Research on Sky Meditation

Evidence-Based Technique of the Yesplus Retreat

Health and wellness are more than the mere absence of illness. To be well is to thrive physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Evidence suggests increased health, vitality, and well-being, reported by tens of thousands of SKY meditation practitioners, which are consistent with empirical research findings.

SKY Meditation uses cyclical, rhythmic patterns of breath to bring the mind and body into a relaxed state, leading a meditative state to arise. Its effects have been studied in open and randomized trials, both in healthy populations and in populations with psychopathology.

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Scientifically Documented Benefits of SKY:

  • Relieves anxiety & depression (See Ref. 2,5,6,7)
  • Relieves and sustains relief in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms (See Ref. 11,13)
  • Improved emotion regulation (See Ref. 8,15)
  • Increased mental focus / heightened awareness as indicated by EEG Beta-wave activity (See Ref. 1)
  • Increased levels of optimism and reduced reports of stress (See Ref. 3)
  • Reduced levels of biochemical markers of stress (cortisol and lactate) (See Ref. 6,9)
  • Increased levels of antioxidant enzymes (glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase) (See Ref. 9,10)
  • Enhanced immune system function (See Ref. 4,16)
  • Improved cholesterol profile (See Ref. 16)
  • Alters rapid gene expression, indicating benefits on a molecular level (See Ref. 16)

RESEARCH CITATIONS

Thriving in Life

Yesplus Retreat Results

Over 90% of Yesplus Retreat participants report:

  • Breathing techniques have made me calmer.
  • My mood has improved.
  • I have increased energy.
  • I am more able to manage multiple responsibilities.
  • My focus has improved.
  • I am better able to connect with myself and others.

Leading with Purpose and Centeredness

Yesplus Leadership Training Results

Footprint

  • 50,000+ Students Impacted By Programs
  • 11,974 Yesplus Retreat Graduates
  • 798 Yesplus Retreats
  • 181 Yesplus Leaders Trained
  • 29 Yesplus Students, Now Teachers

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University Support of Yesplus

Stories

Thriving in Life

The Yesplus Retreat

“I have so much clarity, and now I know my path.”

— Katie, University of Southern Maine

“Yesplus has helped me to get out of my head and connect with people.”

— Jason, University of Southern Maine

“I have more empathy and can connect on a deeper level with other people.”

— Barrett, University of Colorado

“I went from being a good athlete to being a great athlete.”

— Corey, St. John's College

“I’ve gone from being an angry person to becoming a happy, inspiring person.”

— Emilie, Universite De Montreal

“I now have an internal sense of power.”

— Manuj, Northeastern University

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Written Testimonials

“Alertness, creativity and efficient teamwork, I realize, are the cornerstones in contributing and getting the most from a demanding schedule at a business school. I observe that while students struggle to maintain their energy throughout the day, Yesplus practices helps me to be in “the zone”. They tremendously assist me to keep my smile throughout the day, deliver successfully and involve myself ingeniously… all without feeling a sense of stressful effort. What else can one ask for!”

— Chetan, Management Fellow at Sloan School of Management, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

“My experience on Yesplus was wonderful and unique, almost unexplainable. The things taught made everything seem clearer, simple, and less hectic. It’s as if now I finally have the foundations to lead a great, rewarding life. The dynamism with which everything is taught helped me realize everything better, and the breathing exercises helped me relax and look at the world more clearly. This truly is a wonderful course that everyone should go through, and the cause behind it is even more amazing: TRULY making the world a better place. Thank You!”

— Cristina Villa, Cornell University

Read More

Leading with Purpose and Centeredness

Yesplus Leadership Training

— Jason, University of Colorado

— Emily, University of Southern Maine

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Written Testimonials

Dheeraj

Dheeraj, University of South Florida

I feel more centered and confident after taking the Yesplus Leadership Retreat. Being with such a diverse set of people was a brilliant opportunity to learn from every leader. One of the most unique assets I now have is to be able convert my weaknesses to strengths. The training has made it easy for me to face any situation courageously by easily going beyond my boundaries.

