LifeForce Yoga® for Depression Research & News
From Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT (500),
author, Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books)
Dear Friends, Colleagues & Students,
I recently enjoyed a workshop with the yogi Mark Whitwell, author of Yoga of Heart: The Healing Power of Intimate Connection, who said something simple and yet profound:
Wake down, not up.
It’s wonderful advice, I think, to stay grounded in our bodies. Our bodies are always in the present moment, and when we can listen to the messages they send us, we are more present and aware, and less likely to feel overwhelmed by the challenges life brings or the 50,000 thoughts that pass through our minds each day.
It’s especially important to “wake down, not up,” during the holidays and their aftermath, when it’s easy to get caught in the waves of emotion—sad feelings about feeling separate, worried feelings about buying gifts and other holiday preparations, restless feelings beneath the grey skies of January, joyous feelings when we do connect with friends and loved ones. All of these emotions are part of the human experience.
One of the gifts that our yoga practice provides is the cultivation of the observing mind. When we can remain present to the sensations in our bodies as we move and breathe, we are cultivating that present moment awareness that supports the development of the witness, what yogis call the Seer. It is from this place, that we can observe with equanimity our changing moods.
Current research in neuroscience supports this yogic understanding. In an article by trauma recovery researcher and clinician Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D., “Clinical Implications of Neuroscience Research in PTSD,” which appeared in the June, 2006 issue of the Annals New York Academy of Science, Dr. Van der Kolk says, “Once [traumatized individuals] realize that their internal sensations continuously shift and change [by attending to their inner experience] particularly if they learn to develop a certain degree of control over their physiological states by breathing, and movement, they will viscerally discover that remembering the past does not inevitably result in overwhelming emotions.”
You will see some preliminary results that support this contention below, in a report on the results of Susan Franzblau and her colleagues work at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, in offering pranayama breathing instruction to victims of domestic violence.
May your practice provide an oasis of calm strength as you move through the winter season.
Welcome to the 10th issue of LifeForce Yoga® for Depression News!
In this issue, we’ll be reporting current research and news of interest about yoga and mental health. I’ll highlight the events, workshops and trainings scheduled through March, and I’ll offer a brief personal review of yogi/musician Russill Paul’s work.
Please feel free to share this information with your friends, colleagues, clients and students.
NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® DVD
We’ve finished production of our first DVD, LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues—Level I, which I hope to have available by the Tucson Retreat and Training in January. I am very happy with the production values. Not only was national award-winning Director of Photography Dan Duncan responsible for the creative shooting and editing in HD, but he was a joy to work with. Musician and composer Bill Cashman, of Cavern Recording Studios in Tucson, composed the original score. Longtime yoga teacher and friend, Bindu M.J. Delekta, of Sacred Circle of Yoga on Martha’s Vineyard, www.sacr edcircleofyoga.com whose rendering of the Gayatri mantra and Om Namo Bhagavate are dear to my heart, recorded those chants for the open and close. And pranams and thanks to Krishna Das who shared his recording of “Hara Hara Mahaadeva Shaambho,” from One Track Heart with us for our lively joint warm up. www.krishnadas.c om.
As I write this, we’re busy preparing the study guide, packaging design, marketing and distribution. Rose and I are learning as we go, the ins and outs of DVD distribution. Check the web site in January for a glimpse and ordering information. www.yoga fordepression.com
Pranayama & Testimony Therapy increased Self-Efficacy in Battered Women
In this first controlled study to examine the effects of pranayama breathing on self-efficacy, the term that is used to describe a sense of having control over one’s life, the researchers found that although some factors improved for all treatment conditions, the greatest effect on self-efficacy for the battered women in the study was derived from the combination of testifying about the abuse to a trained listener and learning pranayama breathing exercises.
In addition to physical injury, battered women often suffer from depression, low self-efficacy, post- traumatic stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. According to the authors, “when a woman experiences abuse, the lack of support and loss of self-confidence can result in increased feelings of hopelessness.” Therefore improving self-efficacy is an important first step in increasing battered women’s sense of self-worth and confidence so that they may be able to make the changes in their lives that will free them from the abusive pattern.
