Yoga Nidra is being taught at the Benson Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. These are Satyananda-based Yoga Nidras. The hospital is also a center for MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) programs established by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn. As I am doing the Teaching Company’s Mind Body Medicine Guide by Dr. Jason Satterfield at the Unitarian Society, it has become yet another affirmation of the dovetail complement of the bio-pyscho-social model of medicine with the meditation philosophies/practices. Viewers can download free tracks from www.mahasriyoga.com/meditation that brings over 35 years of experience with Yoga Nidra and refer to the book review of Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda. Benson’s research started with Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Benson writes in his book [The Relaxation Response}, “We claim no innovation but simply a scientific validation of age-old wisdom”.
The Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital teaches how to elicit the response in nine steps. Benson’s website and his book describe four steps. Two of those steps are essential: a mental device (a simple word, phrase or activity to repeat to keep the mind from wandering) and a passive attitude. The goal is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes humans to relax.
Benson developed the idea of the response, which counters the fight-or-flight response described during the 1920s by Walter Bradford Cannon at the Harvard Medical School. According to Benson more than 60 percent of all visits to healthcare providers are related to stress. It causes the “fight or flight” hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, to secrete into the bloodstream. This incites or exacerbates a number of conditions. They include hypertension, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic low back pain, as well as heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The core belief of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) – that teaching patients mind body approach like meditation and yoga can reduce their stress and improve overall physical health – was proven correct in a preliminary study published this fall in the journal PLOS ONE. The study found that patients who participated in BHI programs reduced their medical visits on average by 43% in the year after taking part.