Dr Georgi Lozanov, head of the Institute of Suggestology and Parapsychology of Bulgaria, believes that he has created a teaching method based on the same principles as those used in yoga nidra and it has been shown that it speeds up the learning process 50 times, bypassing the circuitous paths of present day teaching. His method increases memory retention, requires virtually no effort on the part of the student, reaches retarded and brilliant, young and old alike, and is said to require no special equipment. He supports his claims with thousands of controlled trials and the fact that hundreds of people from all levels of society have been able to learn languages in 20 days instead of years.
"It is a kind of mind to mind contact between teacher and students, based on yoga techniques, and Lozanov calls it, 'Suggestopedia'." *1 Dr Lozanov says that it is not hypnosis or sleep learning, but far more practical as the student is fully awake and in complete control of himself. His method is based on. the yoga technique of relaxation. Both suggestopedia and yoga nidra use shavasana to allow the subject to open up the powers of the subconscious mind while turning off the focus of attention from external action and sounds.
"Using suggestion and auto-suggestion, muscle tension is relaxed and the brain relieved of the usual anxieties and stresses. In this relaxed 'free state of consciousness' or meditative state, fatigue quickly vanishes. Freed from all distractions which hamper its functioning, the brain resembles a sponge able to absorb knowledge of all kinds. The secret of the technique is that material doesn't reach the memory in the ordinary way, because the student doesn't participate consciously in the process. Instead, he has 'a calm, intuitive perception of the material presented".*2
Tests show that during the performance of the learning process, alpha waves predominate indicating relaxation, and memory and intelligence are seen to improve for some time after the suggestopedia session. Though the students feel that during the procedure they learn nothing, as their minds are tuned to background music and not to the instructions on language and grammar that are given, they are surprised to find that the next day they can easily read, speak and write from 120 to 150 new words absorbed during the 2 hour session. The music allows relaxation to occur, countering the tensing effects of grammar and language training. Thus the grammar and other difficult parts of the course are painlessly implanted during the receptive mood so that after one month two to three thousand words have been absorbed. Tests indicate they still know the words one year later.
To try to uncover the limits of memory, Lozanov took a 15 minute class in which 15 lessons from a French grammar book, with about 5oo new words, were given. A written test immediately and 3 days later showed "all the words had been retained".*3 By leaning back and relaxing, you can learn without, effort and without even being Conscious of the learning process. This experience demonstrates the power of the mind and its ability to fulfil human potential.
Lozanov has shown that the process is not dependent on faith. A commission to investigate his claims was given first hand experience and at the end of several weeks emerged fluent in a previously unknown foreign language despite many firm beliefs that the technique was a fraud. Thus it appears that the processes of suggestopedia and yoga nidra work through the power of the unconscious mind.
Because of the success of this method the Bulgarian Ministry of Education founded the centre for suggestopedia at the Institute of Suggestology and Parapsychology in 1966. In Moscow the Foreign Languages Pedagogical Institute used the method with phenomenal success as reported in Pravda, July 1969. Lozanov stated that thousands of people, especially students, were on the waiting lists at his Institute, and this interest is easily understandable when we consider the results claimed by this new teaching method.
*1-*3. S. Ostrander & L. Schroeder, 'Supernormal Powers of the Mind Revolutionize Education", Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, Bantam Books, 1971.