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Yoga can benefit high schoolers’ mental health

Heather Rudow April 12, 2012

(Photo:Flickr/lululemon athletica)

New research from Harvard Medical School suggests that spending a class period practicing yoga could do more for high school students’ mental health than a traditional physical education class.

“Just like we need skills of English and skills of mathematics, we need skills of emotional regulation,” said study researcher Sat Bir S. Khalsa. “I like to call this mind-body hygiene.”

Khalsa said it is critical for students to learn the ability to moderate levels of stress and emotional responses while they’re still young.

For the study, researchers randomly divided 11th and 12th grade students into either yoga or regular physical education classes.

“At the beginning and the end of the semester, students completed questionnaires examining their levels of stress, resilience, anxiety and anger management. The study found that these measures of emotional state tended to worsen among students taking a traditional physical education class, while the levels of those in the yoga group remained the same or improved slightly.”

“If you’re looking at that comparison, between the control kids and the yoga kids, it would suggest yoga is preventative,” said lead researcher Jessica J. Noggle.

Researcher Nicole J. Steiner said that yoga can help students feel like they have control, even in the face of stress and trauma.

“It’s really hard to focus on math, when you’re not sure how you’re going to get through the next day,” Steiner said.

Source: Harvard University

Read Counseling Today’s Reader Viewpoint about getting adolescent boys to buy into yoga, meditation and relaxation.

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

Follow Counseling Today on Twitter.

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