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CopeLetterDear Friends and Supporters:

Over the past few years, many of you have been particularly enthusiastic about our Yoga in the Schools (YIS) program. We’re thrilled with your interest and generous support, and are dedicating a good portion of this newsletter to updating you on this important project. 

YIS is aimed at the development of a study that will evaluate the long-term effects of yoga on emotional self-regulation, self-development, self-efficacy, and self-esteem in adolescents. In 2010, we expanded this project from one local high school, Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, to a second school, Waltham High School, in the Boston area. This fall, we plan to bring the program into a third school—Everett High School—also in the Boston area. As you can see, we are testing our program in schools with very different demographics as a way of preparing for the envisioned long-term study. We’re impressed with the way in which this evidence-based school program has changed young lives, and are eager to make it widely available to schools and communities.

We’re happy to welcome Kripalu’s new Chief Operating Officer, David Surrenda, Ph.D, who began his tenure here in January 2011. David is a real champion of the IEL’s efforts in both curriculum development and research, and his presence at Kripalu augurs well for the success of our projects. We look forward to a long relationship with David, and are eager for each of you to meet him. 

Thanks again, so much, for your ongoing interest and support. All warmest wishes, as always,

Stephen Cope, Director
Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living
yoga in the schools
In September 2010, Yoga in the Schools (YIS) curriculum developers Janna Delgado and Iona Smith designed and implemented the first YIS teacher training and manual. Key components of the curriculum include yoga, pranayama, mindful living and acceptance instruction, emotion regulation, and stress-reduction techniques. Following this training, the Institute for Extraordinary Living (IEL) expanded the YIS program to Waltham High School, located in the Boston area. Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa from Harvard Medical School and his research team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are evaluating measures of emotion regulation, mental health, well-being, and cognitive performance. A total of 313 students are enrolled in the Boston program and receive yoga classes twice a week for four months, spreading across the 2010/2011 school year. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; students say that they are engaged and interested in the yoga classes.

We are pleased to announce that both the Cape Branch Foundation and the Robbins De Beaumont Foundation awarded grants to the IEL for our work in the schools. This will support the expansion of the YIS program into a second Boston-area school district, Everett High School. We plan to implement the YIS curriculum and research protocol with Everett High School beginning in the fall of 2011.

Dr. Jessica Noggle, YIS Project Leader, is currently applying to various foundations and government grants, including a recent application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse for $450,000. This grant will be distributed over a three-year period to evaluate yoga for substance abuse risk factors in high school students.

In addition to research with the YIS program, Jessica’s long-term research interests lie in defining the underlying physiological and cognitive mechanisms by which yoga influences and eases the aging and dying process.
michelle campbell, 9th and 10th grade physical education teacher, monument mountain regional high school
"The yoga intervention has been a great success at Monument Mountain Regional High School (MMRHS). It was interesting to see the students evolve as the intervention progressed through the 12 weeks. Students who tend to not be as successful in regular physical education classes excelled and thoroughly enjoyed the yoga classes. The yoga classes brought all the students to the same level and as the classes continued, students felt more comfortable around each other. They were willing to try new things, teach each other yoga postures, and seemed to really dive into the experience. Several teachers at MMRHS have shared with me the difference they see in some of the students. Parents have also communicated that they noticed a positive change in their children when it comes to dealing with stress and their relationships at home. The school community has become very interested in what is going on in the yoga classes, and many teachers have expressed an interest to observe the yoga classes. The yoga program in the Berkshires has gained so much popularity that PE teachers from other schools have visited MMRHS to observe the intervention and curriculum in hopes of implementing the YIS program into their school. Overall, the yoga intervention has been a huge success at the school and we hope to continue it in the future."
dr. jessica noggle
Jessica Noggle, PhD, RYT (pictured at the right), holds the first postdoctoral research fellowship funded by a yoga institution (Kripalu Center) in the United States. She is the Project Leader for the Yoga in the Schools (YIS) research study, directing the evaluation of yoga for the mental health of high school students in both western Massachusetts and Boston. This effort includes running studies at Monument Mountain Regional High School and Waltham High School, analyzing results, and writing for publication. Currently she has four manuscripts in preparation related to the YIS program, expected to be published later in 2011.

This position merges Jessica’s passion and profession. With an interest in yoga therapy, several years of classical hatha yoga training, teaching, and yoga apprenticeship, Jessica became a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and started attending the IAYT’s annual Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research (SYTAR), where she met Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa. Jessica presented the results of our research titled “Group randomized, controlled evaluation of yoga for adolescent mental health within a high school curriculum,” which won a Research Abstract Award in recognition of excellence and innovation at the 2010 SYTAR. This historic symposium, sponsored by IAYT, was the first comprehensive and widely publicized academic meeting in the West devoted to yoga therapy research.

In addition to research with the YIS program, Jessica’s long-term research interests lie in defining the underlying physiological and cognitive mechanisms by which yoga influences and eases the aging and dying process.

the iel team 2010

• yoga for weight loss
The IEL successfully completed the second program evaluation of its Yoga- and Ayurveda-based weight loss program in November 2010. Preliminary results for both spring and fall 2010 program runs are positive, indicating a trend toward weight loss and improvements on several parameters of psychological well-being. Much data remains to be analyzed, including Ayurvedic doshas, food journals, personal journals, qualitative interviews, and secondary statistical analysis assessing a broad range of variables. Current efforts are devoted to analyzing data, writing manuscripts, acquiring Internal Review Board approval, and preparing for grant submission.

• brain/mri (improvement of brain function)
Dr. Sara Lazar and her research team are in the process of MRI data analysis and writing publications on how yoga affects the brain. Currently the team is conducting preliminary studies necessary to design a large clinical trail that will be submitted in February 2012. Tim Gard will be joining the Lazar lab as a postdoctoral fellow in the middle of 2011.

• ptsd
Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa recently received an additional $300,000 in grant funding from the Department of Defense for the study of yoga as an intervention for servicemen and servicewomen with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This additional funding has enabled Sat Bir and his research team to strengthen the study design by including a wait-list control group. The PTSD team has begun to collaborate with the Boston VA Healthcare System in order to bolster recruitment efforts. Currently, a third cohort of veterans is completing the single-armed, one-group yoga intervention. The randomized controlled trial is expected to begin in January 2011 and will continue through December 2013.

• IEL standardized yoga curriculum
The Standardized Yoga Curriculum finished 2010 with strong preliminary data demonstrating the efficacy of the program. Edi Pasalis, Director of the Standardized Yoga Curriculum, and Micah Mortali, co-teacher, have recently completed the fourth round of the program for Kripalu staff. Participants included employees from a wide array of departments, including Kitchen, Household, Shop, Marketing, and Information Technology. To date, nearly 100 employees have participated in several phases of the program. Dr. Sara Lazar has administered a comprehensive research protocol including pre, post, and follow-up questionnaires. In addition, Mindy Miraglia, Market Research Specialist of Searcher LLC, interviewed all participants for curriculum development. Results show a decrease in stress and increase in mood, and the stories of personal and professional transformation have been moving. Congratulations to Edi Pasalis, who will be co-presenting at the Center for Mindfulness’ 2011 conference with representatives from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and Google Corporation on bringing mindfulness-based initiatives into organizations.

stay connected
For more information regarding the IEL,

For more infrmation regarding donations, please contact
Kelly Baxter-Spitz,
Director of Development


Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to teach the art and science of yoga to produce thriving and health in individuals and society.

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