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The effects of Sahaja Yoga meditation on mental health: a systematic review

  • Tom Hendriks EMAIL logo



To determine the efficacy of Sahaja Yoga (SY) meditation on mental health among clinical and healthy populations.


All publications on SY were eligible. Databases were searched up to November 2017, namely PubMed, MEDLINE (NLM), PsychINFO, and Scopus. An internet search (Google Scholar) was also conducted. The quality of the randomized controlled trails was assessed using the Cochrane Risk Assessment for Bias. The quality of cross-sectional studies, a non-randomized controlled trial and a cohort study was assessed with the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale.


We included a total of eleven studies; four randomized controlled trials, one non-randomized controlled trial, five cross-sectional studies, and one prospective cohort study. The studies included a total of 910 participants. Significant findings were reported in relation to the following outcomes: anxiety, depression, stress, subjective well-being, and psychological well-being. Two randomized studies were rated as high quality studies, two randomized studies as low quality studies. The quality of the non-randomized trial, the cross-sectional studies and the cohort study was high. Effect sizes could not be calculated in five studies due to unclear or incomplete reporting.


After reviewing the articles and taking the quality of the studies into account, it appears that SY may reduce depression and possibly anxiety. In addition, the practice of SY is also associated with increased subjective wellbeing and psychological well-beng. However, due to the limited number of publications, definite conclusions on the effects of SY cannot be made and more high quality randomized studies are needed to justify any firm conclusions on the beneficial effects of SY on mental health.


The author would like to thank Prof. Dr. J. de Jong at the University of Amsterdam (UVA), Prof. Dr. P. Cuijpers and Dr. E. Karyotaki at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam), Prof. Dr. T. Graafsma at the Institute of Graduate Studies and Research (IGSR) for their corrections and support. Mr. E. Joemai at ADEKUS is thanked for co-assessing the quality of the studies. Finally, Dr. C. Danyluck at the University of Colorado is thanked for his suggestions for improvements.

  1. Author contributions: The author has accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.

  6. Author Disclosure Statement: The author is a practitioner of Sahaja Yoga, but is not financially affiliated with the organization. This article is part of a PhD program, in which the author is supervised by academics that are not in any way linked to Sahaja Yoga. This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.


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Received: 2016-12-12
Accepted: 2018-03-15
Published Online: 2018-05-30

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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