindful yoga to foster self-regulation in support of academic performance and health promotion among emerging adolescents. Mindful yoga practices were integrated into 6th grade English Language Arts curricula (n = 72 students) while another cohort of students (n = 70) served as the active control group. To assess the impact of infused mindful yoga practices, self-regulation was measured using the Adolescent Self-Regulatory Inventory. Data were collected at three time-points across the year. Students who engaged in mindful yoga demonstrated significant increases in both global and long-term self-regulation compared to the control cohort; however there were no significant changes in short-term self-regulation. Implications for integrating mindful practices into middle school curriculum are discussed with recommendations for future research.

    LINK: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-015-0146-2

  • Complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine: mind-body medicine.

    Authors: McClafferty, Hilary

    Source: Pediatrics in Review (PEDIATR REV), 2011 May; 32(5): 201-203. (3p)

    Abstract:
    Mind-body therapies can add an important dimension to pediatric care and allow practitioners to offer gentle, effective, drug-free, and cost-effective treatment options. Children of all ages can derive benefit from mind-body therapies, which are used in a both inpatient and outpatient settings. Some of the best-studied populations for mind-body interventions are children who have chronic conditions, such as pain, anxiety, arthritis, migraine or tension headache, recurrent abdominal pain, dysfunctional voiding, and cancer. Use of mind-body skills to mitigate caregiver stress is an interesting area of emerging research that may have important pediatric implications in the future. Many educational and training programs are available in the field of mind-body medicine, some of which are included in the resources section.

    LINK: https://pedsinreview.aappublications.org/content/32/5/201

  • Changes in emotional distress, short term memory, and sustained attention following 6 and 12 sessions of progressive muscle relaxation training in 10–11 years old primary school children.

    Authors: Hashim, Hairul Anuar & Zainol, Nurul Ain.

    Source: Psychology, Health & Medicine, Vol 20(5), Jul, 2015. pp. 623-628.

    Abstract:
    Purpose: This study compared the effects of 6 and 12 sessions of relaxation training on emotional distress, short-term memory, and sustained attention in primary school children. Methods: Participants (N = 132) aged 10 and 11 years old participated in this study. All participants and their parents provided written informed consent. Participants completed the measurement instruments before and after the completion of relaxation training. Results: Nearly half (49%) of all respondents reported moderate to extremely severe stress, and 80 and 61% reported moderate to extremely severe anxiety and depression, respectively. The results of a one-way analysis of variance revealed a significant difference among the groups in mean changes in short-term memory. A greater memory increase was observed in the 12-session than in the six-session and no-training group. Conclusion: It can be conceived that 12-session of training should be considered when prescribing relaxation regimens as a nonspecific clinical treatment (i.e. for healthy students). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

    LINK: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13548506.2014.1002851?journalCode=cphm20

  • A better state-of-mind: deep breathing reduces state anxiety and enhances test performance through regulating test cognitions in children.

    Authors: Khng KH; a National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University , Singapore.

    Source: Cognition & Emotion [Cogn Emot] 2017 Nov; Vol. 31 (7), pp. 1502-1510. Date of Electronic Publication: 2016 Sep 26.

    Abstract:
    A pre-test/post-test, intervention-versus-control experimental design was used to examine the effects, mechanisms and moderators of deep breathing on state anxiety and test performance in 122 Primary 5 students. Taking deep breaths before a timed math test significantly reduced self-reported feelings of anxiety and improved test performance. There was a statistical trend towards greater effectiveness in reducing state anxiety for boys compared to girls, and in enhancing test performance for students with higher autonomic reactivity in test-like situations. The latter moderation was significant when comparing high-versus-low autonomic reactivity groups. Mediation analyses suggest that deep breathing reduces state anxiety in test-like situations, creating a better state-of-mind by enhancing the regulation of adaptive-maladaptive thoughts during the test, allowing for better performance. The quick and simple technique can be easily learnt and effectively applied by most children to immediately alleviate some of the adverse effects of test anxiety on psychological well-being and academic performance.

    LINK: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02699931.2016.1233095

  • Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Traumatized Adolescents: An Underutilized, Understudied Intervention.

    Authors: Horesh, Danny; Gordon, Ilanit

    Source: Journal of Loss & Trauma (J LOSS TRAUMA), Nov/Dec2018; 23(8): 627-638. (12p)

    Abstract:
    Mindfulness involves the cultivation of conscious awareness and attention, with an emphasis on seeing and accepting things as they are. While mindfulness-based interventions have been widely examined among adults with posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], they were very scarcely studied among traumatized adolescents. In this paper, we address this gap in knowledge. We present evidence supporting the potential benefits of applying mindfulness-based interventions in PTSD, and argue that mindfulness, with its emphasis on nonjudgmental thought, mind-body connection, and a group setting, may be particularly suitable for traumatized adolescents. We therefore encourage researchers to allocate more resources to systematically study the utility of mindfulness practice among this population.

    LINK: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15325024.2018.1438047?journalCode=upil20

  • Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Youth With Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

    Authors: Borquist-Conlon, Debra S.; Maynard, Brandy R.; Farina, Anne S. J.; Brendel, Kristen Esposito

    Source: Research on Social Work Practice (RES SOC WORK PRACT), Feb2019; 29(2): 195-205. (11p)

    Abstract:
    Purpose: To examine the effects on anxiety of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) among youth with anxiety disorders. Method: Systematic review and meta-analytic procedures were employed to synthesize experimental and quasi-experimental studies authored between 1980 and 2015. Results: The search yielded five studies from five countries reporting results for a total of 188 youth between the ages of 5 and 18 (mean age 13.26) who met criteria for an anxiety disorder. Risk of bias varied across studies. Meta-analytic results suggest a moderate and significant effect (g = .62; 95% confidence interval = [0.20, 1.04], p = .004). Heterogeneity was moderate (I2= 47.22) and not statistically significant (Q = 7.58, df = 4, p = .11), thus moderator analyses were not warranted. Discussion: The findings of this review suggest that MBIs for the treatment of anxiety in youth with anxiety disorders are effective.

    LINK: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1049731516684961