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Yoga Nidra as a Stress Management Intervention Strategy

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Abstract

The objective of the research paper is to explore the role and effectiveness of Yoga Nidra in mitigating the stress level of the employees at the workplace. The paper is conceptual and qualitative in nature in which Yogic technique-Yoga Nidra has been used as a stress management intervention strategy. This study is based on the content analysis of the similar researches already conducted in the past and also the interviews of the employees practising Yoga Nidra and has drawn useful inferences regarding the role of Yoga Nidra in managing the employees' stress at the workplace. It has been found that Yoga Nidra has a great potential to mitigate the stress level among the people. The paper also gives new insight to the organizations where effective mechanism of Yoga Nidra increases the parasympathetic system and decreases the sympathetic system which results into physical, mental and emotional relaxation in our body.
Yoga Nidra as a Stress Management Intervention Strategy
Manish Kumar Dwivedi
Research Scholar, Institute of Management Studies, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
S. K. Singh
Professor, Former Head & Dean, Institute of Management Studies, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
Abstract
The objective of the research paper is to explore the role and effectiveness of Yoga Nidra in mitigating the
stress level of the employees at the workplace. The paper is conceptual and qualitative in nature in which
Yogic technique- Yoga Nidra has been used as a stress management intervention strategy. This study is
based on the content analysis of the similar researches already conducted in the past and also the interviews
of the employees practising Yoga Nidra and has drawn useful inferences regarding the role of Yoga Nidra in
managing the employees' stress at the workplace. It has been found that Yoga Nidra has a great potential to
mitigate the stress level among the people. The paper also gives new insight to the organizations where
effective mechanism of Yoga Nidra increases the parasympathetic system and decreases the sympathetic
system which results into physical, mental and emotional relaxation in our body.
1. Introduction
Stress is considered to be a severe problem
nowad ays due to changing competit ive
environment. People differ in their perception,
beliefs, attitude, likes and dislikes, societal and
cultural background and so forth, these factors in
turn create conflict at the workplace and family
life. In organization, managers are under constant
pressure to meet the deadlines for fulfilling the
targets. This may result in increased profits and
faster growth in short- term but in turn
deterioration of the health of the employees facing
distress in the organisation. As a result, this would
decrease the productivity, increase the job
dissatisfaction level and increase the stress level
among the employees. It gradually hampers the
economy of the country as a whole. Stress is an
unavoidable component of life due to uncertainty
and competitiveness in modern life. In the fast
changing world of today, no individual is free from
stress and no profession is stress free. Everyone
experiences stress, whether it is within the family,
business, organization, study, work, or any other
social or economic activity. Stress, long considered
alien to Indian lifestyle, is now a major health
problem hazard. In America, it has been found in
survey conducted on workers in 2007, nearly
three-quarters of workers reported experiencing
physical symptoms of stress due to work.
According to statistics from the American
Psychological Association (APA), two-thirds of
Americans consider the work as a main source of
stress in their lives and roughly 30 percent of
workers surveyed reported “extreme” stress levels.
The uncontrollable major factors causing stress are
faltering economy, shrinking incomes and rampant
layoffs whereas on-the-job stressors are unclear job
expectations, time pressures and noisy work
stations etc. The work/life balance is another
challenging task especially for the women who are
primary caretakers of children and elderly loved
ones faced the problem of stress.