Emilie

Emilie, University of Montreal

I realize how much I need to be a team player, and what that implies. Listening skills, being present and active, yet aware and able to let go and let the group process unfold.

Hayley

Hayley, University of Southern Maine

I learned in this course how important it is and how much of an impact it makes upon a person to feel connected and noticed. I haven’t felt this connected and loved and supported by a group (and in such a short time!) in my entire life. This course helps individuals break through their biggest barriers and I definitely feel like I am walking around with a new inner confidence and peace. This course has inspired me to be more aware and pay closer attention to my meditation practices. I am super motivated and feeling this high energy and passion to create change in my community and to help others feel free and lead more spiritual and loving lives. I look forward to sharing this new inner confidence with others and sharing the beauty of meditation, yoga, knowledge, and personal practice. I feel very ready to flourish and to spread happiness to the masses.

Jason

Jason, Southern Maine University

The most important take away is service as a tool for healing. In the past I have tried different books, journaling, counseling, and a variety of other methods for dealing with the mind and painful memories. Service brought me selflessly to the moment and allowed me to write new chapters in my life rather than re-reading the old ones.

Katie

Katie, University of Southern Maine

Honestly, the teachers that were a part of this retreat were a huge part of why my experience was so full of learning. It has had a positive impact on my state of awareness and has allowed me to work on my blind spots. In a caring way, I felt pushed past my comfort zone which has allowed me to see how I respond to being vulnerable. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from so many amazing people and I look forward to continuing the journey towards becoming Yesplus Teacher.

Luisa

Luisa, Harvard University

I feel like the course helped me be more relaxed about my own speed of growth. I was better able to notice my weaknesses, which can be painful, but at the same time I also felt comfortable accepting them. This also helped me be more empathetic with people around me, by being less judgmental and harsh on myself and consequently on others.

Maddie

Maddie, University of Wisconsin, Madison

I feel as though something has opened up finally that has been locked away for a while. I am able to finally feel that deep love and joy once again and finally have broken the chains of whatever was straining me down. Thank you so so much for all the unconditional love, bonds and energy you all have given me the past few days. I’m so happy to finally be able to be speaking from my true heart. I feel such a dedication to spreading this feeling and knowledge to everyone.

Manuj

Manuj, Northeastern University

I learned so many things in this leadership training. But the facet of my life that I feel was most greatly affected by this training would have to be my ability to speak genuinely from my heart. I never even realized how important this conviction can be. I always focused on being articulate and charismatic but I now know that being genuine and making a connection with your audience are both equally important. This changed how I will approach speaking in general.

Meenakshi

Meenakshi, Cornell University

I learned that every team member is a leader, sometimes taking the role of guiding the group sometimes following the lead in concurrence with the broader vision. Being sensitive to the vibes of the teammates; vibes that may or may not be verbally expressed. Also carrying a readiness to let go of preconceived notions and working together with the consensus of group giving a 100%. Allowing teammates to make mistakes for their own realization and growth. Inspiring the team with commitment and responsibility. By just being on time and having the faith that all is well no matter what the end result it raises the team spirit to higher levels. An effective communicator is not necessarily the person who speaks perfectly worded language but one who speaks straight from the heart with conviction and authenticity, one who speaks with not just self-awareness but also an awareness of the audience by engaging them. Subtler truth is that presence matters; having an appealing appearance and setting up a pleasant environment is quite important.  Volunteering from a space of the “YES” mind, the mind that sees possibilities, from a space of faith, dispassion, and abundance. Constancy of meditation practices is vital to imbibe all this as it heightens awareness.

Nadia

Nadia, George Tech

I have skills, gifts, experience, that are there to put at the service of others, and there is no point in doubting or planning too much. If I think I could contribute in some way, I just need to get up and do it. I’ve stopped thinking about me as an individual and more about my set of skills and when and where to use them. That in very empowering and liberating. I also learned that joy and enthusiasm, and a sense of innocence are necessary to connect to the other´s hearts, which all come from within.

