Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 30, 2018

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

Tom Hendriks

Abstract

Objectives

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

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Acknowledgments

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.

References

[1] Benson H, Klipper MZ. The relaxation response. New York: Harper Collins; 1992.Search in Google Scholar

[2] Manocha R. Does meditation have a specific effect? A systematic experimental evaluation of a mental silence orientated definition. Sydney, NSW, Australia: University of New South Wales, Faculty of Medicine; 2008.Search in Google Scholar

[3] Forfylow AL. Integrating yoga with psychotherapy: a complementary treatment for anxiety and depression. Can J Counselling Psychotherapy. 2011;45:132–50.Search in Google Scholar

[4] Barnett JE, Shale AJ. The integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) into the practice of psychology: a vision for the future. Prof Psychol Res Pract. 2012;43:576.10.1037/a0028919Search in Google Scholar

[5] Austin S, Laeng S. Yoga. In: In J. L. Carlson (Eds.), Complementary therapies and wellness: practice essentials for holistic health care. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002:282–94.Search in Google Scholar

[6] Mehta P, Sharma M. Yoga as a complementary therapy for clinical depression. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2010;15:156–70.10.1177/1533210110387405Search in Google Scholar

[7] Ahrens AH, Forbes CN. Gratitude. In: Tugade MM, Shiota MN, Kirby LD, editors. Handbook of positive emotions. New York: Guilford Press, 2014:342–61.Search in Google Scholar

[8] Fjorback LO, Arendt M, Ørnbø E, Fink P, Walach H. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy – a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2011;124:102–19.10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01704.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

[9] Sedlmeijer P, Eberth J, Schwarz M, Zimmerman G, Haarig F, Jaeger S, et al. The psychological effects of meditation: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bull. 2012;138:1139–71.10.1037/a0028168Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[10] Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, Gould NF, Rowland-Seymour A, Sharma BZ, et al. Meditation programs of psychological stress and well-being. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174:357–68.10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[11] Hernandez SE, Suero J, Rubia K, Gonzalez-Mora JL. Monitoring the neural activity of the state of mental silence while practicing Sahaja Yoga meditation. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21:177–79.10.1089/acm.2013.0450Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[12] Manocha R, Black D, Spiro D, Ryan J, Stough C. Changing definitions of meditation – is there a physiological corollary? Skin temperature changes of a mental silence orientated form of meditation compared to rest. J Int Soc Life Inf Sci. 2010;28:23–31.Search in Google Scholar

[13] Rubia K. The neurobiology of meditation and its clinical effectiveness in psychiatric disorders. Biol Psychol. 2009;82:1–11.10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.04.003Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[14] Ramamurthi B. The fourth state of consciousness: the Thuriya Avastha. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1995;49:107–10.10.1111/j.1440-1819.1995.tb01871.xSearch in Google Scholar PubMed

[15] Lutz A, Jha AP, Dunne JD, Saron CD. Investigating the phenomenological matrix of mindfulness-related practices from a neurocognitive perspective. Am Psychol. 2015;70:632–58.10.1037/a0039585Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[16] Moher D, Liberati A, Teztlaff J, Altman DG. The PRISMA Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;51:1–7.Search in Google Scholar

[17] Higgins JP, Green S., editors Tools for assessing methodological quality or risk of bias in non-randomized studies. In: Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions. London: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.Search in Google Scholar

[18] Higgins JP, Altman DG, Gøtzsche PC, Jüni P, Moher D, Oxman AD, et al. The Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias in randomized trials. BMJ. 2011;343:d5928.10.1136/bmj.d5928Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[19] Wells GA, Shea B, O’connell D, Peterson J, Welch V, Losos M, et al. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) for assessing the quality if nonrandomized studies in meta-analyses. 2009. Epub Available at: http://www.ohri.ca/programs/clinical_epidemiology/oxford.htm. Accessed: 19 Oct 2009, 2013.Search in Google Scholar

[20] Lipsey MW, Wilson DB. The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment: confirmation from meta-analysis. Am Psychol. 1993;93:1181–209.10.1037/0003-066X.48.12.1181Search in Google Scholar

[21] Manocha R, Marks GB, Kenchington P, Peters D, Salome CM. Sahaja yoga in the management of moderate to severe asthma: a randomised controlled trial. Thorax. 2002;57:110–15.10.1136/thorax.57.2.110Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[22] Manocha R, Black D, Sarris J, Stough C. A randomized, controlled trial of meditation for work stress, anxiety and depressed mood in full-time workers. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2011;2011:960583.10.1155/2011/960583Search in Google Scholar