2. Conceptual Framework
Stress has been defined by Selye (1936)as “the non
specific response of the body to any demand for
change”. Selye (1976)added another definition of
stress as “a state manifested by a specific syndrome
which consists of all the non specifically induced
changes within the biological system”.Newman
and Beehr (1979),Cox(1978, 1990), Cox and
Mackay (1981) Fletcher (1988) cited the
engineering approach of stress defined as a
sti mulu s cha ract eris tic of the person' s
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Vol. IX, No. 1, March 2016- August 2016
environment, usually conceived in terms of the
load or level of demand placed on the individual, or
some aversive (threatening) or noxious element of
that environment. Juniper (2003) viewed the stress
from the different perspective as the dysfunctional,
psycho-physiological response to excessive
emotional challenges or inordinate instinctual
demand. Seaward (2012)observed the stress as the
inability to cope with a perceived threat to one's
mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-
being. According to the European Agency for
Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), work
related stress is experienced 'when the demands of
the work environment exceed the workers' ability
to cope with (or control) them'. Zimabardo (1988)
defined stress as “the pattern of specific and non
specific responses an organism makes to stimulus
events that disturb its equilibrium and tax or
exceed its ability to cope.”Cannon (1932)
proposed the concept of fight or flight response to
stress. When an organism perceives a threat, the
body is rapidly activated, aroused and motivated
via sympathetic nervous system and it disrupts
emotional, physical and mental state causes
various medical problems over time especially
when person is unable to either fight or flee and is
to face prolonged stress without break in its
potency and continuity
2.1 Body's Response to Stress
The Automatic Nervous System (ANS) has two
branches: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The
sympathetic nervous system energizes the body for
fight or flight by signaling the release of several
stress hormones. The parasympathetic nervous
system slows all the systems stimulated by the
stress response; in effect, it counteracts the actions
of the sympathetic branch. The responses of the
sympathetic nervous system to stress involve a
series of biochemical exchanges between different
parts of the body. The hypothalamus, a structure in
the brain, functions as the control center of the
sympathetic nervous system and determines the
overall reaction to stressors. When the
hypothalamus perceives that extra energy is
needed to fight a stressor, it stimulates the adrenal
glands, which are located near the top of the kid-
neys, to release the hormone epinephrine, also
called adrenaline. Epinephrine causes more blood
to be pumped with each beat of the heart, dilates the
airways in the lungs to increase oxygen intake,
increases the breathing rate, stimulates the liver to
release more glucose (which fuels muscular
exertion), and dilates the pupils to improve visual
sensitivity. The body is then poised to act
immediately. In addition to the fight-or-flight
response, the alarm phase can also trigger a longer-
term reaction to stress. The hypothalamus uses
chemical messages to trigger the pituitary gland
within the brain to release a powerful hormone,
adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH
signals the adrenal glands to release cortisol, a
hormone that makes stored nutrients more readily
available to meet energy demands. Finally, other
parts of the brain and body release end orphins,
which relieve pain that a stressor may cause.
Normally the cerebral cortex receives a wide
variety of messages from the environment leading
to an emotional and mental response. These
messages are passed on to the limbic areas leading
to an emotional and mental response.
The Yogic practice leads to heightened cortical
arousability and reduced limbic arousability at the
same time, which heightened perceptual awareness
and simultaneously reduced emotional reaction.
Thus the regulatory mechanism in the
hypothalamus is set at normal state which results in
decreases sympathetic system and stimulates
parasympathetic system. There is a powerful
technique to cope with the problem of stress
without medication in which a person can use their
mind to change physiology for the better and
improve their health by using the natural
restorative process called the Relaxation Response.
Yoga Nidra is one of the best Yogic interventional
mechanisms to cope with problem of stress which
stimulates the parasympathetic system and
decreases the sympathetic system which bring the
body into homeostatic state.
Yoga Nidra as a Stress Management Intervention Strategy 19
20
2.2 Yoga Nidra- Underlying Concept
Yoga Nidra (Sanskrit for Yogic Sleep) is a powerful
Yogic technique from the Tantra Yoga tradition.
Yoga Nidra is probably best-known technique to
induce complete physical, mental and emotional
relaxation. Yoga Nidra is a state of consciousness,
which is, neither sleep nor awaken, neither is it
concentration nor hypnotism. It can be defined, as
an altered state of consciousness It is both a name
of a state and of a practice which creates an altered
state of consciousness allowing the practitioner to
relax and heal their being, expand their faculty of
imagination, enter the realm of subconscious &
super-conscious, effectively manifest seemingly
magical changes in their life. Swami Satyananda
Saraswati (2002) explains Yoga Nidra as a state of
mind between wakefulness and dream. When
someone practices Yoga Nidra he opens the deeper
phases of the mind. During the practice of Yoga
Nidra the consciousness is at different levels and
the consciousness is suspended for a few moments
periodically, which means that it alternates
between the subconscious and unconscious states.
Few studies have been conducted to examine the
effectiveness of Yoga Nidra on stress related to
psychological and psychosomatic disorders.
The 8 stages of the Yoga Nidra practice include:
A) Internalization / Relaxation Preliminary
preparation of the body.
B) Affirmation (Sankalpa) A personal goal
previously decided upon is declared silently.
C) Rotation of Consciousness – The consciousness
is taken on a tour of the whole body in a structured
fashion.
D) Respiration awareness – A period of awareness
of the breath at special positions in the body.
E) Manifestations of Opposites – Pairs of feelings
and emotions are experienced.
F) Creative Visualization – Various Archetypal
images are visualized mentally.
