TASN School Mental Health Initiative


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Mindfulness + School-Based Yoga Tools

In recognition of the need for evidence-based, universal, trauma-responsive practices that support the complete physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being of children, youth, staff, and caregivers, the TASN School Mental Health Initiative has partnered with Little Flower Yoga to develop an online video series introducing practices that can be: a) instructionally embedded, and b) accessible to all.

New! Find the videos on our Moodle page.

Research on Mindfulness and School-Based Yoga

Neuroscientific research documenting the interconnectedness of social, emotional, intellectual, and physical well-being is well-established. Healthy cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal skills require regulation of the limbic system. Embodied mindfulness practices – with the express goal of building social and emotional competencies – support the regulation necessary for students to engage their prefrontal cortex and build the additional skills necessary for learning and healthy interactions. Children and youth need to move and connecting with sensation in the body is a particularly effective way to explore mindfulness. Practices derived from yoga1 serve to enhance existing efforts around social and emotional growth through the development of biological self-regulation skills. When mindfulness and yoga are taught together, each become more powerful teaching tools to cultivate inner resources that maximize resilience and support healthy navigation of challenges internally and externally:

  • Mental Health: Kansas Communities that Care data show increased levels of depression2 and conflict.3 Mindfulness and yoga may have beneficial effects on outcomes related to children’s psychological well-being, such as reducing anxiety4 and depression,5 alleviating stress,6 and improving mental health.7
  • Physical Health: Kansas Model Grade-Level Outcomes for Physical Education refer to the value of body awareness, awareness of breath, strengthening and stress-reducing benefits of yoga.8 Studies have found that mindfulness reduces blood pressure9 and enhances sleep quality10 in high school students. Research also suggests that yoga enhances physical well-being,11 physical fitness,12 and balance, strength, and flexibility in youth.
  • Social and Emotional Skills: Kansas Social, Emotional, and Character Development Standards13 note that “personal and academic success are built upon the ability to consider thoughts, understand feelings and manage one’s responses” and the Kansans Can Competencies Framework14 provides a process for embedding intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive skills necessary for lifelong learning including those such as self-care. Mindfulness and yoga may have beneficial effects on a variety of social-emotional outcomes15 such as improved biological self-regulation,16, 17 reduced hostility,18 and fewer problem behaviors,19, 20 and aid in developing a well-regulated foundation to support student engagement and further skill development.
  • Academic Performance: Kansas Communities that Care data indicates that approximately 37% of youth were at risk of academic failure in 2019 based on questions about their grades.21 Mindfulness and yoga may have beneficial effects on academic performance, such as improvements in quarterly grades22 and high-stakes test scores,23 and preventing declines in Grade Point Average (GPA).24

A Note on Evidence-Based Practice

Implementation of an evidence-based practice is a three-part process of integrating best available science (1) with clinical judgment (2) within the context of patient values and beliefs (3).25 Emerging science in the fields of psychology, social work, developmental disabilities, rehabilitation, school mental health, and medicine indicates that yoga and mindfulness-based practices do indeed, have particular benefit when used preventively and/or as part of a holistic intervention regimen:28

  • Are an effective treatment for stress, anxiety, depression, trauma reactions, and physical pain, amongst other concerns, in adults and children.7 
  • Increase attention and promote social-emotional learning and academic outcomes.15 
  • Are feasible to implement within schools, but reduces stress for both students and teachers.26 
  • Help children/adolescents with body and emotion awareness.27

LFY Mindfulness and School-Based Yoga Training

The *Mindfulness and School Based Yoga training developed by Little Flower Yoga are based on the available scientific literature and are informed by practitioners with years of experience in the school setting. Additionally, trainees are taught to develop yoga and mindfulness-based sequences that are sensitive to trauma, physical and developmental disabilities, a child’s developmental level, and the environmental context. In a pilot study of a 12-session Little Flower Yoga program for high schoolers, effects included improved emotional awareness, academic skills, and coping skills Therefore, the Mindfulness and School Based Yoga trainings provided through Little Flower Yoga are evidence-informed practices that can be used in the provision of evidence-based practice.

