Are you a social work yogi? Recent studies show that pairing a mindful movement program with your social justice efforts could be effective.
Graduate School of Social Service Assistant Professor Derek Tice-Brown, Ph.D., recently published an article in the Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics titled, “‘It helped, the mindfulness, … so let me help’: High School Students Developing Social Work Values Through Yoga.”
The article “reports on a qualitative study that examined how a mindful movement program based on yoga philosophy helped to affect cognitive processes that are compatible to social work values.”
As part of their findings, Tice-Brown and his co-authors wrote:
“These results support past findings that yoga practices help to promote positive outcomes in adolescents in many areas. Students spoke about how they learned how to relax, manage stress, and self-regulate through this program. These findings are similar to those of Wang and Hagins (2016), who also conducted focus groups with urban high school students about the effects of a yoga-based program. Another finding of our study, increased connections with and sense of responsibility for others, was also a main theme found by past researchers (Conboy et al., 2013). As theorized by Kohlberg (1976), this movement towards decreased self-centeredness is critical to moral development and to working for social justice.
“Because these students were able to strengthen both their own relationships and connections to others, they were also able to see the need for social change and social action. This is suggestive of their understanding of relationships and of redistribution, in that there is some sense of equity and fairness. Some theories of justice suggest that justice is the calculation of who owes whom what and how much (Gasker & Fischer, 2014); however, there is also the concept of distributive justice, or allocation of resources (Reamer, 2018). Study participants recognized the need for distributive justice by understanding the need to reallocate resources to others who were in need. This might also be the beginning of the transformation from rational egoism, which is when a person is always acting in his or her selfinterest, to altruism, which is doing an act for others in which one has no stake or claim (Pandya, 2017).”