A vital mind in a vital body: Integrating yoga practice into an undergraduate positive education course


Two promising approaches to promote student mental health are positive education and yoga. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of integrating a yoga component into a positive education course offered at the University of Ottawa on undergraduate students' mental health, affect, self-compassion, and vitality. In this Pretest-Posttest design, seven volunteer students completed a two-week baseline, followed by a 6-week yoga component including two weekly virtual yoga classes, and another two-week baseline, all while taking the positive education course. Trait variables were assessed via validated questionnaires during the baseline phases preceding and following the yoga component, while state variables were assessed before and after one of the weekly yoga sessions. Differences in trait and state variables pre- and post-yoga were compared by means of Paired-Samples t-tests. Practicing yoga was found to contribute to a significant mean increase in mental health (MD=8.18; 95% CI [2.38, 13.98]; p=0.007; d=1.304), positive affect (MD=4.90; 95% CI [1.09, 8.72]; p=0.010; d=1.189), trait self-compassion (MD=0.59; 95% CI [0.24, 0.94]; p=0.003; d=1.543), state self-compassion (MD=0.28; 95% CI [0.09, 0.46]; p=0.005; d=1.387), trait vitality (MD=3.04; 95% CI [0.26, 6.33]; p=0.032; d=0.853), and state vitality (MD=4.98; 95% CI [2.52, 7.43]; p=0.001; d=1.877), along with a significant mean decrease in negative affect (MD=1.60; 95% CI [-0.56, -2.63]; p=0.005; d=1.428). Results demonstrate that yoga and positive education mutually enhance university students' mental health variables both in an immediate and prolonged manner. This study will help inform future implementation of positive education courses and/or health promotion efforts on campuses.

Acknowledgments: Many thanks to my supervisor Dr. Fortier and co-supervisor Olivia Pastore for providing me with support throughout the research process. I am a better researcher today thanks to you both.