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CONTEXT: Professional musicians often experience high levels of stress, music performance anxiety (MPA), and performance-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs). Given the fact that most professional musicians begin their musical training before the age of 12, it is important to identify interventions that will address these issues from an early age.OBJECTIVE: This study intended to replicate and expand upon adult research in this area by evaluating the effects of a yoga intervention on MPA and PRMDs in a population of adolescent musicians. The present study was the first to examine these effects. DESIGN: The research team assigned participants, adolescent musicians, into two groups. The intervention group (n = 84) took part in a 6-wk yoga program, and the control group (n = 51) received no treatment. The team evaluated the effects of the yoga intervention by comparing the scores of the intervention group to those of the control group on a number of questionnaires related to MPA and PRMDs. SETTING: The study was conducted at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI). BUTI is a training academy for advanced adolescent musicians, located in Lenox, Massachusetts. PARTICIPANTS: Participants were adolescent, residential music students (mean age = 16 y) in a 6-wk summer program at the BUTI in 2007 and 2008. INTERVENTION: Participants in the yoga intervention group were requested to attend three, 60-min, Kripalustyle yoga classes each wk for 6 wk. OUTCOME MEASURES: MPA was measured using the Performance Anxiety Questionnaire (PAQ) and the Music Performance Anxiety Inventory for Adolescents (MPAI-A). PRMDs were measured using the Performance-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Questionnaire (PRMD-Q). RESULTS • Yoga participants showed statistically significant reductions in MPA from baseline to the end of the program compared to the control group, as measured by several subscales of the PAQ and MPAI-A; however, the results for PRMDs were inconsistent. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that yoga may be a promising way for adolescents to reduce MPA and perhaps even prevent it in the future. These findings also suggest a novel treatment modality that potentially might alleviate MPA and prevent the early disruption and termination of musical careers.
Research on the efficacy of yoga for improving mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral health characteristics in school settings is a recent but growing field of inquiry. This systematic review of research on school-based yoga interventions published in peer-reviewed journals offers a bibliometric analysis that identified 47 publications. The studies from these publications have been conducted primarily in the United States (n = 30) and India (n = 15) since 2005, with the majority of studies (n = 41) conducted from 2010 onward. About half of the publications were of studies at elementary schools; most (85%) were conducted within the school curriculum, and most (62%) also implemented a formal school-based yoga program. There was a high degree of variability in yoga intervention characteristics, including overall duration, and the number and duration of sessions. Most of these published research trials are preliminary in nature, with numerous study design limitations, including limited sample sizes (median = 74; range = 20-660) and relatively weak research designs (57% randomized controlled trials, 19% uncontrolled trials), as would be expected in an infant research field. Nevertheless, these publications suggest that yoga in the school setting is a viable and potentially efficacious strategy for improving child and adolescent health and therefore worthy of continued research.