Ranjita

Ranjita, Johns Hopkins University

More than just learning how to organize on campus,I learned how to organize myself – my thoughts, my actions and definitely my words. I felt immense happiness and intense silence which I hope will continue in coming future. I experienced the power to be in present moment. There wasn’t even a single moment when I was complaining. Such an experiential training can’t be provided anywhere. On top of learning, it was so much fun to be with so many great minds, thinkers, revolutionaries and certainly dear friends. I loved every bit of it. I feel much more stronger inside which made my communication better. People around me can recognize the newly gained strength. I would love to spread this to everyone who will walk into my life.

Sneha

Sneha, Carnegie Mellon University

This program gave me the ability to identify my routine behavioral patterns and break out of them. I’m more aware if my mind vacillates between past and the future and I’m able to bring it back to the present with that awareness. I feel i’m more connected with my colleagues and friends. I ‘m able to trust others and love myself like never before. This program also deepened by daily practice SKY and meditation. This program strengthened  my belief that I’m in this world to give but not to take anything. I have realized being of service is the highest way of living.

Tim

Tim, UCLA

I learned about how to better communicate with others through connecting to them and to myself, and how to speak with conviction and authenticity, to more truly speak what I really meant. I learned another aspect of the immense power of spiritual practice in giving one peace, clarity of mind, and energy, even under prolonged conditions of very little sleep!  What changed me the most was seeing the immediate impact and power of the skills given and the processes undertaken in myself and the many people around me. The degree of transformation and growth amongst everybody was astounding.

Tushar

Tushar

The leadership retreat was invaluable for me because it showed me my strengths and specific areas for awareness and attention, which I might not have found easily otherwise. Now I am more confident and I know exactly what to do as I go out into the world to spread the knowledge. During the leadership retreat I also had the joy of lifting other up and encouraging them to share their ideas and to lead. It was truly enriching. Above all, I found a wonderful group of people I can look up to and who will be there to help whenever I need it. And I am sure others felt that way too!

Tyrell

Tyrell, University of Florida, Tampa

My most impactful experience was learning how thinking with a YES mind can empower me and open up various possibilities. I also feel more comfortable speaking from my heart rather than my intellect. I know believe that the intellect is not the only valuable human quality.

Vinitha

Vinitha, Carnegie Mellon University

I learnt to be comfortable in my own skin, to express my compassion and empathy stronger. I’m now very confident to speak up as I realize, if I don’t speak up, I’m responsible for the consequences. I learnt that It is ok to make mistakes and learn and it is also ok to be vulnerable in front of people. Vulnerability only increases mutual trust, there is nothing to be embarrassed of. I learnt about public speaking, increasing my capacity and feeling at peace at the same time.

Teaching Others to Thrive

Yesplus Graduates, Now Teachers

Ben Henretig

Ben Henretig

“I studied Film, Media and Technology at Stanford.  I did well, but often would lean on drugs to cope with stress. I felt like I was constantly behind and overworked; often, school felt like a burden. It was odd to be surrounded by so much opportunity — yet feel like I was treading water. The Yesplus course gave me to tools to drop the stress and negative emotions that blocked me from following my dreams. As a student or entrepreneur, you need to be comfortable taking on a lot of responsibility and coping with a great deal of uncertainty and stress — and the Yesplus course gave me the tools I needed to maintain balance while launching a successful venture. I decided to become a teacher of the Yesplus Course because I’ve realized that there is nothing more precious than peace of mind. When the mind is calm, anything is possible.”