*See https://www.littlefloweryoga.com/why-mindfulness/#social-emotional-learning.

For systematic review papers and meta-analyses research on yoga and mindfulness for youth, see Serwacki and Cook-Cottone (2012), Khalsa & Butzer (2016), Carsley et al. (2017), Felver et al. (2015), Maynard et al. (2017), McKeering and Hwang (2018), Weaver and Darragh (2015), Dunning et al. (2018), Mak et al. (2017), and Zoogman et al. (2014). For guidance on the application of mindfulness and yoga in schools, see Secularity: Guiding Questions for Inclusive Yoga in Schools.

Adapted from Little Flower Yoga.

This resource is intended for educational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to take the place of informed professional diagnosis, advice, or recommendations. The KSDE TASN SMHI assumes no liability for errors or for the way in which this information is used. The TASN School Mental Health Initiative (SMHI) is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (#H323A17006) and is administered by the Kansas Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education and endorsement by the Office of Special Education Programs should not be assumed. The SMHI does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. Inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies should be sent to: Deputy Director, Keystone Learning Services, 500 E. Sunflower Blvd., Ozawkie, KS 66070; 785-876-2214.


  1. Little Flower Yoga. 2015. LFY Training Manual: Level One. (p. 9). Little Flower Yoga. 
  2. Kansas Communities that Care. (2019). Depression. Retrieved 2020, May 11 from http://kctcdata.org/Manage/ViewQuestion?code=30120&building=0&questionId=Sui15_142&riskProtective=0&surveyType=KCTC&selectedSurvey=CTY&selectedCounty=30120-0&selectedCategory=-999&CategoryName=Depression%2FSuicide 
  3. Kansas Communities that Care. (2019). Problem Behaviors: Violence. Retrieved 2020, May 11 from http://kctcdata.org/Manage/ViewQuestion?code=30120&building=0&questionId=Q0066F&riskProtective=0&surveyType=KCTC&selectedSurvey=CTY&selectedCounty=30120-0&selectedCategory=-999&CategoryName=Problem%20Behaviors
  4. Weaver, L. L., & Darragh, A. R. (2015). Systematic review of yoga interventions for anxiety reduction among children and adolescents. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69(6). https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.020115 
  5. Chi, X., Bo, A., Liu, T., Zhang, P., & Chi, I. (2018). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on depression in adolescents and young adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1034. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01034 
  6. Hagen, I., & Nayar, U. S. (2014). Yoga for children and young people’s mental health and well-being: research review and reflections on the mental health potentials of yoga. Frontiers in psychiatry, 5, 35. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00035
  7. Dunning, D. L., Griffiths, K., Kuyken, W., Crane, C., Foulkes, L., Parker, J., & Dalgleish, T. (2018). The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. PsyArXiv, 9. Retrieved from https://psyarxiv.com/rj5mk/
  8. Kansas State Department of Education. (2018). Kansas Model Grade-Level Outcomes for Physical Education. Retrieved 2019, October 9 from https://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/CSAS/Content%20Area%20(M-Z)/Physical%20Education/2018%20Kansas%20Model%20GLOs%20for%20PE%20by%20Standard%20FINAL%20102218.pdf?ver=2018-10-22-154200-883
  9. Brown Wright, L., Gregoski, M. J., Tingen, M. S., Barnes, V. A., & Treiber, F. A. (2011). Impact of stress reduction interventions on hostility and ambulatory systolic blood pressure in African American adolescents. Journal of Black Psychology, 37(2), 210-233. doi: 10.1177/0095798410380203. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3319013/
  10. Bei, B., Byrne, M. L., Ivens, C., Waloszek, J., Woods, M. J., Dudgeon, P., ... & Allen, N. B. (2013). Pilot study of a mindfulness‐based, multi‐component, in‐school group sleep intervention in adolescent girls. Early intervention in psychiatry, 7(2), 213-220. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-7893.2012.00382.x 
  11. Chen, D. D., & Pauwels, L. (2014). Perceived benefits of incorporating yoga into classroom teaching: Assessment of the effects of “yoga tools for teachers”. Advances in Physical Education, 4(03), 138. doi: 10.4236/ape.2014.43018
