Mindful Movement in the Elementary School Classroom & Its Impact on Self-Regulation

by | Dec 10, 2023 | Self-regulation

The holiday season is here, and, as every teacher knows, it usually proves to be one of the most hectic times of year. December often demands an extra dose of patience and energy from us when our reserves may be nearly tapped.

So we’ll keep this week’s post short and sweet. We just want to draw your attention to a study that just came onto our radar regarding mindful movement in the elementary school classroom.

“Significant Improvements” – Subjectively & Objectively

Published early this year in the journal Mindfulness, the study employed a mindful movement intervention meant to improve self-regulation among at-risk urban students. In addition to yoga, the intervention included a modified Tai Chi sequence, imaginative play, and reflection.

Thirty-eight children between the ages of 7 and 8 took part (55% White, 45% POC). Parent and teacher ratings of disruptive behavior, and objective measures of motor and cognitive control were taken at the start of the study and again after 5 months of mindful movement. The activity was done through two regular 45-minute sessions per week in the school gym.

At the end of those five months,

Significant improvements in teacher ratings of inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, oppositional, and other disruptive behaviors were observed. Significant improvements were also observed for objective measures of both cognitive control and motor control with particular reductions in both right and left dysrhythmia.

These findings, the authors note, are in line with previous studies on the matter.

Continuing to Strengthen the Evidence Base

kids sitting on yoga mats From the earliest days of Yoga Calm, we understood the need for a solid evidence base for the curriculum we were developing. Not only is it important for showing efficacy but also for underscoring the value of mindful movement, such as how it can set the stage for improved academic performance, more peaceful classrooms, and a more positive school environment.

Now, with programs like ours at risk of getting caught up in the ongoing pushback against SEL – though not, notably, the skills that it helps children develop – it’s even more important that we can show fence-sitting school administrations how Yoga Calm can help them meet ever-increasing student needs. Studies like this only strengthen it.

To explore more of the research supporting yoga, mindfulness, and SEL in schools, visit our research page.

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