GSU to study yoga’s impact on juvenile offenders

Researchers at Georgia State University’s school of public health will launch a study on the effectiveness of yoga and mindfulness in juvenile justice facilities.

The researchers hope to see whether their new program can provide young offenders with coping skills, and reduce the chances of them re-offending after they leave.

According to the school, the National Institutes of Health gave GSU a $700,000 grant for the three-year project. 

The principal investigator, Dr. Ashli Owen-Smith, intends to modify classes that already exist in the facilities in order to specifically serve young offenders who have experienced trauma.

Yoga has a checkered history in Georgia.  Its popularity among adult women has exploded, and it is now being taught in some schools as a stress relieving physical activity. 

Last year, however, Bullard Elementary School in Cobb County saw an uproar among some parents who objected.  They were concerned about the non-Christian roots of yoga in Asia, and protested that it was a religious practice.  In response, the school agreed that the yoga students there would no longer close with the traditional Sanskrit greeting of “Namaste,” which often has a spiritual element, or put their hands in front of their hearts.

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