In this study, both the group that had the opportunity to offer testimony of abuse to a trained listener of the same race, and the group who was offered pranayama breathing instruction, showed improvement, as compared to the control group on the waiting list. However, the most significant improvement was measured in the group who participated in both Testimony and Pranayama instruction.
This study was supported by a grant from the National Center of Minority Health and Health Disparities, NIH, and conducted at Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, NC.
Franzblau S H, Smith M, Echevarria S, Van Cantford, TE. Take a Breath, Break the Silence: The Effects of Yogic Breathing and Testimony About Battering on Feelings of Self-Efficacy in Battered Women. International Journal of Yoga Therapy. 2006; 16: 49-57.
Correspondence: Susan H. Flanzblau, PhD. email@example.com
RESEARCH: Hospital Survey on CAM
Alternative Medicine Going Mainstream
The survey, conducted and published by the American Hospital Association every two years, shows the percentage of hospitals offering one or more CAM services increased from 8% in 1998 to 27% in 2005.
Contrary to popular belief, researchers found that complimentary and alternative medicine offerings were most common in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) and less common on the West Coast. The least common areas to offer CAM services were in the South (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee).
The top six complementary and alternative medicine services offered on an outpatient basis among hospitals offering CAM were massage therapy (71%); tai chi, yoga, or chi gong (47%); relaxation training (43%), acupuncture (39%); guided imagery (32%), and therapeutic touch (30%).
Ananth, S. “Health Forum 2005 Complementary and Alternative Medicine Survey of Hospitals,” July 19, 2006. News release, American Hospital Association.
Mindfulness and substance use in an incarcerated population
This study analyzed the effects of nine Vipassana meditation interventions conducted at a minimum- security adult jail in Seattle, Washington over a period of 15 months. 305 inmates (mean age = 39) began the study, 173 completed a post-course assessment, and 78 completed a 6-month follow-up. Each intervention followed the basic format of Vipassana retreats: participants practiced for up to 11 hours a day, and were asked to refrain from speaking to each other. They were taught breath awareness, relaxation, and non-reactive observation of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. An unusual aspect of this intervention is that the participants were housed separately from other inmates during the 10-day course, and were not allowed outside contact. Men and women were taught in separate groups.
The study reports that participants showed significant reductions in substance use (alcohol, marijuana, and crack cocaine) compared to other inmates who received standard rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment. Participants also reported greater decreases in psychiatric symptoms and greater increases in internal locus of control and optimism.Among inmates who were released from prison during the study, there were no differences in recidivism rates. However, the overall recidivism rates may have been too low (13%) or the study period too brief to detect long-term differences.
Bowen, S., Witkiewitz, K., Dillworth, T.M., Chawla, N., Simpson, T.L., Ostafin, B.D., Larimer, M.E., Blume, A.W., Parks, G.A., & Marlatt, G.A. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2006 Sep;20 (3):343-7.
Correspondence: Sarah Bowen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tucson LifeForce Yoga® Retreat & Training
As I write this, we have two places left for our January retreat in Tucson. If you are interested, please contact Rose to see if space remains: email@example.com, 520 349-2644.
Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research
Los Angeles, CA (January 18 – 21)
I look forward to seeing many of you at the first International Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research (www.iayt.org) in Los Angeles, January 18 – 21st, where author and founder of Somatic Yoga Eleanor Chriswell, EdD, and I will be moderating a panel on the Emotional Aspects of Yoga Therapy, with senior researchers and teachers Ian Cook, MD, David Shapiro, PhD, Marla Apt (senior Iyengar teacher), Swami Ramananda, Richard Miller, PhD, and Shanti Kaur Khalsa, PhD.
I’ll also be teaching a class/workshop on Yoga for the treatment of depression at the Symposium.
