Background: Yoga may be an effective method to promote physical fitness, motor skills, strength, and attention to task, mindfulness and stress reduction in children. However, evidence is limited on the feasibility of conducting yoga programs for preschool children in integrated preschools (Early Intervention and Head Start). The purpose of this study is to examine the feasibility and acceptance of a yoga program in an integrated preschool. All preschoolers in this study have or are at risk for developmental delay or disability.
Methods: Seventy one (71) pre-schoolers aged 3-5 years participated in a 5 week yoga program. (2 sessions/ week). Thirty-nine (39) pre-schoolers participated in pre and post gross motor measures. Teachers completed pre and post Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Clinical Form (DECA-C) to examine pre-schoolers behavioural concerns. Teachers provided anecdotal feedback on the feasibility and acceptance of the yoga program in the preschool setting.
Results: The pre-schoolers improved on two of the five gross motor tests (Stepping Sideways over a Balance Beam: z=- 3.34, p=0.001and Sit-to-Stand (z=-4.29, p=0.001). One significant finding was observed for DECA-C Behavioural Control (z=-2.59, p=0.010).
Conclusion: A yoga program may be feasible in the integrated preschools to promote gross motor skills. However, the DECA-C findings indicated that behavioural control (attention, focus, emotions) decreased suggesting that the yoga program may need to be revised to include more social, behavioural and interactive activities. Teachers indicated that students were eager and that they showed improved attention with better transitions among classroom activities.