[23] Sharma VK, Das S, Mondal S, Goswami U, Gandhi A. Effect of sahaj yoga on depressive disorders. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005;49:462–68.Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[24] Schneider S, Zollo M, Manocha R. Developing socially responsible behaviour in managers. J Corporate Citizenship. 2010;39:21–40.10.1057/9780230353855.0021Search in Google Scholar

[25] Aftanas LI, Golocheikine SA. Human Anterior and frontal midline theta and lower alpha reflect emotionally positive state and internalized attention: high-resolution EEG investigation on meditation. Neurosci Lett. 2001;310:57–60.10.1016/S0304-3940(01)02094-8Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[26] Aftanas LI, Golocheikine SA. Changes in cortical activity in altered states of consciousness: the study of meditation by high resolution EEG. Hum Physiol. 2003;29:143–51.10.1023/A:1022986308931Search in Google Scholar

[27] Aftanas LI, Golocheikine SA. Impact of regular meditation practice on EEG activity at rest and during evoked negative emotions. Int J Neurosci. 2005;115:893–909.10.1080/00207450590897969Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[28] Chung S, Brooks MM, Raid M, Balk JL, Rai S. Effect of Sahaja Yoga meditation on quality of life, anxiety, and blood pressure control. J Altern Complement Med. 2012;18:589–96.10.1089/acm.2011.0038Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[29] Morgan AJ. Sahaja Yoga: an ancient path to modern mental health?. Transpersonal Psychol Rev. 2000;4:41–49.Search in Google Scholar

[30] Manocha R, Black D, Wilson L. Quality of life and functional health status of long-term meditators. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2012;2012:350674.10.1155/2012/350674Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[31] Hernández SE, Suero J, Barros A, González-Mora JL, Rubia K. Increased grey matter associated with long-term sahaja yoga meditation: a voxel-based morphometry study. PloS ONE. 2016;11:e0150757.10.1371/journal.pone.0150757Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[32] Buffart LM, Van Uffelen JG, Riphagen II, Brug J, van Mechelen W, Brown WJ, et al. Physical and psychosocial benefits of yoga in cancer patients and survivors, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. BMC Cancer. 2012;12:559.10.1186/1471-2407-12-559Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[33] Cramer H, Lange S, Klose P, Paul A, Dobos G. Yoga for breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cancer. 2012;12:412.10.1186/1471-2407-12-412Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[34] Lin KY, Hu YT, Chang KJ, Lin HF, Tsauo JY. Effects of yoga on psychological health, quality of life, and physical health of patients with cancer: a meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2011;2011:659876.10.1155/2011/659876Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[35] Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, Dobos G. Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Depress Anxiety. 2013;30:1068–83.10.1002/da.22166Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[36] Gong H, Ni C, Shen X, Wu T, Jiang C. Yoga for prenatal depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2015;15:14.10.1186/s12888-015-0393-1Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[37] Cramer H, Lauche R, Klose P, Langhorst J, Dobos G. Yoga for schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13:32.10.1186/1471-244X-13-32Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

[38] Cramer H, Lauche R, Haller H, Dobos G. A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain. Clin J Pain. 2013;29:450–60.10.1097/AJP.0b013e31825e1492Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[39] Hendriks T, de Jong J, Cramer H. The effects of yoga on positive mental health among healthy adults: a meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017;23:505–17.10.1089/acm.2016.0334Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[40] Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhaneh M, Tjosvold L, Vandermeer B, Liang Y, et al. Meditation practices for health: state of the research. Evidence Report Technology Assessments 2007;155:1–263.Search in Google Scholar

[41] Sedgwick P. Cross sectional studies: advantages and disadvantages. BMJ Br Med J. 2014;348.10.1136/bmj.g2276Search in Google Scholar

[42] Levin KA. Study design III: cross-sectional studies. Evid Based Dent. 2006;7:24.10.1038/sj.ebd.6400375Search in Google Scholar PubMed

[43] Sterne JA, Higgins JP, Reeves BC On behalf of the development group for ACROBAT-NRSI. A cochrane risk of bias assessment tool: for non-randomized studies of interventions (ACROBAT-NRSI), Version 1.0.0, 2014-10-11). http://www.riskofbias.info.Search in Google Scholar

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

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Scroll Up Arrow