Behavioral and Psychophysiological Effects of a Yoga Intervention on High-Risk Adolescents: A Randomized Control Trial
The purpose of this study was to conduct a pilot randomized control trial to test whether a mindful yoga intervention had a beneficial impact on substance use and its psychological and psychophysiological correlates in high-risk adolescents. Research on yoga has generated growing evidence for its positive effects on physical and emotional health. However, most studies are conducted with adults, with few controlled studies conducted with youth. We designed a 20-session mindful yoga intervention for adolescents attending a school for students at high-risk for dropping out. The 50-min classes were offered three times a week. The participants (mean age = 16.7 years) were randomly assigned to control and intervention groups. Multi-rater (student, teacher), multi-method (survey, cognitive, psychophysiological) data were collected before and after the yoga curriculum. At post-test, students in the yoga condition, as compared to control students, exhibited trends toward decreased alcohol use and improved teacher-rated social skills (p < .10); and showed a non-significant increase in arousal in response to relevant stimuli as measured in skin conductance. Significant effects were not found on hypothesized proximal measures of self-regulation, mood, mindfulness, or involuntary engagement coping. Future research is needed to replicate and expand upon our findings. Studies are also needed with larger samples to further investigate potential mediators and moderators of yoga's effects.