Mindfulness in Human Development (2020-2021)

This project team, which ran for seven years from 2013-2014 through 2019-2020, brought together Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and students, Y.O.G.A. for Youth NC and community educational partners to analyze the effects of a regular yoga and meditation practice on students’ emotional regulation, academic performance and social behavior.

Over the years, team members have interviewed children, analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data, and conducted many literature reviews to situate their findings in the broader scientific community. Through an initial study the team conducted in the 2015-2016 school year, they found that an after-school yoga program significantly improved emotional regulation. These findings were published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Since 2017, the team has been studying the effects of weekly one-hour school-day programs and five-minute “Mindfulness Moments” at the beginning of classes with both elementary and middle school populations. In 2020-2021, the team observed Zoom yoga classes for students at R.N. Harris Elementary School, coded qualitative data from past years’ interviews and conducted literature reviews for an upcoming paper.

For the past seven years, the team has also hosted the Embodied Learning Summit, which brings together researchers, community members, students and activists to engage across themes of yoga and accessibility. Examples of past Summit themes include sexual violence, body image and racial justice. In 2021, the Summit was centered on the decolonization of yoga. The Summit has attracted internationally recognized keynote speakers, such as Dianne BondySusanna BarkatakiChelsea Jackson Roberts and Zabie Yamasaki, and allowed space for local yoga leaders and members of the team to present workshops. 


Fall 2020 – Spring 2021

Team Outputs

Manuscript (in progress)

2021 Embodied Learning Summit

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


Image: Mindfulness summit in 2019, by Milena Ozernova


Team Leaders

  • Michele Berger, Department of Women's & Gender Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Keval Kaur Khalsa, Arts & Sciences-Dance
  • Harlyn Skinner, Social Science Research Institute

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Avery Brown II, Computer Science (BS)
  • Balraj Dhanoa, Biology (BS)
  • Michaela Kotarba, Interdepartmental
  • Kate Leonard, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Lindsey Noonan, Biology (BS)
  • Sierra Winters, Cultural Anthropology (AB)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Y.O.G.A. for Youth
  • R.N. Harris Elementary School
  • Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Harvard Medical School