The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of yoga with youth.
Selection of studies was based on the following inclusion criteria: RCT design, publication in a peer-reviewed journal in English, participants between ages 5 and 18, and assessment of an intervention in which yoga was the primary component.
Our search of seven databases yielded 39 RCTs that met inclusion criteria. Studies were conducted in seven countries, with the majority in the USA. Most studies were conducted with predominantly White samples and in school settings. Studies were variable in the duration, frequency, and number of yoga program sessions. Outcomes included a range of constructs in three domains: psychological/behavioral, cognitive, and physiological/physical functioning. In all but five studies, yoga improved outcomes in at least one of these three domains. Results indicate growing evidence that yoga is a promising intervention for children and youth.
Recommendations for future research include specification of testable theoretical models with hypothesized intervention core components and mechanisms of action, assessment of intervention mediators and moderators, routine monitoring and reporting of factors associated with program implementation, use of common validated outcome measures, and reporting of null or iatrogenic intervention effects.