Lenox, MA (February 2 – 4)
I’ll be back at “home,” to teach at Kripalu in Lenox, MA, on the first weekend in February (2/2—2/4), offering LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues. CEU’s are available for this program. http: //www.kripalu.org/presenter/28
Yes to Yoga
Estero, FL (February 11)
I’ll be offering a professional day-long workshop on LifeForce Yoga® Therapy for Mood Management for yoga teachers and other healing professionals at Yes to Yoga in Estero, Florida, on Saturday, February 10th. http://www. yestoyoga.com/
Fort Meyers, FL (February 12)
On Sunday, February 11th, I’ll be in Fort Meyers, FL, offering, LifeForce Yoga® to Live Your Bliss, a fun afternoon of yoga, breathing and chanting for all levels, including beginners at Joyful Yoga. http://www.j oyfulyoga.com/
Bisbee Yoga Expo
Bisbee, AZ (February 17 -18)
I’m happy to be joining my fellow Arizona yoga teachers in Bisbee, Arizona, at the Bisbee Yoga Expo, offering workshops on both Saturday and Sunday, February 17th & 18th. www.bis beeyogaexpo.com
Austin, TX (March 2 – 4)
I love to teach at The Crossings in the Texas Hill Country, near Austin. I’ll be there teaching LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues March 2 – 4th. For more information call 877-944-3003 or visit www.thecrossingsaustin.com.
Pyschotherapy Networker Symposium
Washington, D.C. (March 15 – 18)
Later in the month (3/15-3/18), I’ll be seeing many friends in the psychotherapy world, at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in Washington DC, where I’ll be offering a pre-conference day-long workshop, a clinical presentation, morning yoga and afternoon meditation sessions.
Washington, D.C. (March 18)
After the Symposium, I’ll return to Spiral Flight Yoga Studio in D.C. on March 18th to offer a 4-hour workshop for all levels, including beginners. www.spir alflightyoga.com
YOGA OF SOUND 3-CD BOX SET, Russill Paul
Early in the morning, before sunrise, I am most often on my mat, practicing asana. For years, I didn’t play music when I practiced, but preferred to cultivate my own inner listening to sensation, breath, and my personal mantra with the surround of silence. Then, two years ago, I discovered Russill Paul’s chanting CD’s. Now, I alternate his Shabda Yoga for a Vedic experience with his Shakti Yoga for a Tantric experience. I chant with Russill or simply feel the vibration of his resonant voice surrounding me as I practice. His web site lists a number of CD’s, but the best buy seems to be the The Yoga of Sound 3-CD Boxed Set, which is designed as a complete chanting program. This is how he describes the music on his web site. “It contains three CD’s that you can use collectively to develop power, wisdom and beauty in your voice through the specific qualities of Vedic, Tantric and Devotional mantras featured in Shabda, Shakti and Bhava Yoga. They can also be used for your morning, noon and evening practice of mantra, yoga or meditation.”
McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Weekly
In his excellent on-line newsletter, editor/writer John McManamy reports on current research, particularly related to pharmaceuticals. However, he also keeps readers in the know about complementary treatments, new books and other resources. John is working on a book about bipolar disorder. You can subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Subscribe” in the heading and your email address in the body. www.mcmanweb.com
International Association of Yoga Therapists This organization maintains a vast database of Yoga research, a library, publishes a yearly journal, and a tri-annual newsletter with current research and articles. In addition, IAYT maintains a searchable online member database, which folks can use to locate a Yoga therapist/teacher in their local area. (They currently do not do any verification of training and experience.) If you are a health professional, a Yoga teacher or therapist or have an interest in Yoga therapeutics, I highly encourage you to become a member. www.iayt.org
Yoga for Depression
To learn move about Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books)
Blessings on recovering and maintaining your positive mental health!
“Amy Weintraub’s work is some of the most important in our world today for helping humanity understand more deeply the significance of the mind-body connection. Her in-depth understanding of her subject is an important basis for personal, as well as societal transformation.”
—Rama Jyoti Vernon, Founder, American Yoga College
“Amy Weintraub’s Yoga for Depression belongs in the hands of every person who experiences depression and in the library of every therapist who works with people suffering from depression.”
—Richard C. Miller, PhD, author of Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga and founding editor of The International Journal of Yoga Therapy