~Ben Henretig, Graduate, Stanford University; Founder, Micro-Documentaries

Emma Seppala

Emma Seppala

“I took my first Art of Living course as a student at Columbia University. I was suffering from the side-effects of being a high-achieving student: stress. After learning the breathing techniques, I was able to stay more calm and energized and I discovered that I could be more productive, successful, and happy with this peaceful state of mind. I got A’s in all of my classes and got into the top graduate schools in the country, including Stanford University. While at Stanford, I continued practicing the breathing techniques and successfully worked towards my Ph.D., graduating ahead of many of the students in my cohort. I had become a Yesplus trainer, and taught Yesplus to hundreds of students on the Stanford campus, and even received a campus-wide honor from Stanford University, the Lyons Award, for contributing to wellness on campus. Yesplus practices have changed my life for the better and, perhaps more importantly, they have allowed me to give back to society in ways I formerly could only have dreamed of.”

~Emma Seppala, Ph.D., Associate Director, Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

Juan Mosquera

Juan Mosquera

“Yesplus has brought to me a sense of clarity, calmness, and focus that had gotten blocked by stress, worries and feverishness. It opened up a very sweet and innocent aspect to my life that I remembered being there in my childhood. I now have the ability to let things go, to just smile and laugh even through hard times. The practices and wisdom gained from this experience have been my biggest source of strength and rejuvenation for the past 6 years of my life.”

~ Juan Mosquera, Ohio State University.

 

Kimi Helton

Kimi Helton

I wholeheartedly believe that my life would not look anything like it does now without Yesplus.  I stumbled upon this program in college through a mass email, and it was the best decision I have made in my life to show up on the first day of the course.  That day marked the opening of countless doors over the next six years, and even now the doors are still opening.  I met incredible people that have changed my life (including my fiance) through Yesplus; found jobs, friends, unconditional support, and a community of like-minded people that are taking action for a better world, one breath at a time.  Through the practices taught at Yesplus, a new depth to my life has been opened.  I was introduced to tangible tools that helped me manage my stress and emotions, and wisdom that shifted my perspective into a more healthy, balanced, grateful, and positive mindset.  It’s as if I finally woke up and started to live my life the way I had always wanted to live it.  Something had awoken in my soul.  I thought, “Other people need to know about this!” and my journey to becoming a teacher began.  Teaching the course is less about teaching and more about sharing wisdom, and has empowered me to serve my community in the most impactful way I know.  I am entirely grateful for the beautifully resounding impact Yesplus has had on my life and those around me.”

~ Kimi Helton, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Mark Ball

Mark Ball

“I was in college and was looking for something that was original, uplifting, crazy. Although I was just looking for something fun and new, what I found was a pot of gold.  After doing the practices that I had learned on Yesplus, I’d leave with this huge smile on my face, completely clear about how I was going to get all my work done and, as a bonus, able to walk up and connect with any person I saw.  So impressed by the benefits of Yesplus, I learned how to teach it. After college, instead of going to the Peace Corps, I spent three years traveling around the U.S. teaching the course at colleges and universities.  After three years teaching the course, I took a job with Google (where I have been for the past seven years).  My new workmates would often ask how the heck a smile stayed on my face and how my head stayed clear even when the demands placed on us were so high. This led us to starting to teach Yesplus at Google too. Every 6 weeks there’s a course.  Googlers love it!”

~Mark Ball, Trainer, Google, Inc.

Nikhil Jain

Nikhil Jain

“I came to the US as an international graduate student from India in 2007 when I joined the MS program in Electrical Engineering. A friend who also joined the same university at the same time introduced me to the Yesplus program in early 2008. Before Yesplus, I felt like a misfit everywhere. Yesplus introduced me to a community where everyone welcomed me with open arms. The breathing practice taught in the program, along with all the practical wisdom that we discussed, gave me potent tools to deal with negative emotions and stress resulting from people and situations around me. Within a few months, I had taken many other programs with the Art of Living Foundation, along with repeating and organizing the Yesplus workshop in my university several times. Each time a friend of mine went through the program on my suggestion, they would come back feeling so grateful and happy that it provided me with a lot of contentment. I had the opportunity to meet the creator of Yesplus, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and shared with him how much Yesplus had enhanced the quality of my life.

