LifeForce Yoga® for Depression
News & Research
In This Issue
NEWS: Tucson Retreat & Training Enrollment
NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® Tele-Classes
RESEARCH: Sudharshan Kriya & PTSD
RESEARCH: ‘No Separation’ Extends to Depression & Anxiety
RESEARCH: Bellows Breath Enhances Human Performance
BOOK REVIEW: Happiness Beyond Thought
BOOK REVIEW: Buddha Is As Buddha Does
RESOURCES – LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues
Issue: #14 Aug-Sept/2007
Namasté! Here in Tucson, the monsoon rains are filling the washes, so part of my morning practice includes pranayama and kriya along the rushing Rillito “river” bank, normally dry and barren. Who says there are no seasons in the desert?
How might you engage with the season in your practice? Maybe it’s simply noticing the changing light on a houseplant by the window as you stretch your body forward in a sun salutation. Or maybe it’s welcoming the morning sun with the Gayatri mantra, as you water your garden. Whatever your practice this season, may your garden flourish within and without.
In this newsletter, Rose and I review a couple of wonderful books. One is the latest by bestselling author and American Buddhist Lama Surya Das. The other is by a teacher in Pennsylvania whom you likely do not know. Gary Weber writes a lovely practice book that is grounded in his many years of study, on and off the mat, in non-dualism, Hatha Yoga, and Zen.
There are also a couple of interesting research studies included in this issue.
You’ll see a below a brief description of upcoming events. I’m especially excited to be going for the first time to Georgia. In September, I’ll be visiting Piedmont Hospital and Jai Shanti Yoga in Atlanta and the University Medical Center in Athens. And I’m honored to be returning to one of my favorite studios, Carol Hendershot’s Expressions of Grace Yoga in Grand Rapids. Carol just launched her beautiful new online store with products and information of interest to teachers and students alike.
I’m looking forward to Richard Miller’s upcoming Yoga Nidra training at Kripalu and hope to see many of you there.
Thanks to Pat Gerbarg, M.D., for pointing out that although it is likely that oxcytocin and prolactin levels are elevated after Yoga practice, there has not yet been a study that measures these levels before and after Yoga. On the other hand, I’m aware of two studies that do show a reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) after a Yoga session.
Finally, there are some changes on the www.yogafordepression.com website that you might find of interest. We’ve updated the CD page, and it’s now the Audio page with added links to the Yoga Spirit Tele-classes that I’ve offered this past year.
The Sun Never Says
All this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
with a love like that —
it lights the whole
In Tucson, the earth bows in gratitude to the monsoon rains.
NEWS: Tucson Retreat & Training Enrollment
Single Rooms Saguaro Cactus
We have a limited number of single rooms for the January Retreat and LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training, and they are filling up fast. They were sold out by the October 1st early bird deadline last year, so if a private room is important to you, you might want to register now.
We’re happy to have an expanded faculty this year, in addition to a longer retreat! To see who will be joining Amy & Rose to lead the LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training & Retreat click here.
NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® Tele-classes
Yoga Spirit Logo
Yoga Spirit is offering downloads of the live tele-classes I offered with host Deborah Rubin. There’s a three-part series on Yoga for depression that focuses on pranayama and kriya breathing. And there is a Chakra Clearing class, which is the first recorded instruction (with handout included) of the LifeForce Chakra Clearing Kriya. On Wednesday, November 14, at 6:00 pm PDT, 9:00 pm EDT, I’ll be teaching another interactive, experiential class: Nada Yoga & Bhavana: Using Sound and Imagery to Balance Mood. No matter where you live on the planet, we can talk!
RESEARCH: Sudharshan Kriya Successful in Treating PTSD
The May/June, 2007 issue of Psychology Today contained an article about a collaborative study on the effects of Sudharshan Kriya, a Yoga breathing protocol, on post-traumatic stress as applied to survivors of the Tsunami at a refugee camp in India. The article gave national press to the important findings: “All the yoga users experienced a huge drop in scores for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression after just four days. And the effect was so persistent that Gerbarg and her team introduced yoga to those in the control group too. Counseling provided no added benefits over the yoga training alone.” However, lead author, Patricia Gerbarg, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, would like to set the record straight. The study was a collaborative effort with The Victim Services Center of Miami (VSCM), the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience of India and the International Association of Human Values, and although she designed the study, managed it and analyzed the data, Teresa Descilo, Executive Director of the VSCM organized the study on the site.
“This was a comparative controlled study using 2 interventions,” says Gerbarg. “One intervention was the Breath Water Sound Course, (a short 8-hour version of the Art of Living Course) to which we added a 10 minute Sudarshan Kriya Practice.” The Sudharshan Kriya Practice is taught by the Art of Living Foundation and incorporates a series of Yogic breathing practices that likely stimulate the vagus nerve, a known treatment for depression. One group of 60 victims was given the Yogic intervention. Another group of 60 survivors was given the yoga course along with psychological counseling. A third group served as controls.
Gerbarg and her colleagues presented this study at the American Psychiatric Association meetings in May 2007 in San Diego.