G) Affirmation- Sankalpa is repeated and, now in a
highly suggestible state of consciousness, is
programmed into the subconscious mind.
H) Return to Full Awareness – A careful and
gradual return to a normal state.
2.2.1Benefits
Ÿ Everyone can practice. Even beginners who
have no experience with meditation.
Ÿ Physical stresses and tensions are removed.
Ÿ Mental stresses and unwanted impressions are
removed.
Ÿ Emotional balance is restored.
Ÿ The faculties of imagination and visualization
are practised and enhanced.
Ÿ The subconscious is focussed on and able to
manifest any personal goal be it physical.
2.2.2 Effect of Yoga Nidra on Emotional and
Mental Health
It can assist in the achievement of a state of so
called self-realization (complete self-awareness)
Yoga Nidra helps in restoring mental, emotional
and physical health by way of relaxation, and
makes the mind more conducive to Pratyahara -
withdrawing senses from their objects, Dharana -
concentration, and meditation. The practice helps
harmonize the two hemispheres of the brain and the
two aspects of the autonomous nervous system
(sympathetic and parasympathetic).
2.2.3 Typical Effects
The most easily observable effect of the Yoga Nidra
practice is the extremely deep relaxation of the
nervous system and healing of the body by
allowing it the rest and recharge it usually lacks in
our all too busy lifestyles. Yoga Nidra has been
clinically shown to be one of the most powerful
methods available to achieve this state of deep
relaxation and sedation without the use of chemical
agents as demonstrated in various clinical trials
both in the US Menninger Foundation research in
the 1970's, and in various academic experiments in
Copenhagen, Denmark Brain scans were used to
observe and study the changes occurring during
and post-practice with startling results.
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Yoga Nidra as a Stress Management Intervention Strategy 21
In Yoga Nidra exactly opposite process is used to
make the brain centres active by focussing
awareness on the parts of the body in a definite
sequence. Thus, the person tries to stimulate
various parts of the brain by focusing the
awareness on the corresponding parts of the body.
By awareness is implied 'attitude of witnessing'
towards physical or mental actions of the body.
2.2.4Mechanism of Yoga Nidra
Yogic philosophy as well as modern psychology,
enumerates three basic types of tension which are
responsible for all the agonies of modern life.
These three types of tension are classified as
Physical, Mental and Emotional. Through the
consistent practice of Yoga Nidra, these threefold
tensions can be progressively released. 1. Physical
Tension- This is termed as muscular tensions
related to the body itself, the nervous system and
endocrinal imbalance. These are easily released by
the deep physical relaxation attained in the state of
Yoga Nidra. 2. Emotional Tension- It controls the
emotional state of the mind, tranquilize the entire
emotional structure of the mind. 3. Mental tension-
Everyone involved in some kind of mental activity
in day to day life. The mind is whirlpool of
fantasies, confusions and oscillations. The tensions
related to family, workplace, and interpersonal
relationships are accumulated in the consciousness
state of the mental body. This may bring
psychological and behavioural changes in the body
responsible for abnormal behaviour of an
individual. Yoga Nidra is the science of relaxation
which enables to enter into the realms of the
subconscious mind, thereby releasing and relaxing
mental tensions and establishing harmony in all
facts of life.
3. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Rani et al. (2011) investigated the impact of Yoga
Nidra on psychological well being in patients with
menstrual irregularities in Chattrapati Shahuji
Maharaj Medical University, Lucknow. The
authors studied the association of menstrual
symptoms with anxiety and depression in female
students. The frequent occurrence of one menstrual
symptoms cause discomfort affecting the
Performance. The practice of Yoga Nidra has been
reported to relieve pain associated with
dys menorrhoe a and exce ssiv e lev el of
premenstrual tension. The participants in the Yoga
Nidra program had found to be decreased level of
anxiety, depression and increased positive well-
being, general health and vitality compared with
the control group.
Mandlik et al. (2002)investigated the effect of Yog
Nidra on the activity of brain with the help of
Electro-Encephalograph (EEG). Initially EEG
showed Beta activity prominently with intermittent
Table1: Types of waves in EEG
Type of Waves in EEG
Brainwaves Cycles
/Second
Level of Consciousness
Beta 13 – 30 Externally directed attention, mental activity, anxiety. Rational mind use, also
some schizophrenias and manias
Alpha 8 – 12 Internally directed attention with closed eyes, relaxed state of body and mind,
psychosis
Theta 4 – 7 States of creativity, access to unconscious material meditation. REM sleep, in
children
Delta 0.5 – 3 Deep and dreamless sleep, new born babies, some neurological disorders
22
Alpha activity. With the advancement of Yoga
Nidra, Beta activity was slowly replaced by Alpha
activity and still further by smooth well formed
Alpha activity. After 30 sessions of Yoga Nidra
gain of alpha activity was better and with further
advancement of Yoga Nidra intermittent Theta
activity was noted intermixed with alpha activity
suggestive of deep state of relaxation. EEG
measures minute electrical activity in the brain in
the form of waves. The frequency of brain activity
waves has been shown to alter according to the
state of consciousness and state of mind the subject
is in. Beta activity is normally noted in the awake
working state. With physical relaxation beta
activity is taken up by alpha activity, and as the
person goes into different stages of sleep the
activity changes to theta and also may exhibit delta
activity in deep sleep.
Sharma et al. (2005)observed that practice of Yoga
brings a harmony in psycho-physiology of the
practitioners. Deuskar et. al. (2006) found a
significant change in the Performance of archers
due to the practice of Yoga Nidra. The result shows
that Yoga Nidra positively decreases the stress
level of the male and female subjects both.
Kumar(2008) reported the effectiveness of Yoga
Nidra in curing the psychological disorders like
anxiety, hostility, insomnia etc. and psychosomatic
diseases like Asthma, coronary heart diseases,
cancer, hypertensions etc. In the study it has been
found that the practice of Yoga Nidra decrease the
stress and anxiety level of the students of higher
class in Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar.
Rani et al. (2013) examined the effects of Yoga
Nidra on stress levels among B.Sc Nursing first
year students at academic level Performance
interface student's preparation, concentration
attention, memory etc. As a result it has been found
that the level of stress after the administration of
Yoga Nidra was decreased in moderate and low
level of stress but no effect of Yoga Nidra has been
found on students having high stress level.
4. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The individual, organization and the society face
challenge in coping up with the problem of stress at
the workplace and in family also. They also bear
the latent cost of the stress knowingly and
unknowingly which ultimately affect the economy
of the country. The survey conducted by European
Agency for Safety and Work Health at Work by a
team led by Hassard et al. (2014)analysed the cost
related to the stress at three levels- Individual,
Organizational and Societal level. At the individual
level, the stress related cost was reflected in terms
of increased medical and insurance costs and
reduced income. At the organization level, the
financial implications of work related stress was
associated with deterioration of productivity,
higher level of absenteeism and employee
turnover. At a societal level, chronic work- related
stress and prolonged exposure to psychosocial
risks at work could strain health services and
reduce economic productivity negatively affects
the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
Organizations have been putting their effort in
reducing the stress related cost which ultimately
hampers the productivity of the individual,
organization and the country a whole. Therefore
organizations adopted various stress management
intervention strategies like leisure counselling,
participative decision making, job redesign,
changing organizational structure, recreational
activity etc. These strategies might not be proved to
be very effective in bringing the fruitful results in
the long run to mitigate the effect of stress level
among the employees at the workplace. Therefore
proposed research would be addressing the dearth
of focus on these aspects and it will be helpful for
the society to understand the linkages between the
practice of Yoga Nidra and outcome of it on the
stress level. Few studies have been conducted in
this area. There is no significant research work has
been done so far on the topic in the organizational
context.
5.OBJECTIVE
The objective of the study is to explore the role and
Vol. IX, No. 1, March 2016- August 2016
Vol. IX, No. 1, March 2016- August 2016
effectiveness of Yoga Nidra in mitigating the stress
level of the employees at the workplace.
6. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
6.1 Research Design
The paper is conceptual and qualitative in nature in
which Yogic technique- Yoga Nidra has been used
as stress management intervention strategy. The
secondary data has been collected from the various
Journals and books. The primary data has been
collected from the 30 employees who have been
practising Yoga Nidra for sometime with the help
of structured questionnaire based interview.
6.2 Method
The following two logical steps were taken to study
the role and significance of Yoga Nidra in
mitigating the stress.
a) The 5 studies conducted in the past were
systematically reviewed and their contents were
analysed with an view to understanding the role
and significance of Yoga Nidra.
b) The 30 employees working in different
capacities (teaching and non teaching both) were
interviewed with the help of structured questions
and their responses and experiences were analysed
by using Content Analysis Method.
S.No.
Author
Nature of Study
Finding
Observation
1
Rani et al.
(2011)
The author investigates the
impact
of
Yoga
Nidra on
psychological well being
such as anxiety and
depression in female
students
with menstrual
irregularities
in Chattrapati
Shahuji Maharaj Medical
University,Lucknow.
The practice of Yoga Nidra
has
been reported to relieve pain
associated with
dysmenorrhoea and excessive
level of premenstrual tension.
Found decreased
level of anxiety,
depression and
increased positive
wellbeing, general
health and vitality
2
Mandlik et
al.
(2002)
The author investigates the
effect of Yog Nidra
on the
activity of brain with the
help of Electro-
Encephalograph (EEG).
Initially EEG showed Beta
activity prominently with
intermittent Alpha activity.
With the advancement of Yoga
Nidra,Beta activity was slowly
replaced by Alpha activity and
still further by smooth well
formed Alpha
activity.
During the practice
of Yoga Nidra the
brain waves changes
from Beta to alpha
to theta relates to
uncouncious mind
i.e complete
relaxation.
3
Sharma
et al.
(2005)
The author examined
the
impact of
practice of Yoga
Nidra in bringing a harmony
in psycho-physiology of the
archers practitioners.
Found a significant change in
the Performance of archers
due to the practice of Yoga
Nidra.
The result shows
that YogaNidra
positively decreases
the stress level of
the male and female
subjects both.
Table 2: Review and Analysis of Researches Defining the Relation between Yoga Nidra and Stress
Yoga Nidra as a Stress Management Intervention Strategy 23
5 Rani et
al.(2013)
The author examined the
effects of Yoga Nidra on
stress levels among B.Sc
Nursing first year students at
academic level Performance
student’s preparation,
concentration attention,
memory etc.
It has beenobserved that the
level of stress after the
administration of Yoga
Nidra was decreased in
moderate and low level of
stress but no effect of Yoga
Nidra was found on students
having high stress level.
Decrease stress at
moderate level and
no effect was found
on high level of
stress.
The systematic analysis of the five studies which were conducted in the past revealsa positive impact of Yoga
Nidra on mitigating the Stress level. In the one of the studies, it has been observed that brain waves state
changes from beta to alpha to theta and then delta in EEG machine during the practice of Yo ga Nidra which
activates the parasympathetic system and decrease the parasympathetic system of the body to bring the position
of the mind in homeostatic state. Further the Content Analysis of the interview in the form of structured
questionnaire held with the employees shows that the Yoga Nidra helps them positively in improving their
wellbeing and health which results in reduced stress level.
4 Kumar. K.
(2008)
The author investigate the
effectiveness of
Yoga Nidra in curing the
psychological disorders like
anxiety, hostility, insomnia
etc. and psychosomatic
diseases like Asthma,
coronary heart diseases,
cancer, hypertensions etc of
the students of higher class
in Dev Sanskriti
Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar.
It has been found that the
practice of Yog Nidra decrease
the stress and anxiety level
Decrease the level of
stress and anxiety
7.Analysis and Discussion
Table 2 given above depicts the systematic review
and analysis of a few of the researches which have
been conducted in the past aiming at defining the
relation between Yoga Nidra and stress.
8. Conclusion
Yoga Nidra is the powerful technique to induce
complete physical, mental and emotional
relaxations. The Yoga Nidra state reflects an
integrated response by the hypothalamus resulting
in decreased sympathetic nervous activity
(excitatory) and increased parasympathetic
(relaxatory) function. This relaxation response can
be thought of as the inverse counterpart of the so-
called 'fight or flight' response. The ultimate
objective of Yoga Nidra is to combat the stressful
influences and rectifying the imbalances created by
24
poor stress management. It is not only a way of
coping with stress, it provides a means of
transforming and positively utilizing tension as a
stepping stone to greater awareness, efficiency and
achievement in life.
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Vol. IX, No. 1, March 2016- August 2016
... Sesión 8: "Conclusiones finales y cierre" Fuente: Carrasco, de la Corte, y León, 2010;Dwivedi y Singh, 2016;Gracia et al., 2018;Hoek et al., 2018;Magdalena, Fernández, y Roso, 2020. Actividades para el tratamiento/prevención de la baja realización personal Tabla 3. Estrategias a nivel grupal con repercusión individual para la realización personal Cronograma de intervención. ...
