A growing body of research exists surrounding the benefits of mindfulness and yoga for today’s youth. We’ve scoured scientific journals, case studies, articles, and the Internet to provide you with information from some of the most preeminent thought leaders in this area.
Researchers at Pennsylvania State University agree that mindfulness training not only improves physical and emotional well-being, it can also improve our learning abilities. Regular mindfulness practice has been proven to increase attention, enhance problem solving, and even reduce procrastination. Students also learned stress-reduction techniques that are beneficial during testing situations. Click here to learn more.
Pioneering neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson has studied the positive effects of contemplative practices on individuals and their communities. His studies demonstrate that through mindfulness practices, the brain can be changed both functionally and structurally for the better. Benefits include enhanced social behaviors and increased academic success in young people. Click here to learn more.
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles explored the connection between yoga practice and improved academic and social behaviors. The study demonstrated that regular practice not only improved physical and mental well-being, it also enhanced cooperation, focus, communication, and academic performance. Click here to learn more.
Cardiologist Herbert Benson studied the relationship between a relaxation curriculum and academic achievement in middle-school students. His studies revealed that just one year of regular exposure led to increased GPAs, work habits, and cooperation. Click here to learn more.
Neurobiologist Dan Siegel is committed to studying the connection between mindfulness and altered brain function. His research demonstrates that regular mindfulness practice can enhance focus and attention, improving relationships with self, family, community, and beyond. His studies include work in the areas of cognitive science, computer science, linguistics, mathematics, physics, and more. To learn more, click here.
The Harvard Medical School conducted a study on how a yoga practice would benefit the psychosocial well-being of high-school students. Researchers replaced their regular physical-education class with yoga postures, breathing exercises, relaxation, and mediation instruction. The study demonstrated that not only did students achieve improved mood and reduced stress, they were able to maintain those benefits beyond their non-yoga counterparts. Click here to learn more.
For more than two decades, industry thought leader John Kabat-Zinn has studied the benefits of mindfulness on physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Ongoing research has demonstrated that mindfulness has been effective in reducing chronic pain, reducing stress, decreasing negative behaviors, and enhancing mood. Additional studies have revealed improvements in brain function as a direct result of mindfulness practices. Click here to learn more.
A study conducted by the Yoga Journal revealed that nearly 15 million Americans practice yoga and those people experience immediate and ongoing benefits. Those benefits have been shown to include enhanced metabolism and other biological functions as well as reduced stress hormones and tension. Yoga practitioners also enjoy increased muscular strength and enhanced cardiorespiratory function. Beyond physical benefits, yoga elicits improved emotional and mental states, an enriched sense of self, and a heightened connection to others and our surroundings. To learn more, click here.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) conducted a landmark study that revealed that the type of student training found in the Shanti Generation mindfulness curriculum improved positive behavior, reduced negative behavior, enhanced student attitudes toward school, boosted academic performance, and better prepared young people for success in their adult lives. Click here to learn more.
Researchers from the Department of Educational and Counseling at the University of British Columbia conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of mindfulness education in upper-elementary and middle school classrooms. Results clearly demonstrated that those students who participated in regular mindfulness exercises showed increased optimism, enhanced classroom behavior, and heightened self-esteem. Further, the researchers found that educators found the curriculum easy to integrate into current classroom procedures. Click here to learn more.
Another study of mindfulness programs in the classroom offered benefits that extended beyond students. A pilot program showed that teachers and administrators gained significant benefits from mindfulness practice implementation. In addition to improving classroom behavior, educators experienced reduced job-related stress and burnout. Further, they found that the program enhanced their relationships school-wide. Click here to learn more.
A research paper prepared by a special-education administrator and healthcare expert Karma Carpenter demonstrates that yoga can be particularly beneficial for students with special needs. Carpenter notes that benefits for children with learning or emotional disabilities can include increased body awareness, enhanced physical strength, improved concentration, enriched formative development in young children. Click here to learn more.