  12. Purohit, S. P., Pradhan, B., & Nagendra, H. R. (2016). Effect of yoga on EUROFIT physical fitness parameters on adolescents dwelling in an orphan home: A randomized control study. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 11(1), 33-46. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450128.2016.1139764 
  13. Kansas State Department of Education. (2018, July). Kansas Social, Emotional, and Character Development Model Standards, p. 10. Retrieved 2019, October 9 from https://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Special-Education-and-Title-Services/Social_Emotional_Growth
  14. Kansans Can Competencies. Retrieved 2019, October 9 from https://ksdetasn.org/competency and http://www.cccframework.org/
  15. Maynard, B. R., Solis, M., Miller, V., & Brendel, K. E. (2017). Mindfulness-based interventions for improving cognition, academic achievement, behavior and socio-emotional functioning of primary and secondary students. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 13. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED573474
  16. Bergen-Cico, D., Razza, R., & Timmins, A. (2015). Fostering self-regulation through curriculum infusion of mindful yoga: A pilot study of efficacy and feasibility. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(11), 3448-3461. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-015-0146-2 
  17. Deplus, S., Billieux, J., Scharff, C., & Philippot, P. (2016). A mindfulness-based group intervention for enhancing self-regulation of emotion in late childhood and adolescence: A pilot study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 14(5), 775-790. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11469-015-9627-1 
  18. Frank, J. L., Bose, B., & Schrobenhauser-Clonan, A. (2014). Effectiveness of a school-based yoga program on adolescent mental health, stress coping strategies, and attitudes toward violence: Findings from a high-risk sample. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 30(1), 29-49. https://doi.org/10.1080/15377903.2013.863259 
  19. Frank, J. L., Kohler, K., Peal, A., & Bose, B. (2017). Effectiveness of a school-based yoga program on adolescent mental health and school performance: Findings from a randomized controlled trial. Mindfulness, 8(3), 544-553. doi: 10.1007/s12671-016-0628-3
  20. Franco, C., Amutio, A., López-González, L., Oriol, X., & Martínez-Taboada, C. (2016). Effect of a mindfulness training program on the impulsivity and aggression levels of adolescents with behavioral problems in the classroom. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1385. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031764/
  21. Kansas Communities that Care. 2019. Risk Factors: School Domain. Retrieved 2020, May 11 from http://kctcdata.org/Home/ViewRiskFactorsChart?selectedCounty=30120-0&grade=0&year=2020 
  22. Bakosh, L. S., Snow, R. M., Tobias, J. M., Houlihan, J. L., & Barbosa-Leiker, C. (2016). Maximizing mindful learning: Mindful awareness intervention improves elementary school students’ quarterly grades. Mindfulness, 7(1), 59-67. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-015-0387-6
  23. Bellinger, D. B., DeCaro, M. S., & Ralston, P. A. (2015). Mindfulness, anxiety, and high-stakes mathematics performance in the laboratory and classroom. Consciousness and Cognition, 37, 123-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2015.09.001 
  24. Butzer, B., van Over, M., Noggle Taylor, J. J., & Khalsa, S. B. S. (2015). Yoga may mitigate decreases in high school grades. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4546979/
  25. APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice. (2006). Evidence-based practice in psychology. American Psychologist, 271-85. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.4.271.
  26. Harris, A. R., Jennings, P. A., Katz, D. A., et al. (2016). Promoting Stress Management and Wellbeing in Educators: Feasibility and Efficacy of a School-Based Yoga and Mindfulness Intervention. Mindfulness, 143-154. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0451-2 
  27. Ager, K., Albrecht, N. & Cohen, P. (2015). Mindfulness in Schools Research Project: Exploring Students' Perspectives of Mindfulness-What are students' perspectives of learning mindfulness practices at school?. Psychology, 896-914. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.67088.
  28. Nanthakumar, C. (2018). The benefits of yoga in children. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 14-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joim.2017.12.008 
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