... Actividades para el tratamiento/prevención de la baja realización personal Tabla 3. Estrategias a nivel grupal con repercusión individual para la realización personal Cronograma de intervención. "Empodérate" Sesión Sesión 1: charla sobre "Realización personal" Sesión 2: charla sobre "empoderamiento" Sesión 3: taller sobre "engagement" Sesión 4: taller sobre "refuerzo de la autoestima" Sesión 5: taller "engagement en la práctica clínica" Sesión 6: "Conclusiones finales y cierre" Fuente: Carrasco, de la Corte y León, 2010;Dwivedi& Singh, 2016;Gracia et al., 2018;Hoek et al., 2018;Magdalena, Fernández y Roso, 2020. Actuaciones desde la organización Tabla 4. Intervenciones para la efectiva conciliación del entorno laboral y familiar Ámbito de Intervención Actuación ...
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... Attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation and changes in perspective on the self [43]. Mudra (gesture) ...
... Yoga nidra is a very powerful, comprehensive, profound and deepest possible relaxation while being fully conscious and aware. Yoga nidra has a great potential to reduce the stress and result in physical, mental and emotional relaxation [43,44]. It also enhances selfawareness and self-efficacy [44]. ...
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Premature ejaculation (PE) is a common male sexual problem. Various non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatment options are available currently. The importance of yoga in the management of various sexual dysfunctions is increasingly recognized. In this review, we are analyzing the role of yoga in the management of PE. This paper explores the mechanism of yoga practices in the management of PE and the recommended yoga practice for PE. It also discusses the scientific evidence of yoga practices, such as yoga postures (yogasana), breathing practices (pranayama), lock (bandha), gestures (mudra), relaxation, Aum chanting, yoga nidra and meditation with particular reference the management of PE.
... Yoga Nidra is the science of relaxation which enables to enter into the realms of the subconscious mind, thereby releasing and relaxing mental tensions and establishing harmony in all facts of life. 7 The Yogic practice leads to heightened cortical arousability and reduced limbic arousability at the same time, which heightened perceptual awareness and simultaneously reduced emotional reaction. Thus the regulatory mechanism in the hypothalamus is set at normal state which results in decreases sympathetic system and stimulates parasympathetic system. ...
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As a science of wellbeing, Yoga needs not more introduction. In this modern time Yoga practices utilize as preventive as well as curative aspects. In this article, affect of an ancient yogic Practice called Yoga Nidra can discharge emotional blockages and tie of pain. Emotional suffering is suffering or harmed that originates from non physical sources. In modern time individual may endure from this sort of suffering habitually due to parts of reasons. When an individual cannot express his/her sentiments and suppress that, it may create emotional blockages in mind. Yoga Nidra practice work as tool to help this sort of suffering and work as tranquilizer. Key words: Emotional pain, Yoga Practice, Yoga Nidra.
... Yoga Nidra is traditionally carried out while lying down and consists of a systematic sequence of perception exercises, e.g., focusing on the breath or certain parts of the body. It has been increasingly examined in recent years regarding the effects on stress (e.g., Borchardt et al. 2012;Dwivedi and Singh 2016), sleep (e.g., Amita et al. 2009) and well-being (e.g., Bhogaonker 2012; Rani et al. 2011). Extant research seems promising but randomized controlled trials and larger samples are rare (e.g., Deuskar 2011;Rani et al. 2013). ...
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Previous studies have shown that meditation-based interventions can have a significant impact on stress and well-being in various populations. To further extend these findings, an 11-min Yoga Nidra meditation that may especially be integrated in a busy daily schedule by people who can only afford short time for breaks was adapted and analyzed in an experimental online study design. The effects of this short meditation on stress, sleep, well-being and mindfulness were examined for the first time. The meditation was provided as audio file and carried out during a period of 30 days by the participants of the meditation group. A Structural Equation Model (SEM) was used to analyze the data with Full Information Maximum Likelihood (FIML) in order to cope with missing data. As expected, the meditation group (N = 341) showed lower stress, higher well-being and improved sleep quality after the intervention (very small to small effect sizes) compared with a waitlist control group (N = 430). It turned out that the meditation had a stronger impact on the reduction of negative affect than on the increase of positive affect and also a stronger effect on affective components of well-being. Mindfulness, as a core element of the meditation, increased during the study within the meditation group. All effects remained stable at follow-up six weeks later. Overall, a large, heterogeneous sample showed that already a very short dose of meditation can positively influence stress, sleep, and well-being. Future research should consider biological markers as well as active control groups.
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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.
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