Mindfulness in Human Development (2016-2017)

Nationally, interest in the role of yoga in the educational setting and questions of access to the tools of yoga and mindfulness is exploding. The movement to include yoga and meditation in schools contributes to a revised discourse on the goals of public education, one that attends to the health and wellness needs of the “whole child.” However, very little research exists in the areas of youth yoga and yoga in educational settings.

This Bass Connections project brought together Duke and UNC faculty and students, Y.O.G.A. for Youth NC and the Orange County and Chapel Hill/Carrboro Public Schools to analyze the effects of a regular yoga and meditation practice on K-12 students’ mindfulness, emotional regulation, self-esteem, stress response, resilience, physical health, academic performance, social behavior and body image.

The 2016-17 project team focused on developing original scales and instruments to support the empirical study of yoga and mindfulness in schools. Team members also refined the protocol, received IRB and school district approvals and conducted a study in the fall semester.

The team looked at quantitative measures through pre- and post-intervention questionnaires and used the Social Stress scale, the Depression, Anxiety and Stress scale and the Mindful Attention Awareness scale. A pre-yoga and meditation history questionnaire and five-minute mood measure questionnaires were administered before and after two individual classes for each sample group, the control group of students doing homework. The team also reviewed de-identified academic and behavioral records, and looked at qualitative measures through a pilot focus group for students. Preliminary data analysis in the spring semester showed that the yoga program increased the students’ mindful attention, while the control activity reduced it.

The team also hosted a day-long community event to spark conversations about the connections between yoga, mindfulness and racial justice. The event included yoga practice, workshops and a keynote presentation from Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts. More than 100 students, educators, community members and yoga teachers took part.

Two journal articles are forthcoming.


Summer 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outcomes

Mindfulness in Human Development (poster)

Mindfulness in Human Development (presentation by Marah Jolibois and Matthew Kaplan, EHDx Talks, April 19, 2017)

3rd Annual Embodied Learning Summit (February 25, 2017)

International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (poster presentation by Keval Kaur Khalsa, November 10-13, 2016, San Diego, CA)

Symposium on Yoga Research (presentation by Keval Kaur Khalsa, September 19-21, 2016, Stockbridge, MA)


Mindfulness in Human Development

See related teams, Mindfulness in Human Development (2017-2018) and Mindfulness in Education and Human Development (2015-2016).

Team Leaders

  • Keval Kaur Khalsa, Arts & Sciences-Dance

/graduate Team Members

  • Katherine McMahon, Psychology-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Marah Jolibois, Biology (AB)
  • Matthew Kaplan, Program II (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Michele Berger, Department of Women's & Gender Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Liz Harden, Arts & Sciences-Dance

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School System
  • Y.O.G.A. for Youth
  • Patrick Curran, Department of Psychology, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Moriah Glenn, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Sarah Jeffries, UNC-Chapel Hill (Undergraduate student)
  • Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Harvard Medical School
  • Sue Leichliter, UNC-Chapel Hill (Undergraduate student)