“In 2010, I moved on to pursue my PhD at the University of Albany. I formed a Yesplus club, which became an instant hit with students and staff members. Within a couple of years, I had gone from being an underconfident backbencher to a strong campus leader. Soon I became a Yesplus teacher myself, inspired by a vision of promoting a “stress-free, violence-free society” on my campus. Over the last 7 years that I have been involved with the Yesplus community in the US, my life has transformed. Yesplus has given me an avenue to discover hidden skills like project planning and understand my own values of compassion, trust and leadership. The spiritual practices have made me unshakeable when facing criticism and adverse environments. I am a more self-aware and self-confident person now, and I have learned the ability to respond to situations with a calm and stable state of mind. I am utterly grateful to the friend who introduced me to this program and to every amazing person I have met along the way since then.”

~ Nikhil Jain, University of Albany

Shih-Ping Kuo

Shih-Ping Kuo

I am an international student from Taiwan and now am doing my doctoral study in college of education at Purdue University. Since my first YesPlus program in 2008, my body and mind became lighter, more energized, and sharper, day after day. I multi-task many things in my busy Ph.D life. I work as the research assistant, teaching assistant, took courses, did several research projects, involved into community services in the US and Taiwan. The regular practice of SKY supports me to progress smoothly in the super stressful process of the doctoral preliminary exam, and to effortlessly extend my creativity as a video-editor graduate assistant position on campus. I’ve gotten one journal article published and passed the prelim exam with great recognition from my academic committee members in 2012. 

Becoming a Yesplus teacher leading Yesplus programs and service projects on campus has supported me in becoming a stronger team leader and public speaker. I passed more than 100 of graduate student participants and entered the Top 11 of the 3-minute thesis competition at Purdue University in 2014.

Besides the above growth in my career and study, I have become calmer to accept all the loss and changes in life. I feel at ease with myself, and can more fully enjoy those around me. Living with constant changes, I have found YesPlus gives me the practical tools and knowledge to be more centered, content, and natural. The regular practices help me pursue whatever I need in life with less worries and stress. I am very grateful to learn from the YesPlus with those precious things in life: SKY breathing, yoga, meditation, the ancient life knowledge, and authentic friendships and support. It has really helped me a lot to adjust and open my life in a new country, and empowers me with tools to serve the society.

~Shih-Ping Kuo, Doctoral Student, Learning, Design, the Technology, Purdue University

Vatsav Raman

Vatsav Raman

“I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and my work involves dissecting out the molecular mechanisms that cause lung cancer. When I’m not geeking out in lab, I volunteer to teach yesplus. My journey started in 2006 in India when I first did the yesplus workshop on recommendation from a friend. Practicing SKY has had a significant impact on both my physical and mental health. I experienced a noticeable drop in my level of anxiety and an increased feeling of happiness immediately after the course. I moved to the US soon after to pursue a PhD in molecular biology at Cornell, and the knowledge that I gained from the workshop helped me with the transition and with the mental and emotional challenges of pursuing a doctorate degree at an Ivy League university. Impressed by how effective the techniques were, I naturally started recommending the workshop to my colleagues and eventually was inspired to volunteer and teach it myself.

“Teaching Yesplus is a way for me to give back to the student community. It enriches and complements what I do in my life. It has taught me how to express myself in an authentic and natural way, connect with people from all walks of life, be confident and more willing to take risks in order to reach my goals. Indeed, my work is a high-stress job: I invest long hours in lab peering down a microscope or carefully dissecting tumors, techniques that require precision and focus. Regular practice of SKY has made it easy for me to get my work done more efficiently, make fewer mistakes and save time. With this extra time, I can volunteer for the local LGBT community and pursue my passion for dancing. Life has become more complete, and I don’t feel the need to compromise on any aspect of it, thanks to SKY and yesplus!”

~ Vatsav Raman, Post-doctoral researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah