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Yoga-nidra and Hypnosis

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Trance states have long been used within a healing context in India. The use of chant, evocation of trance through ritual, and altered states achieved through meditation has been a means for self-realization, psychological well-being, and increasing health. In- digenous psychologies have elucidated various types of states of consciousness. Folk healing traditions often utilize trance as a means to invoke health, and exist concurrently with modern, western forms of psychiatry and psychotherapy. Comparisons have been made between techniques such the western modality of hypnosis and meditation and yoga. Yoga-nidra (the yoga of sleep) is one of these practices. It is similar to hypnosis and other techniques of mind-body methods of healing used in psychotherapy. Yoga-ni- dra has been introduced as a contemporary, systematic process of healing by various schools of yoga, both on the subcontinent and in Western countries. These methods are purportedly developed from ancient yogic texts. This article will provide an overview of yoga-nidra, both its origins and current form of practice, as well as a short review of the literature on its ef cacy. It will be compared to hypnosis, a systematic, mind-body, trance-inducing technique, used as an adjunct with western forms of psychotherapy. Suggestions will be presented for using these modalities to integrate indigenous con- cepts of spirituality and psychology and the western models of mental health delivery in contemporary India, and populations of Indian cultural origin living abroad.
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Yoga-nidra and hypnosis
Scott Hoye & Svathi Reddy
To cite this article: Scott Hoye & Svathi Reddy (2016) Yoga-nidra and hypnosis,
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International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 2016
Vol. 54, No. 3, 117–125,
© 2016 Institute of Health Promotion and Education
Yoga-nidra and hypnosis
Scott Hoyea,b* and Svathi Reddyc
aCenter for Pain Management, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; bDepartment
of Clinical Psychology, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, IL, USA; cLead
Psychiatrist, Compass Psychiatry LLC, 1640 Powers Ferry Rd Se, Building 17, Suite 100, Marietta,
(Received 09 September 2013; accepted 21 October 2015)
Trance states have long been used within a healing context in India. The use of chant,
evocation of trance through ritual, and altered states achieved through meditation has
been a means for self-realization, psychological well-being, and increasing health. In-
digenous psychologies have elucidated various types of states of consciousness. Folk
healing traditions often utilize trance as a means to invoke health, and exist concurrently
with modern, western forms of psychiatry and psychotherapy. Comparisons have been
made between techniques such the western modality of hypnosis and meditation and
yoga. Yoga-nidra (the yoga of sleep) is one of these practices. It is similar to hypnosis
and other techniques of mind-body methods of healing used in psychotherapy. Yoga-ni-
dra has been introduced as a contemporary, systematic process of healing by various
schools of yoga, both on the subcontinent and in Western countries. These methods are
purportedly developed from ancient yogic texts. This article will provide an overview
of yoga-nidra, both its origins and current form of practice, as well as a short review of
the literature on its efcacy. It will be compared to hypnosis, a systematic, mind-body,
trance-inducing technique, used as an adjunct with western forms of psychotherapy.
Suggestions will be presented for using these modalities to integrate indigenous con-
cepts of spirituality and psychology and the western models of mental health delivery in
contemporary India, and populations of Indian cultural origin living abroad.
Keywords: yoga-nidra; hypnosis; meditation; psychotherapy; India
Indigenous healing practices in India utilize altered states as a means to facilitate healing
(Campion and Bughra 1998). The transmission of the spontaneous, hypnotic-like state of
samadhi has been attributed to gurus, such as Ramakrishna and Neeb Karori Baba (Shar-
ma 1981; Pande 2003). Meditation and yoga, practices considered similar to hypnosis and
other western, mind-body techniques, are described from antiquity (Hovec 1975; Ham-
mond 2013). Yoga and meditation are still among the main healing modalities sought in
contemporary India, along with talismanic cures, exorcisms, ayurvedic medicines, and mu-
sic, despite western paradigms of mental health being practiced there for approximately
100 years (Prasadarao and Sudhir 2001; Blanche 2004; Hogan and Vaccaro 2007). Hypno-
sis is a well-known technique of eliciting trance states that has its origins in Europe, and
has been used therapeutically for at least 400 years (Hammond 2013). Franz Anton Mes-
mer is generally acknowledged as the progenitor of hypnosis, though similar techniques
are attributed to ancient Greek and Egyptian sleep temples. Paracelsus developed a theory
of magnetism predating Mesmer’s, and he is believed to have studied ritual healing, in part
*Corresponding author. Email:
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118 S. Hoye and S. Reddy
from traveling to India (Hammond 2013). A considerable body of evidence regarding its
efcacy is apparent (Mendoza and Capafonz 2009; Barabasz et al. 2010). Similar to hyp-
nosis in some respects is yoga-nidra.
Yoga-nidra is a meditative practice that reportedly dates to antiquity (Panda 2003; Parker,
Bharati, and Fernandez 2013). References to yoga-nidra are considered implied in descrip-
tions of the god Vishnu in classical Hindu prayers (Panda 2003). Descriptions in ancient
texts are generally considered to be vague, and describe the state obtained by the practi-
tioner, rather than the process (Parker, Bharati, and Fernandez 2013). Traditions associated
with yoga-nidra, or describing similar states of consciousness through meditative practice,
are Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Kashmiri Shaivism, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, and
Shankaracharya’s Yoga Taravali (Parker, Bharati, and Fernandez 2013). Contemporary de-
scriptions equate it with a kind of lucid dream state, in which dream imagery takes place
for the practitioner, but they do not identify or become attached to them, but remain an ob-
jective observer (Miller 2005). Swami Satyananda Saraswati, founder of the Bihar School
of Yoga, is credited with the current popularization of yoga-nidra (Panda; Henry 2005;
Parker, Bharati, and Fernandez 2013).
Parker, Bharati, and Fernandez (2013) report that several studies have referred to
relaxation and guided imagery techniques as yoga-nidra, and call for an operationaliza-
tion based on physiological markers; i.e. EEG readings of brainwaves produced by the
practitioner during meditation. They equate yoga-nidra as corresponding to the dreamless
sleep cycle of the brain, or non-activity of the mind (manas) and equate Delta brainwaves
as a neurological indicator for having achieved the state. These researchers describe the
above-mentioned Bihar School techniques, or Miller’s IRest program (1995) as merely
relaxation techniques, not yoga-nidra because studies facilitated with them indicated sub-
jects only produced Alpha and Theta waves and not the slower Delta waves. Nonetheless,
for the purpose of this paper, the Bihar School method will be referenced in this article due
to its clearly systematic method and its popularity and inuence on yoga-nidra practice in
India and abroad.
Yoga-nidra practice consists of the practitioner lying supine on the oor, and focusing
on body parts, breath awareness, and suggested imagery (Panda 2003). Eight stages are in-
dicated: (1) Preparation, (2) Relaxation, (3) Resolve, (4) Rapid Shifting of Consciousness,
(5) Mental Channel Purication, and (6) Moving Visualization of Scenarios, (7) Resolve
(repetition), and (8) Finish.
Preparation consists of settling the body into the corpse pose (savasna), and focusing
intention to practice without losing consciousness while remaining still (Panda 2003). Re-
laxation consists of relaxing the body via various breath exercises (pranayams), with or
without the use of mantras. Resolve elicits the sankalpa or intention; a kind of autosugges-
tion to be placed in the practitioner’s unconscious as a ‘seed in the mind.’ Rapid Shifting of
Consciousness includes the process of External Rotation of Consciousness. This is similar
to a body scan technique used in Buddhist mindfulness and relaxation where the individual
places their attention in various parts of the body. However, it is also done more swiftly
compared to the mindfulness meditation practice. Internal Rotation of Consciousness fo-
cuses on suggestions for visualizing chakras or energy vortices within the subtle or etheric
body. It is the internal balance of focus on the external and internal, imaginal body. Men-
tal Channel Purication includes the use of reverse counting while imagining breathing
through opposite nostrils. Moving Visualization of Scenarios consists of the visualization
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International Journal of Health Promotion and Education 119
of religious and nature images. Panda (2003) states that the rotation of consciousness, or
nyasa, is a tantric technique extrapolated from earlier methods of meditation by Saraswati.
It is used to bring about a state ‘… which is neither awake nor sleeping. In yoga-nidra the
yogi stays somewhere between the waking and the sleeping states …’ (Panda 2003, 271).
Yoga-nidra & hypnosis
Contemporary practice of yoga-nidra has some similarities to modern hypnotic and classi-
cal hypnotic techniques. These are not unlike those discerned between mindfulness medi-
tation and hypnosis as adapted for psychotherapeutic uses (Yapko 2010).
The administration of yoga-nidra is often provided by an instructor or yogi, and can
also be performed in an autohypnosis fashion (Panda 2003). As with hypnotic suggestions,
instructions for yoga-nidra practice are provided with the subject/recipient’s eyes closed,
and with an inner focus of awareness. Hypnotic induction, however, often includes formal
or informal testing for hypnotizability, and use of ratication techniques, such as arm levi-
tation, catalepsy, and time distortion (Yapko 2003). Ratication is used in hypnosis to cre-
ate awareness that the hypnotic state is special, and thus act as a convincer for the subject
as having entered into it. It demarcates a more intensied liminal space for healing than
psychotherapy; the boundaries between the therapist and the patient are further removed
from the typical, psychotherapeutic environment, and the therapist participates more in-
tensely in the patient’s phenomenological eld. Yoga-nidra operates within the realm of an
indigenous spirituality and psychology, for those born into or adhering to a Hindu cultural
or spiritual paradigm. Phenomena that can be labeled hypnotic, such as time distortion,
primary process imagery, dream imagery, and catalepsy may take place, but are not neces-
sarily utilized as a convincer for ratication of the special, meditative state (Bowers 1978;
Yapko 2003). The special quality of awareness evoked is held as an a priori, cultural, and
spiritual assumption within the context of the procedure.
The yoga-nidra practice of sankapla, or resolution before and after the exercise, is
similar to a post-hypnotic suggestion. However, one chooses the resolution on one’s own,
rather than with the help of an operator or therapist giving the suggestions (Panda 2003).
The mind is xed on a thought or willed resolution that is planted and cultivated at the
beginning and end of the meditation. Hypnotic suggestions are typically delivered by an
outside source, and there is an attempt to bypass the conscious mind and implant them in
the unconscious (Yapko 2003). Yoga-nidra differs in that amnesia and other hypnotic phe-
nomena may be apparent, but the practitioner attempts to remain alert with non-attachment
to any imagery, sensations, or experiences (Panda 2003).
This cultivation of awareness is described as a means to produce a witness state of
consciousness, between waking consciousness, jagrata, and dream consciousness, svapna
(Panda 2003; Henry 2005). Panda makes a connection between this and Ernest Hilgard’s
idea of the hidden observer in the neo-dissociation theory of hypnosis. The hidden observ-
er is considered be a part of the psyche that is consistently aware, regardless of the level of
conscious control of the subject. Panda states that they are one in the same.
The rst author (SH) has had the experience of working with guided imagery tech-
niques, mindfulness-meditation, and extensive use of hypnosis in clinical practice, as well
as personal use. I have also used a Bihar School variant of yoga-nidra (Janakananda 2012).
My experience is that yoga-nidra differs from the former techniques, especially hypnosis,
in that suggestions for rotation of consciousness and imagery, as mentioned above, are
given quickly. This swift attentional function does indeed have a tendency to keep the prac-
titioner more alert through various internal experiences. In hypnosis, the opposite is often
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120 S. Hoye and S. Reddy
produced. Various techniques, such as fractionation (brief re-alerting and re-entrance to
the trance state) and pauses in the hypnotic induction are a means for deepening the sense
of trance, and the conscious mind of the patient is bypassed precisely to inuence uncon-
scious cognitive sets and inuence behavior (Erickson, Rossi, and Rossi 1976; Erickson
and Rossi 1989).
Research on yoga-nidra
Several psychological and physiological cures are attributed to yoga-nidra (Panda 2003).
Among the ailments it is described as having curative factors for sleep disorders, anger
management, obsessive-compulsive disorder, various digestive disorders, such as colitis
and peptic ulcers, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia, and immune
system function (Panda 2003). These claims are not entirely ascertained, and appear to
be largely anecdotal at this point. But a small body of literature suggests generally efca-
cious results for some ailments, and some indications of yoga-nidra’s physiological effects.
These include of the impact of yoga-nidra on stress and anxiety (Kumar 2008); increasing
alpha output on electroencephalograph and galvanic skin response measurement (Kumar
and Joshi 2009); the reduction of illness-related stress in multiple sclerosis and cancer
outpatients (Pritchard, Elison-Bowers, and Birdsall 2009); reduction of menstrual-related
difculties (Rani et al. 2013); inammation reduction (Kumar and Panya 2012); and posi-
tive effects on heart rate variability (Markil et al. 2012). The ndings are promising, but in
the early stages of investigation, and further, more robust studies need to be conducted to
provide stronger evidence of its efcacy and effectiveness.
Hypnosis in India
Hypnosis as a therapeutic and medical modality is no stranger to India. Esdaile introduced
Mesmerism to the subcontinent in his use of it as an analgesic in surgery, and, as stated
earlier, hypnosis may have some historic connections to India via Paracelsus (Hammond
2013). A survey of websites and a discussion with a master’s level psychotherapist who
resides in Mumbai for this article indicated that many lay hypnosis institutes provide train-
ings, and are often a clinician’s rst contact with it. The practitioner, who chose to remain
anonymous (personal communication with the rst author (SH) of this paper, 12 December
2010), discussed their general training from a lay-hypnosis organization loosely afliated
with a similar organization in the USA. This included various basic hypnotic techniques,
and Neurolinguistic Programming techniques (Hall and Belnap 2000), integrated with
cognitive-behavioral therapy. These techniques are similar to those taught in professional
societies in the USA, which are responsible for consistent, scientically sound trainings
(Hammond and Elkins 2005). Indeed, the rst author (SH) has attended lay hypnosis train-
ings in the USA, as well as those offered by the professional societies, and served as faculty
for professional societies. I am of the opinion that they are remarkably similar in content
for preparation of practice, and have found that many lay hypnotists are quite competent
technically, and as limited clinicians. However, there is a lack of scientic rigor, and no
real repercussions for any potential ethical deviances by lay hypnotists, nor protection of
the general public from potential negligence or malecence. Licensed or degreed mental
health professionals offer some training courses to clinicians in India. The Indian Society
of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, a component section of the International Society
for Hypnosis (2009), offers conferences and training. But psychotherapy largely goes un-
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International Journal of Health Promotion and Education 121
regulated, even with an ofcial licensing board (Hogan and Vaccaro 2007), and there is no
regulation of the practice of hypnosis India.
Mental health care in India
Mental health services in the subcontinent are primarily offered in urban areas, with larger
populations. However, most of the population of the subcontinent still live in towns and
villages outside of the major urban areas (Chatterjee 2009). It is largely due to this that
mental health services in India are lacking (Chatterjee 2009). This is in spite of the intro-
duction of community psychology in the 1970s and 1980s and over 100 clinical psycholo-
gy departments (Prasadarao and Sudhir 2001; Bhatia and Sethi 2007; Hogan and Vaccaro
2007; Chatterjee 2009). The majority of the population does not have access to counseling
and psychotherapy services. A very small portion of the westernized population in urban
areas that may be amenable to them actually uses them (Laungani 2004). There is a move-
ment to foster professionalism in psychology, but many individuals practice unlicensed,
and without degrees (Hogan and Vaccaro 2007).
Western psychology in India
Psychology is in many ways a foreign concept in India, despite its academic and clinical
presence for more than 100 years (Laungani 2004). Indian culture, by and large, has been
dominated by a sense of inferiority since colonization by the British, and western modes
of science and philosophy were upheld as superior to indigenous ways (Sinha 1994; Pras-
adarao and Sudhir 2001; Bhatia 2002; Blanche 2004; Laungani 2004; Hogan and Vaccaro
2007). Nonetheless, they are still practiced throughout much of the country. Some psy-
chologists have attempted to recreate or cross-pollenate western psychology with Hin-
du ideas that were indigenous to the subcontinent, giving rise to Indian Psychology (IP)
(Sinha 1994; Bhatia 2002; Laungani 2004). However, there is still little academic and clin-
ical acceptance of IP in India, and most practitioners continue to use Western paradigms of
mental health and dysfunction for the provision of services (Bhatia 2002).
The disparity between rural and metropolitan India is not just economic, but also cul-
tural (Laungani 2004). Rural India has been less Westernized, and provision of therapy
needs to be delivered in a culturally specic manner. This poses a problem, as most ther-
apists in India prefer western models. Training supervisors generally frown upon the use
of existing models of indigenous Indian therapies (Van Hoecke 2006). Wig (1999) used
the analogy ‘Indian Made Foreign Doctor’ to describe the perceived conundrum that faces
university-trained psychiatrists when they enter work in communities after medical school.
Laungani (1997, 2004) was critically aware of how training in western models of psycho-
therapy causes south Asian clinicians to adopt this paradigm, and to superimpose a Western
perspective on the collectivist and spiritual paradigm they have been raised in. Specically,
Western modes of psychotherapy and counseling are at odds with the native models of
therapies and healing. Typically an expert is sought with instructions for a cure, not a hori-
zontal relationship with a therapist more typical in Western models.
From a reverse perspective, i.e. culturally Indian patients in the US seeking treatment,
we also see the impact of interacting with a cultural divide. The second author (SR) has
found that the lack of the Western practitioner’s knowledge of cultural issues can create a
divide between patient and practitioner. In considering factors inuencing patient decisions
in seeking treatment as well as compliance to treatment, one must take into consideration
the issues related to feelings of guilt vs. shame regarding the illness, the opinion of a larger
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122 S. Hoye and S. Reddy
family structure, and reliance on ceremony/ritual, be it religious or simply a part of the
family cultural lore. The interface of Western medicine and more traditional methods is a
crucial piece in accessing this population. Attending to these issues translates into utilizing
the extended family and members of the community, and potentially enhancing the provi-
sion of services to the patient.
