Mindfulness in Human Development (2016-2017)


Nationally, interest in the possible 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.” These issues have reached national audiences through several conferences including Yoga: Questions of Inclusion and Access held at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 and the Yoga in Education Research Summit held annually at the Kripalu Institute. However, very little research currently exists in the areas of youth yoga and yoga in educational settings.

Project Description

This project is a continuation of a Bass Connections project that brings together Duke and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill faculty and students, Communities in Schools of Orange County, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Public Schools and Y.O.G.A. for Youth NC for a multiyear quantitative and qualitative research study. We are analyzing the effects of a regular yoga and meditation practice on middle school students’ mindfulness, emotional regulation, self-esteem, stress response, resilience, physical health, academic performance, social behavior and body image.

In 2016-2017, we plan to integrate and build on our research successes by focusing on developing original scales and instruments to support the empirical study of yoga and mindfulness in schools. We believe that by Fall 2016, we will have enough data and time in the field to develop and validate a scale. This is an exciting prospect as it would greatly contribute to the emerging literature on yoga and middle-school children.

Additionally, we plan to refine our larger protocol, which may mean refining aspects of the research design. We are considering using an interrupted time series design (administering yoga intervention to different groups at staggered times to control for external variables that may bias results) and other design measures.

Team members will gain practical experience with designing and implementing a research project; analyzing qualitative and quantitative research; working in a public school setting; working in a nonprofit organization; yoga and meditation practices; and collaborative writing of scholarly articles.

Anticipated Outcomes

Conference presentation; publication


Summer 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outcomes to Date

Mindfulness in Human Development

3rd Annual Embodied Learning Summit, February 25, 2017


Mindfulness in Human Development

See earlier related team, Mindfulness in Education and Human Development (2015-2016).

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Liz Harden, Trinity - Dance
Keval Khalsa, Trinity - Dance*

Graduate Team Members

Kibby McMahon, PhD Program in Psychology and Neuroscience

Undergraduate Team Members

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

Community Team Members

Michele Berger, Department of Women's & Gender Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill* (Co-PI)
Multiple Contributors, Y.O.G.A. for Youth
Patrick Curran, Department of Psychology, UNC-Chapel Hill
Sarah Jeffries, UNC-Chapel Hill
Sue Leichliter, UNC-Chapel Hill
Sarah Pederson, UNC-Chapel Hill - Department of Women's & Gender Studies

* denotes team leader