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April 2012

Yoga May Improve Well-Being in High School Students

Yoga classes may improve psychological well-being in high school students, according to a new study.

Yoga is an ancient system of relaxation, exercise and healing with origins in Indian philosophy. Early descriptions of yoga are written in Sanskrit, the classical literary language of India. The first known work is "The Yoga Sutras," written more than 2,000 years ago, although yoga may have been practiced up to 5,000 years ago. The initial concepts have been adapted over time through translation and scholarly interpretation, but the fundamental principles describing the practice of yoga in the quest of the soul remain largely intact.

Yoga may be beneficial for improving the quality of life for patients with serious diseases as well as in healthy patients. Several studies in cancer patients report enhanced quality of life, lower sleep disturbance, decreased stress symptoms and changes in cancer-related immune cells after patients received relaxation, meditation and gentle yoga therapy. Higher quality studies are needed.

In a new study, researchers randomly assigned 51 high school students to a yoga class or regular physical education (PE) class. Students in the yoga group participated in a program that focused on posture, breathing, relaxation and meditation two to three times weekly for 10 weeks. Various outcome measures, including mood and anxiety were evaluated one week before and after treatment began to assess psychological well-being.

The researchers found that mood and anxiety improved significantly for the students in the yoga group. Outcome measures generally worsened for the students in the regular PE class.

The authors concluded that adding yoga class to a high school curriculum may improve psychological well-being in students. Larger-scale, well-designed clinical trials are needed before firm conclusions can be made.

For more information about yoga, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Noggle JJ, Steiner NJ, Minami T, et al. Benefits of Yoga for Psychosocial Well-Being in a US High School Curriculum: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2012 Apr;33(3):193-201. View Abstract
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