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Study Shows Yoga May Prevent Adolescent Mental Illness

Researchers suggest that high school yoga classes improve psychological well-being and may prevent mental illness onset.

Harvard University researchers wanted to know if yoga might help to prevent the onset of adolescent mental illness.

To test their hypothesis that it might prove psychologically beneficial, they enlisted 51 grade 11 and 12 students at a Massachusetts high school and assigned each to either 10 weeks of regular PE classes or 10 weeks of yoga and meditation classes.

Researchers tested each subject before and after the 10 week classes to asses for changes to overall psychological well-being, mood, anxiety and self regulatory skills.

The Results

  • Students in the yoga group showed greater improvements in mood and anxiety than students taking the regular PE classes
  • Students in the regular PE group displayed higher negative emotion scores after the 10 week program while students in the yoga group displayed improvements in negative emotions at the completion of the study
  • 75% of the students in the yoga group expressed interest in continuing with yoga classes

The researchers call for larger studies to further clarify the psychological benefits of yoga among adolescents, but suggest that since many mental health problems emerge during the teen years, practices like yoga may prevent mental illness onset.

The full study results can be found in the current edition of the journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics

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