Mindfulness in Human Development (2018-2019)

The presence of yoga and meditation in educational settings has steadily increased, making its way from the periphery (after-school programs, yoga clubs) to a central part of school culture and curriculum through innovative programs. A promising new field of study has emerged as researchers examine the mental, emotional and physical effects of yoga on children and adolescents in school settings. Despite the interest in yoga and mindfulness in K-12 settings, this developing research area faces many methodological and theoretical challenges. Moreover, there are questions about the elements of yoga practice as opposed to mindfulness itself, and gaining buy-in from parents, teachers and school administrators is often a challenge. These questions need to be investigated empirically to provide a trajectory of best practices.

This multiyear Bass Connections project brought together Duke and UNC Chapel Hill faculty and students, the nonprofit organization Y.O.G.A. for Youth NC as well as community educational partners. In 2018-2019, team members analyzed the effects of a regular yoga and meditation practice on students’ mindfulness, emotional regulation, self-esteem, stress response, resilience, physical health, academic performance, social behavior and body image.

This year’s team also analyzed the effectiveness of the Y.O.G.A. for Youth Teacher Training Program introduced at Phillips Middle School in Chapel Hill in 20187. The team found that students who participated in the yoga program reported a significant increase in their ability to regulate emotions. Additionally, yoga students showed an increase in engaging in goal directed behavior.

The team also hosted an Embodied Learning Summit that brought together educators, parents and students to explore the intersection of social justice, educational systems and research on yoga and mindfulness. Open to all community members, the free event featured a keynote speaker, several workshops, panels and time for yoga practice. Following the event, the team collected feedback from attendees and has facilitated the continuation of conversations around these topics by sending monthly newsletters to connect attendees to relevant events and resources.


Fall 2018 – Spring 2019

Team Outputs

Mindfulness in Human Development (poster by Briana Bernstein, Roxy Ghadimi, Alejandra Gómez, Lindsey Noonan, Alizeh Sheikh, Emilia Soulios, Morgan Vickery, presented at EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019 and at Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 17, 2019)

Mindfulness in Human Development (talk by Alejandra Gomez and Alizeh Sheikh, EHDx, Duke University, April 9, 2019)

Embodied Learning Summit, February 23, 2019

This Team in the News

The Power of Bass Connections Teamwork

Yoga in the Era of #MeToo: Scenes from the Embodied Learning Summit

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related teams, Mindfulness in Human Development (2019-2020) and Mindfulness in Human Development (2017-2018).

Children in a class doing yoga

Team Leaders

  • Michele Berger, Department of Women's & Gender Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Keval Kaur Khalsa, Arts & Sciences-Dance

/graduate Team Members

  • Katherine McMahon, Psychology-AM, Psychology-PHD

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Tiffany Ghadimi, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Alejandra Gomez, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Lindsey Noonan, Biology (BS)
  • Alizeh Sheikh, Evolutionary Anthropology (BS)
  • Emilia Soulios, Int Comparative Studies (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Amy Patel, Social Science Research Institute

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Briana Bernstein, Undergraduate Student, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Y.O.G.A. for Youth
  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School System
  • Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Harvard Medical School
  • Morgan Vickery, Undergraduate Student, UNC-Chapel Hill (Computer Science & Human Dev)