Cross-cultural issues often play into the inadequacy of the now usual ‘medication
check’ approach to treatment in psychiatry. A more complex approach that integrates more
ceremonial or physically palpable techniques is required. For example, giving a more rit-
ualistic type of regimen (i.e. breathing techniques, visualization exercises, and prescribed
exercises) in addition to medication can be perceived as more valuable.
Many of my (SR’s) patients present with more somatic complaints, or somatic meta-
phors of psychic pain. Two examples are of patients with conversion disorder; young, new-
ly married Indian females from lower middle class upbringing. Their presented complaints
are faintness, dizziness, and odd descriptions of symptoms like ‘tongue keeps clicking in
mouth’ or ‘prickly sensation in head.’ The description of anxiety was teased out from ini-
tial descriptions of ‘something trying to get out of the head,’ or ‘heavy feeling in the heart/
chest.’ They clutched the symptomatic area as though the sensation was physical. With
these patients, a concrete method of asking them to place right hand over heart and left
hand over the belly and do breathing exercises in through nose, was more helpful, and they
were compliant. Patients of more ‘American’ background, having been more assimilated
into the dominant culture, are more apt to turn to medication. I (SR) often have to spend
quite some time convincing Indian patients that a medication is likely indicated. On multi-
ple occasions, they have only utilized the relaxation techniques.
Another technique these patients seem open to use for insomnia is what I call a ‘touch-
stone.’ For example, the patient will place one palm on the headboard while lying in bed
and allow their mind to wander to a place they register as safe and calming. I often give
them the personal example of my own, that I would imagine I am in the bed I had in med-
ical school in my apartment and I could hear ocean waves. This use of imagery for a psy-
chiatric condition points to potential integration of yoga-nidra into Western medicine for
this population. Yoga-nidra’s ceremonial, Indian approach could be more readily adapted.
This brief overview of psychology and delivery of mental health in India points to a need
for integration of indigenous and Western models of healing to best meet the needs for a
Hindu population. Since both yoga-nidra and hypnosis are taught and utilized in India, it
would appear apropos to call for their further integration. Yoga-nidra is consistent with the
goals and aspirations of IP in that it draws from Hindu spirituality and psychology. The
similarities between the two should be further explored, and an understanding and practice
of both could inform clinical and research efforts.
The Hindu concepts of mind and spirit are readily adaptable to psychotherapy for their
emphasis on altering consciousness for healing. The systematic yoga-nidra practice from
the Bihar school displays commonalities with clinical hypnosis, mindfulness meditation,
guided imagery, and relaxation training. The study of yoga-nidra may inform the practice
of Western forms of psychotherapy. It is important that other systems of yoga-nidra be
further studied and considered for integration into practice. Continued study of the physi-
ological state elicited by yoga-nidra practice could add to the greater operationalization of
this meditative state from an empirical perspective (Parker, Bharati, and Fernandez 2013).
Further efcacy studies of yoga-nidra can help to bridge the gap between Western and in-
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International Journal of Health Promotion and Education 123
digenous Indian systems of healing, and add support for it as a system of healing. Training
programs, run by clinical faculty, for both yoga-nidra and hypnosis could provide standard-
ized, evidence-based, training and practice. This could potentially add more respect from
academic circles for, and further application of IP within the subcontinent, and as a means
to work cross culturally with the immigrant Indian populations in other countries.
A specic application of yoga-nidra integration with Western psychiatry could poten-
tially be with transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression (TMS) (George et al. 1999).
TMS therapy is an FDA-approved treatment that uses direct electromagnetic stimulation
to areas of the brain that are hypoactive in depression. The patients must remain awake
for the 37 min of treatment and they preferably need to do something that is engaging the
brain in a positive, uplifting manner. Yoga-nidra training with or without the integration
of hypnosis as a pre-procedure could provide this, especially with patients from the Indian
It should not be forgotten that yoga-nidra is foremost a spiritual practice. It is impor-
tant to keep from providing a merely reductionist approach to it, as has happened in many
respects to the use of Eastern methods of mind/body healing in the Western paradigm
(Goldberg 2010). Keeping this in mind while proceeding with the previously mentioned
suggestions can perhaps add more of a means for spiritual growth as well; a potential end-
game in long-term psychotherapy as opposed to mere symptom removal.
India is a pluralistic society. The Hindu faith, though the majority, is only one of several
religious and cultural paradigms mental health providers interact with. It is hoped that other
suggestions for psychotherapy integration can be envisioned for Moslem, Jain, Buddhist,
and other belief systems. Finding further commonalities may well be a step in providing
a better understanding of mental health concepts across cultures and spiritual paradigms.
