Yoga nidra as a learning system

We regard yoga nidra as a powerful method of enhancing the learning process. It could be the learning system of the future. It not only helps to awaken the fountainhead of knowledge that lies within each individual, but also increases one's ability to absorb data from outside sources.

Children spend most of their schooldays being continuously bombarded with facts and figures, most of which have no relevance to their lives. Understandably, most children are inattentive and absorb little of what is taught by their teacher. Most readers will have their own experience of this situation. Yet children are naturally intelligent and receptive. This implies that the inability to be attentive and to absorb information does not lie with the children but with the system of education.

Children (as well as adults) learn best when they are creatively involved. But in this modern world most of the child's years in school are concerned with memorizing facts and figures. If this mechanical process could be shortened, then more time would be available for other things, and perhaps the school time could be drastically reduced. A child would learn more and be happier, and the teacher too. This is where the practice of yoga nidra comes in: it can be used to speed up the process of 'swotting' and memorizing the basic rules and facts of languages, maths, science and so forth. This would leave time for more creative pursuits.

Many adults are thirsty for higher education, want to study a language or, perhaps, a specialized subject. Instead of spending years and endless evenings slowly absorbing facts and figures, the whole process can be speeded up by using yoga nidra.

How does this process take place? The basic method is to practise yoga nidra for ten to fifteen minutes before the class begins. The students are relaxed, attentive and receptive. Facts and figures given by the teacher bypass conscious blocks in the mind and directly penetrate the subconscious mind. All the data is firmly impressed on the mind and retained permanently.

This method is currently being used, for example, at the Institute of Suggestology in Bulgaria, headed by Dr. Georgie Lozanov. He calls this method 'suggestopedia'. It uses the yogic technique of shavasana, which is a simplified form of yoga nidra. He believes that the learning process can be speeded up by a factor of about 50, with increased retention and virtually no effort from the students. Many controlled tests have proved the feasibility and success of this method. At the Institute, records show that hundreds of people have, for example, learnt a two year language course in twenty days. Other groups have had equal success in mastering basic maths, physics, chemistry, biology and so on in a matter of weeks. The technique is being adopted by people from all walks of life inc luding students, professors and housewives.

The following description of a suggestopedia session is extracted from a book called Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain by Sbeila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder.

"In a typical classroom at the Institute, twelve people - students, housewives, labourers, professional people, old and young - relax in reclining chairs that resemble aeroplane seats. The room looks more like a lounge than a classroom. The lighting is subdued to enhance the calming effect. The students are listening to music, gentle, soothing music. They look as if they were at a concert, completely wrapped up in the harmony of sounds. ,

"In actuality this is a French lesson. Against the background of Brahms or Beethoven, the voice of the teacher seems sometimes businesslike, as if ordering work to be done, sometimes soft and calm, then unexpectedly hard and commanding. Her voice repeats in a special rhythm, on a special scale of intonation, French words, idioms and their translations. But the students are not really listening. They have been warned not to pay attention, not to think about whether they hear the teacher. 'Relax -don't think about anything.' The conscious mind is to be totally occupied with the music.

"The next day surprised students discover that even though they were sure they had learnt nothing, they remember and can easily read, write and speak from 120 to 150 new words absorbed during the two hour session. In the same way, the toughest part of the language course, the grammar rules, painlessly take root in the mind of music-lulled students. In less than a month, students with no prior knowledge of the language have two to three thousand words and have a good grasp of the grammar. Tests a year later show that they still know all the material they learned in this incredibly effortless way."

This is only one example ofmodern research on learning methods. It is a pointer for the future and it is closely related to yoga nidra.

Yoga nidra relaxes the mind and allows it to absorb knowledge like a sponge absorbs water. The learning process is not physically or mentally tiring; in fact, it is effortless and enjoyable. If it can increase memory power by 50 times, that is 5000 percent, then it is well worth adopting on a large scale.

Yoga nidra needs to be fully investigated in relation to education. We would like to see yoga nidra, as well as yoga methods in general, introduced into schools and integrated into the daily curriculum. We already know of a few progressive teachers who give a short yoga nidra session of about five minutes, to their children before starting class. They have found that the absorption, attention span and interest of the children is indeed greatly improved. The short yoga nidra session is well justified. Yoga nidra will help transform 'fact factories', as schools and colleges are known, into centres of creativity. Yoga nidra and associated techniques can help to revolutionize education.

Lessons in Raja Yoga

Lessons in Raja Yoga

An easy to understand book on the principles and practices of Raja-Yoga alike. It teaches the eight steps

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