Although girls of color are often present as research subjects in emerging studies on the influence of yoga and meditation in K-12 settings, they receive little theoretical attention or empirical investigations about how about their social intersections (i.e. race and class) might be relevant to understanding their experiences in school and how yoga may or may not benefit them. Notions of stress, resilience, anxiety, depression, self-regulation and other areas that yoga researchers study are often thought of as uniform experiences for all students. Exploration of racial and gender disparities in schools has widely documented that girls of color experience forms of surveillance, discipline and punishment that differ from adolescent white girls and/or boys of color in schools. Thus, it is useful to probe more thoroughly if and how these differences may complicate yoga interventions.
This chapter focuses on the preliminary findings of a study involving 45 girls of color who participated in a six-week yoga and meditation intervention in an afterschool program targeting academically and behaviorally marginalized middle school students. Girls of color in the intervention overall fared better than girls of color in the control group in increasing mindful awareness, decreasing anxiety, and increasing the ability to self-regulate. Despite these encouraging empirical results, the author argues that without attention to the ways that overlapping oppressions including race, gender and class impact girls of color, yoga research in K-12 schools may inadvertently replicate ways that girls’ of color experiences are ignored, minimized or made invisible.