Broderick, P. C. & Metz, S. (2009). Learning to BREATHE: A pilot trial of a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 2, pp. 35-46.
Handbook of Prosocial Education (2012), Philip M. Brown, Michael, W.Corrigan & Ann Higgins-D’Alessandro.Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Broderick, P. C. & Jennings, P. A. (2012). Mindfulness for adolescents: A promising approach to supporting emotion regulation and preventing risky behavior. New Directions for Youth Development, Winter, Issue 136, 111-126.
Cohen, Jonathan (ed.). (1999). Educating Minds and Hearts. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Contributors include: Maurice Elias, Linda Bruene Butler, Janet Patti, Linda Lantieri and Peggy McIntosh.
Elias, Maurice J., Joseph E Zins, Roger P. Weissberg, Karin S Frey, Mark T. Greenburg, Norris M. Haynes, Rachael Kessler, Mary E. Schwab-Stone, Timothy P. Shriver. (1997). Promoting Social and Emotional Learning. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Glazer, Steven (ed.). (1999). The Heart of Learning. New York: Tarcher/Putnam.
Contributors include: Huston Smith, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., Parker J. Palmer, The Dalai Lama. bell hooks and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.
Goleman, Daniel (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York, NY; Bantam Books.
Goleman, Daniel (2006). Social Intelligence. New York, NY: Audio Renaissance.
Kessler, Rachael (2000) The Soul of Education. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Jensen, Eric (2005). Teaching with the Brain in Mind. San Diego, CA; The Brain Store Inc.
Seigel, Daniel (1999). The Developing Mind. New York: The Guilford Press.
Sousa, David (2005), (third edition), How the Brain Learns, Westlake, CA: Corwin Press Inc.
Begley, Sharon (2007). Train Your Mind Change Your Brain. New York: Ballantine Books.
Brown K. W. & R. M. Ryan (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.
Siegel, Daniel J. (2007). The Mindful Brain. New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company.
Wallace, B. Alan (2006). The Attention Revolution. Boston: Wisdom Productions.
Hooks, Bell (1994). Teaching to Transgress. New York: Routledge.
Horton, Myles, & Paulo Friere (1990). We Make the Road By Walking. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Dychtwald, Ken (1986). Bodymind. New York: Tarcher/Putnam.
Hannaford, Carla ((2005), (second edition), Smart Moves. Utah: Great River Books.
Mira, Silva & Shyam Mehta (1990). Yoga: The Iyengar Way. London: Knopf.
Sparrowe, Linda & Patricia Walden (2002). The Woman’s Book of Yoga & Health. Boston & London: Shambhala.
Elkind, David (1998). All Grown Up and No Place to Go. Massachusetts: Perseus Books Group.
Gurian, Michael (1998). A Fine Young Man. New York: Tarcher/Putnam
Pipher, Mary (1994). Reviving Ophelia. New York: Riverhead Books.
Garbarino, James (1992). Children and Families in the Social Environment. New York: Aldine De Gruyter.
Palmer, Parker (2004). A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pearce, Joseph Chilton (1992). Magical Child. New York: Plume.
Fontana, David & Ingrid Slack (1997). Teaching Meditation to Children. London: Element.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon (2005). Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. New York: Hyperion.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon (2005). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York: Hyperion.
Mipham, Sakyong Rinpoche (2003). Turning the Mind into an Ally. Riverhead Books.
Murdock, Maureen (1987). Spinning Inward. Boston & London: Shambhala.
Suzuki, Shunryu (1973). Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Boston: Shambhala (formerly Weatherhill).
Rozman, Deborah (1976). Meditation for Children. California: Celestial Arts.
Appreciative Inquiry Commons: Appreciativeinquiry.case.edu
“Appreciative Inquiry focuses us on the positive aspects of our lives and leverages them to correct the negative. It’s the opposite of ‘problem-solving.” T.H. White
Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning
School Climate Blog: Csee.net
Center for Social and Emotional Education
The George Lucas Educational Foundation