This article also brings into focus India’s rich tradition of spiritual science that the west
has beneted from, and continues to do so in many ways. Western scientic paradigms
are, in many ways, still in their infancy by comparison. A best-case scenario would be to
cultivate a ‘mutual admiration society,’ where both Western and Eastern cultures marvel at
their differing perspectives, rather than scenarios of Westernization supplanting indigenous
perspectives (Watters 2010). In the worst-case scenario, India would continue to hold its
cultural, philosophical, and spiritual history in lower esteem, and Western science as a pin-
nacle of intellect and achievement. If Indian mental health practitioners continue with hy-
bridization of indigenous conceptions of yoga and spirituality with Western psychology, it
may not only bolster India’s sense of self-understanding as a culture, but also assist individ-
uals and families on its own, and other shores. Seeking further commonalities between the
techniques of yoga-nidra and hypnosis may yield continued, benecial results in this area.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Scott Hoye http:\\
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... Within the scientific literature, at present yoga nidra is intended as the ability to gain awareness of presleep stages (e.g., hypnagogic state), retaining consciousness of both inner and outer worlds without falling asleep. Nidra tradition stems mainly from Hindu spirituality 5,6 and from Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, 7 but scant scriptures characterize the practice. At present, a clear definition of yoga nidra is still lacking, as is a distinction between the formal practice of nidra and the nidra state itself 7 : This problem also has to be faced when dealing with other meditation practices (in particular with "mindfulness" 8 ). ...
... Unlike other yoga traditions involving different positions (asana), yoga nidra is mainly performed lying in the supine position (savasana), keeping the eyes closed and paying attention to the teacher's verbal instruction. 6 A "mode r n i ze d" version of yoga nidra was popularized by Satyananda Saraswati, from the Bihar School of Yoga. 9 This perspective divides nidra practice into five phases: (1) setting a specific intention; (2) external rotation of consciousness, similar to a body scan, during which the meditator moves the attention to specific parts of the body; (3) internal rotation of consciousness, during which the meditator focuses the attention on subtle energy flows, such as nadis and chakras; (4) breath awareness and breath counting; and (5) guided visual imagery. ...
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Nidrâ yoga is an ancient yogic practice capable of inducing altered states of consciousness characterized by deep relaxation, strong concentration, acute self-awareness, and joy. In modern contemplative neuroscience language, it is known by the name yoga nidra, and few studies have investigated its phenomenological and psychophysiological effects. Six healthy volunteers (four females aged 31–74) performed 12 yoga nidra sessions guided by an expert during a 6-day retreat. Each session consisted of 10 minutes in a resting state (baseline) followed by 2 hours of yoga nidra. Psychometric data regarding dissociative experiences (Clinician Administered Dissociative States Scale) and the state of consciousness (Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory) were collected after baseline and yoga nidra, while high-density EEG was recorded during the entire session. During nidra sessions, no sleep hallmarks (i.e., K-complexes and sleep spindles) were detected by the EEG in any subject. Psychometric data we re analyzed using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test corrected with the false discovery rate approach for multiple comparisons. Compared to baseline, yoga nidra practice was related to: (1) increased dissociative effects (p = 0.022); (2) perception of being in an altered state of consciousness (p = 0.026); (3) alterations in perceived body image (p = 0.022); (4) increased “meaningfulness” attributed to the experience (p = 0.026); (5) reduced rational thinking (p = 0.029); and (6) reduced volitional thought control (p = 0.026). First-person experience is discussed in relation to descriptive EEG power spectral density analysis, which was performed in one subject because of severe EEG artifacts in the other recordings; that subject showed, compared to baseline: (1) early increase of alpha and beta power, followed by a progressive widespread reduction; (2) widespread early increase of theta power, followed by a progressive reduction; and (3) widespread increase of gamma power in the latest stages. The present preliminary results enrich the knowledge of yoga nidra, elucidating its phenomenology and suggesting some psychophysiological correlates that future studies may address.
... However, this is still debatable, especially when we consider the Hindu tradition of spiritual sleep: Yoga Nidra. Contemporary texts consider Yoga Nidra a kind of LD state, in which dream imagery takes place for the practitioner, who do not identify or become attached to them, remaining as an objective observer (Miller, 2005;Hoye and Reddy, 2016). ...
... However, this is still debatable, especially when we consider the Hindu tradition of spiritual sleep: Yoga Nidra. Contemporary texts consider Yoga Nidra a kind of LD state, in which dream imagery takes place for the practitioner, who do not identify or become attached to them, remaining as an objective observer (Miller, 2005;Hoye and Reddy, 2016). ...
