Research on the Learning Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

Research on the Learning Benefits of Yoga and Meditation

In the last decade significant progress has been made in the scientific investigation of yoga and mindfulness as supporting a whole child approach to development, learning and well-being, as well as classroom climate. This research base has created a sound framework for the theoretical and practical approaches at the core of what we do.

Scientific Evidence for the Learning Benefits  Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness

Research on school-based yoga and mindfulness suggests that these programs may have a number of positive effects on student health, behaviour, and performance (Butzer et al., 2016Ferreira-Vorkapic et al., 2015Khalsa & Butzer, 2016Serwacki & Cook-Cottone, 2012). The following list outlines some of the benefits of school-based yoga and meditation practices that address the whole child, thus maximizing the development of academic, social and emotional competence in addition to benefits for teachers and classroom climate:


Social and Behaviour

    Psychological and Emotional



Increasing numbers of teachers and administrators are recognizing that yoga, breath awareness and mindfulness activities are beneficial to their students’ (and their own!) mental health and well-being, and to the learning environment in general. In addition, yoga and mindfulness practices promote self-awareness and self management skills, the basis of social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies as espoused by CASEL (Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning). As yoga offers a non-competitive alternative to sports that supports PE and health standards, it’s also becoming part of many physical and health education curricula and after school enrichment offerings.

The many anecdotal benefits of yoga and mindfulness-based practices for children are well known, and carefully-controlled scientific research is growing every year. Based on increasing evidence supporting the efficacy of yoga for children, school-based yoga programs are being implemented across the United States. These programs are designed to address stress and anxiety, place emphasis on individual abilities rather than competition, and provide a non-threatening and gentle method to increase physical fitness and enhance health, well-being and emotional resilience.

Research in this field is preliminary, however scientific studies suggest that children who practice yoga-based movement, conscious breathing, and mindfulness/meditation activities are better able to regulate their emotions, manage stress and calm themselves. They may also choose better foods to eat and engage in more physical activity than children who do not (Butzer et al., 2016Khalsa & Butzer, 2016). Studies also suggest that centered, calm and focused children learn more easily, have better social skills and, in general, are happier kids.

Studies also show that exercise facilitates children’s executive function (i.e., processes required to select, organize, and properly initiate goal-directed actions) by increasing activation in the prefrontal cortex and serotonergic system. By integrating physical movement with breathing exercises and mindful awareness, yoga serves as a promising form of physical and cognitive training to enhance learning-related outcomes (Butzer et al., in press).

From Yoga4classrooms.