Improve Mental Health with Yoga Nidra and Meditation
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Yoga nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation that isn’t found in your average meditation practice. The stages of body scan and breath awareness alone can be practiced to calm the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.” – Allison Ray Jeraci
“Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern-day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of meditation practice. Meditation allows us to view our experience and not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather meditation lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment.
Meditation training has been shown to improve health and well-being. It has also been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. Meditation techniques have common properties of restful attention on the present moment, but there are large differences. These differences are likely to produce different effects on the practitioner. Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation technique where the practitioner lies on the back in a “corpse pose” and is guided through body scan and imagery into a deeply relaxed state. Meditation involves a more active and concentrated process on the part of the practitioner but also leads to relaxation. It is not known if these two different contemplative techniques have different effects on psychological health.
In today’s Research News article “The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134749/ ), Ferreira-Vorkapic and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to either practice Yoga Nidra of meditation for 3 months, once a week for 45 minutes, or to a wait-list control. They were measured before and after training for anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress.
They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group, the participants who practiced either Yoga Nidra or meditation had significant reductions in anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress. There were no significant differences between the contemplative techniques on any of the measure of psychological health. Hence, the techniques would appear to be equally effective in improving the psychological state of the participants.
It should be mentioned that since the control condition did not receive any treatment and both treated groups had significant effects, that a subject expectancy (placebo effect), attention, of experimenter bias effects may account for the improvements. It is also possible that the techniques may produce different effects on variable that were not measured, as only negative mood states were measured and a variety of contemplative techniques have been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, fear, and perceived stress. Regardless, the present study demonstrates that the contemplative techniques of Yoga Nidra and meditation are effective in improving the psychological states of the practitioners.
So, improve mental health with Yoga Nidra and meditation.
“As you can imagine, feeling well rested is life changing, but yoga nidra also improves your overall health. A 2013 study showed that practicing yoga nidra improved anxiety, depression, and overall well-being.” – Karen Brody
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Ferreira-Vorkapic, C., Borba-Pinheiro, C. J., Marchioro, M., & Santana, D. (2018). The Impact of Yoga Nidra and Seated Meditation on the Mental Health of College Professors. International journal of yoga, 11(3), 215-223.
World statistics for the prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders shows that a great number of individuals will experience some type of anxiety or mood disorder at some point in their lifetime. Mind–body interventions such as Hatha Yoga and seated meditation have been used as a form of self-help therapy and it is especially useful for challenging occupations such as teachers and professors.
In this investigation, we aimed at observing the impact of Yoga Nidra and seated meditation on the anxiety and depression levels of college professors.
Materials and Methods:
Sixty college professors, men and women, aged between 30 and 55 years were randomly allocated in one of the three experimental groups: Yoga Nidra, seated meditation, and control group. Professors were evaluated two times throughout the 3-month study period. Psychological variables included anxiety, stress, and depression.
Data analysis showed that the relaxation group presented better intragroup results in the anxiety levels. Meditation group presented better intragroup results only in the anxiety variable (physical component). Intergroup analysis showed that, except for the depression levels, both intervention groups presented better results than the control group in all other variables.
Prepost results indicate that both interventions represent an effective therapeutic approach in reducing anxiety and stress levels. However, there was a tendency toward a greater effectiveness of the Yoga Nidraintervention regarding anxiety, which might represent an effective tool in reducing both cognitive and physiological symptoms of anxiety.