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Lucid dreaming (LD) began to be scientifically studied in the last century, but various religions have highlighted the importance of LD in their doctrines for a much longer period. Hindus’ manuscripts dating back over 2,000 years ago, for example, divide consciousness in waking, dreaming (including LD), and deep sleep. In the Buddhist tradition, Tibetan monks have been practicing the “Dream Yoga,” a meditation technique that instructs dreamers to recognize the dream, overcome all fears when lucid, and control the oneiric content. In the Islamic sacred scriptures, LD is regarded as a mental state of great value, and a special way for the initiated to reach mystical experiences. The Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD) mentions LD as a kind of preview of the afterlife, when the soul separates from the body. In the nineteenth century, some branches of the Spiritism religion argue that LD precedes out-of-body experiences during sleep. Here we reviewed how these religions interpret dreams, LD and other conscious states during sleep. We observed that while Abrahamic monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) recognize dreams as a way to communicate with God to understand the present and predict the future, the traditional Indian religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) are more engaged in cultivating self-awareness, thus developed specific techniques to induce LD and witnessing sleep. Teachings from religious traditions around the world offer important insights for scientific researchers today who want to understand the full range of LD phenomenology as it has emerged through history.
Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the effects produced by yoga nidra and relaxation music for pain management in patients undergoing colonoscopy. A quasiexperimental design was used. Methods: In total, 144 patients who were scheduled to undergo colonoscopy were assigned to three different treatment groups. Group 1 was a no treatment control group, group 2 was delivered relaxing music, and group 3 was delivered a yoga nidra recording. The primary outcome was pain score. Secondary treatment efficacy measures were an overall patient satisfaction score, a willingness to repeat the procedure score, and a perceived colonoscope insertion difficulty score. Secondary objective treatment effect measures were systolic and diastolic blood pressure and total procedure duration. Results: The patients' perceptions of pain and the endoscopist's perceived colonoscope insertion difficulty were significantly reduced by both the music and the yoga nidra recording (p < .05). Overall patient satisfaction was significantly improved by both the music and the yoga nidra recording (p < .05). Patients' willingness to repeat the procedure and the total procedure duration were significantly improved and reduced, respectively, by the yoga nidra recording (p < .05), but there were no significant differences compared to the music group. There were no statistically significant differences among the three groups in terms of blood pressure. Conclusions: Both the yoga nidra recording and the relaxation music helped reduce the pain participants undergoing colonoscopy experienced. The yoga nidra recording was the most successful intervention among the three groups.
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Stress is a cognitive or emotional response made by the individual towards any situation, which demands adjustment. When the demands of the situation exceed the ability of the individual distress results, which may manifest in mental and physical symptoms of abnormality. The practice of Yoga nidra helps in building up the coping ability. The practitioner of Yoga nidra slowly becomes aware of the inherent dormant potentialities and thus prevents himself from becoming a victim of distress. As well as relaxation of yoga nidra relaxes the physical as well as mental stresses as it relaxes the whole nervous system. Stress-related disorders evolve gradually through four stages. In the first stage, psychological symptoms like anxiety and irritability arise due to over activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Yoga nidra can be consider as a highly effective practice for reducing stress on the basis of the present study as Yoga nidra releases the stress of the students of higher classes. Practice of Yoga Nidra also reduces the Anxiety of male and female subjects both. It may have positive results for the other age groups and occupations also.
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A review of the history of hypnosis through the late 19th century is provided in this article. The author offers an important review for practitioners of hypnosis preparing to take diplomate board examinations. Clinicians will also be enabled to trace the evolution of clinical methods, principles, and techniques.
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The term yoga-nidra has been used in many empirical studies to refer to relaxation and guided imagery. These techniques do not represent the intention or physiological correlates of yoganidra discussed in the traditional yoga literature. We propose an operational definition of yoga-nidra that is supported by several physiologically testable hypotheses regarding its outcomes and effects. Traditional descriptions of yoga-nidra and contemporary accounts of its practice are reviewed, and studies examining the physiological correlates of yoga-nidra are examined. Proposed hypotheses for future research using this operational definition are provided.
For three decades, Trancework has been the fundamental textbook for guiding professionals in learning hypnosis. Now in its fourth edition, this classic text continues to be the most comprehensive book for learning the fundamental skills of the field. This edition accommodates new studies and topics, and contains five new chapters on positive psychology, the management of pain, pediatric and adolescent hypnosis, behavioral medicine, and hypnosis across modalities. Readers can expect to receive a comprehensive overview of what is currently going on in the domain of hypnosis, an in-depth consideration of issues associated with the use of hypnosis, a greater appreciation for the diverse ways in which hypnosis can be applied, and a more detailed description of hypnotic methods and characteristics. Those new to the field will also appreciate the “Frames of Reference” sections found throughout the book, which provide insights into the work of some of the founders and leaders of clinical hypnosis. Each chapter concludes with suggestions from the author for things to consider and things to do, further emphasizing the importance of active learning. Included online at is the video of Dr. Yapko’s session with Vicki, an emotionally powerful and technically excellent session. For those who wish to follow along, a PDF download containing the session transcript is also available. Clinical Hypnosis has the power to change clients’ lives for the better. Trancework gives professionals the skills to do just that.
