Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Date of Defense

5-18-2015

Graduate Advisor

Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Committee

Wolfgang Althof

Natalie Bolton

Brian Hutchison

Abstract

The purpose of this concurrent mixed methods study was to investigate the potential of yoga to increase positive psychological health, decrease depressive symptoms, and increase flourishing in nonclinical high school students. Yoga was incorporated as part of a physical education (PE) course at a suburban high school with high school students (n = 27). Another section of the same course without yoga served as the control group (n = 38). Both groups completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) Scale to measure depressive symptoms, the Flourishing Scale for Teens, and the Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment (PERMA) Profiler to measure flourishing rates to gather quantitative data. All three measures were given as a pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest. The qualitative data consisted of both groups answering open-ended questions about their wellness and experience in PE/yoga class at the same time that the students filled out quantitative questionnaires. In addition, five students from the yoga group were interviewed about their experiences three times throughout the semester. A multivariate analysis of variance and analyses of covariance were run on the quantitative data to determine differences between groups on the quantitative data. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify key themes in the interviews and written answers. No significant differences were found between groups on the quantitative measures, except that the yoga group was found to have significantly less depressive symptoms than the control group 5 months after the intervention. Qualitative results show that it is feasible to implement yoga during the school day; student depressive symptoms have the potential to be decreased through yoga by increasing relaxation, decreasing anxiety, increasing energy, and increasing self-confidence. Yoga has the potential to increase student flourishing through increased positive emotion, increased positive relationships, and an increased sense of accomplishment. Qualitative results also show that students noticed physical elements of yoga. These results suggest that yoga has the potential to be useful to schools to address the adolescent depressive symptoms and flourishing.

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