Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Counselor Education and Supervision

First Advisor

Dr. Caroline Perjessy

Second Advisor

Dr. Carla Stewart


The effects of ongoing stress can cause chronic affect dysregulation, destructive behavior against self and others, learning disabilities, dissociative problems, somatization, and distortions in concepts about self and others (Bessel van der Kolk, 1994, p. 259). There may be particular benefits for youth who live in urban, underserved populations as they have experienced social challenges such as poverty, violence, drugs, racism, and immigration. Given the historical tendency of youth to express their emotions externally as a coping strategy, there is rationale to support a physically based treatment, like yoga, as an intervention for this population (Beltran et al., 2016). This study explores using yoga to build resilience as a mindfulness-based intervention for children who have experienced chronic adversity, particularly for students living in underserved communities. The primary research questions for this mixed methods study are (R1): Does mindfulness-based yoga improve adolescents’ perception of their ability to emotionally self-regulate; and (R2): How does mindfulness-based yoga improve adolescents’ perception of their ability to self-regulate?

This mixed-methods study used the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS-C) as a pre-post methodology, interview methods, along with application of the spiritual capitol theory, to examine the effectiveness of yoga as an intervention for increased emotion regulation for underserved, minority school settings. Adolescents (n = 12) participated in an eight-session, four-week pilot yoga intervention that targeted increasing resilience as evidence by perceived stress and emotion regulation.

There was not a statistically significant difference from pre to post yoga program despite the decrease in participants’ perceived stress (t (11) = .114; p >.05). Overall, participants scored higher before the yoga program on the perceived stress measure (M = 17.58, SD = 3.370) but decreased once the program concluded (M = 15.50, SD = 4.583). Positive affect was not statistically significant although the scores increased from before to after the yoga program (t (11) = .276; p >.05). Despite this trend, students scored lower before the yoga program on positive affect (M = 39.25, SD = 10.515) and trended towards significant increase after the program (M = 42.25, SD =8.001). There was a statistically significant difference from the pre to post yoga program for negative affect (t (11) = .029; p <.05] experienced by the participants. Overall, the students scored higher before the yoga program (M = 30.75, SD = 9.265) and significantly decreased after the program (M = 25.25, SD =8.740) indicating a reduction in negative affect.

Despite limited statistical significance, the participants expressed positive experiences, increased emotion regulation, and reduced stress. These are significant outcomes for adolescents who have experienced chronic adversity to build resilience. Yoga, in school settings, has many implications to include fostering the development of resilience for children who have experienced chronic adversity. Future researchers may work towards understanding how yoga strengthens resilience among increased sample sizes within the same target population.