Scientific Psychology in India has seen steady development since its inception in the early 1900s. With clinical psychology developing as an independent profession, clinical psychologists have been functioning in various roles, offering a wide range of services in consultation, training, research, and private practice on multidisciplinary teams as well as in independent practice. This paper focuses on the historical roots of clinical psychology in India and highlights the role of clinical psychologists in the general mental health care and the contributions made by the profession in a wide range of public and private health care settings. Ancient Indian systems of Medicine, mental health care and psychotherapy in India, and training-related and organizational issues are discussed. This paper reflects on the growth and development of clinical psychology that has occurred in India in spite of current difficulties and the challenges that lie ahead.
Long before the advent of scientific psychology in the West, India, like most countries of the developing world, had its own religious and metaphysical systems that contained elaborate theories about human nature, actions, personality, and interrelationships with the world. Though they constituted a vast storehouse of psychological knowledge, it consisted largely of intuitions of seers, speculations, and often contained elements that were mysterious and even at times esoteric. Modem methods of controlled observation and experimentation did not have a place, and it was not “scientific” in the strict sense of the term (Sinha, 1965). However, the intellectual soil for the growth of psychology was there. But the kind of psychology that was transplanted to India as a part of the total imperialistic domination of the West came as a ready-made intellectual package ill the first decade of the century (Nandy, 1974, p. 7), and replaced almost wholesale the intellectual traditions and indigenous systems that had existed for thousands of years.
Models of psychotherapies and counselling do not develop in a social vacuum. They arise out of and rest on several fundamental assumptions-social, linguistic and cultural-most which are understood and shared by the client group and the therapists andor counsellors. The extent to which there is a congruence of shared assumptions facilitates the process of counselling and/or therapy. It does not, however, guarantee its successful outcome. This paper examines the fundamental assumptions underlying client-centred counselling and argues that there is at present a lack of correspondence between the assumptions of the counsellors and those of their client groups-even within their own culture. But among the client groups comprising the ethnic minorities originating from the Indian subcontinent, there is a wide chasm. The clients do not understand or share the fundamental assumptions of their counsellors. As a result, client-centred counselling is irrelevant and does not serve the needs of the clients groups comprising the ethnic minorities. It is in urgent need of a paradigm shaft. It is argued that client-centred therapy needs to be replaced by culture-centred counselling, in which counsellors can be trained. The paper presents the main features of a model of counselling that is applicable not only to the white indigenous population in Britain but to the above ethnic minorities living in Britain.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to observe the effect of Yoga Nidra practice on hormone levels in patients who had menstrual irregularities. Design: The study was a randomized controlled trial. Settings/location: The study was conducted in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, India. SUBJECTS were divided randomly into 2 groups-an intervention and a control group, with 75 subjects in each group. Of these subjects, 126 completed the study protocol. Subjects: This study involved 150 subjects with menstrual irregularities; 126 of whom completed the protocol. Interventions: The intervention was the practice of Yoga Nidra. The yogic intervention duration was 35-40 minutes/day, five times/week for 6 months. An estimation of hormonal profile was done for both groups at baseline and after 6 months. Results: Thyroid-stimulating hormone (p<0.002), follicle-stimulating hormone (p<0.02), luteinizing hormone (p<0.001), and prolactin (p<0.02) were decreased significantly in the intervention group, compared with the control group. Conclusions: The present study demonstrated the efficacy of Yoga Nidra on hormone profiles in patients with menstrual irregularities. Yoga Nidra practice was helpful in patients with hormone imbalances, such as dysmenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, and hypomenorrhea.
In a follow-up to an earlier study we decided to interview a number of religious healers and ascertain their views on mental illness. A sample of ten healers—Hindu, Muslim and Christian—were interviewed at length. In addition, five sites of healing were visited and various religious rituals observed. The general emphasis in care is on a pluralistic holistic approach and individual healers have several models of mental illness in their repertoire. The shrines are virtually specific in dealing with specific psychiatric problems. Some healers were able to identify serious mental illness and were able to refer these individuals to psychiatrists, whereas others felt that they were able to deal with these themselves. We present accounts of our interviews and highlight the advantages of the holistic approach and of qualitative methods of research.