Yoga at school might work wonders for the younger set, new research suggests.
In the study, 52 third-graders who had symptoms of anxiety were randomly assigned to take part in either yoga/mindfulness sessions for eight weeks, or to a control group that received usual care such as counseling and other activities from a school social worker.
At the start of each school day, the students in the yoga/mindfulness group had sessions that included breathing exercises, guided relaxation and several yoga poses appropriate for children, the researchers explained.
"The intervention improved psychosocial and emotional quality of life scores for students, as compared to their peers who received standard care," said study author Alessandra Bazzano. She's an associate professor of global community health and behavioral sciences at Tulane University in New Orleans.
"We also heard from teachers about the benefits of using yoga in the classroom, and they reported using yoga more often each week, and throughout each day in class, following the professional development component of intervention," Bazzano added in a university news release.
The Tulane researchers said they focused on third-graders because that's when academic demands increase for elementary school students.
"Our initial work found that many kids expressed anxious feelings in third grade as the classroom work becomes more developmentally complex," Bazzano said. "Even younger children are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, especially around test time."
The study was published recently in the journal Psychology Research and Behavior Management.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has more on anxiety disorders at school.
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