RESEARCH: ‘No Separation’ Extends to Depression and Anxiety
Based on a study published in the June, 2007 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry that followed 1037 people born in New Zealand between 1972 and 1973 until they were 32 years old, it is equally likely that those suffering from major depression (MDD) will develop anxiety (GAD) as the other way around. “Comorbidity” (a state in which more than one disorder is experienced) is much more prevalent than what was previously thought.
This finding suggests what Yogis have understood for thousands of years-that depression and anxiety are often not separate disorders, but rather on a continuum. What this means in terms of a Yogic approach to treatment is that there is no single formula to treat depression, nor a single formula to treat anxiety. Rather, there is a menu of practices that can help bring balance back into the physical and emotional body. Some practices have a more energizing effect, some a more calming effect, and some create a state of both mental alertness and physical calmness. The practices recommended for someone who is currently experiencing anxiety and another who is currently experiencing depression may be quite similar. Rather, it is the sequencing of the practices that will vary, as each yoga session attempts to meet the current mood and bring the emotions back into balance.
RESEARCH: Bellows Breath Enhances Human Performance
Bellows Breath (Mukh Bhastrika) has been shown to reduce reaction time (RT), which is an index of improved sensory-motor performance and enhanced processing ability of the central nervous system. In a study at the the Jawaharal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research in Pondicherry, both visual reaction time and auditory reaction time where reduced in 22 subjects after practicing nine rounds of Bellows Breath. “Mukh bhastrika may be improving this processing ability by i) greater arousal and faster rate of information processing ii) improved concentration power and/or iii) ability to ignore or inhibit extraneous stimuli,” say the study’s authors.
CALENDAR HIGHLIGHTS: Fall
Jai Shanti Yoga
Atlanta, GA (September 21-23, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood
You’ll learn strategies that can help alleviate both depression and anxiety and methods to safely release chronically held tension and repressed emotion in the physical and emotional body.
Atlanta, GA (September 24, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood – Free Public Talk & Book Signing
Amy will give a free talk about the empowering effect of using ancient Yogic practices, backed up by current scientific evidence, to manage your mood. Afterwards Amy will sign books, CDs & DVDs. 5:30 – 7:00pm.
University of Georgia
Atlanta, GA (September 26, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® as an Adjunct Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
Amy will lead an evidence-based in-service training for medical and mental health professionals.
Expressions of Grace Yoga
Grand Rapids, MI (September 28-30, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® for Mood Management Weekend
Learn how to assess the mood – yours and your students, and design a menu of practices to meet you where you are.
Pittsburgh, PA (October 14, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® to Live Your Bliss
Learn Yogic strategies to dissolve the obstacles to the free flow of joy and love in your life.
Lenox, MA (October 21-26, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training ~ Level 2
Amy leads Level 2 of the LifeForce Practitioner Training for those that have previously taken the LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training.
Lenox, MA (October 26-28, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues
Spend a fall weekend in the Berkshires with Amy as she guides you through a LifeForce Yoga® Weekend to lift and balance your mood.
Venice Beach, CA (November 2-4, 2007)
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood
In a safe and accepting environment, you’ll learn yogic strategies that can help you maintain your optimum mental health and methods to safely release chronically held tension and repressed emotion in the physical and emotional bo
Your Home (November 14, 2007, 9pm EDT, 6pm PDT
Nada Yoga & Bhavana: Using Sound and Imagery to Balance Mood
Invite Amy into your home as she guides you through various mantras combined with images to calm and lift the mood.
For Amy’s full teaching schedule, please visit
BOOK REVIEW by Amy Weintraub
Happiness Beyond Thought Happiness Beyond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Gary Weber, (iuniverse Press, 2007)
Gary Weber writes seamlessly and his Non-dual wisdom is clear throughout. Happiness Beyond Thought is a practical book that offers strategies for seekers on the road to enlightenment. Weber generously and passionately shares every trick in the book, a book that began more than 2,500 years ago, and includes the many practices and queries that have supported him on his own journey to becoming a self realized in Self. For Weber, his realization has meant the dissolution of the individual “I.” Although he acknowledges that the awakening experience may be spontaneous, he argues that for the experience to be sustained, preparation is necessary. Without “preparation of the neurological structure” and a “context in which to support the experience,” the “apparent enlightenment” soon fades. Weber includes asana, breathing, chanting, meditation, self-inquiry, affirmation and diet as steps that prepare the seeker to settle in to an awakened state once enlightenment has been experienced. The practices quiet the mind for deep inquiry, which in the tradition of the enlightened masters Weber has studied, he himself has used to awaken. In the spirit of this awakening through practice and inquiry, a question precedes each offering, be it Weber’s, Ramana Maharshi’s, Shankara’s, or the Bhagavad Gita’s
The book proceeds through a series of logical questions as section headings. For example in the section, How do you use physical postures (asana) for awakening?, Weber recommends a meditative approach to practicing Hatha Yoga through the practice of flowing sequences coordinated with the breath that, once learned, can be practiced with the eyes closed. In the next section, he elaborates on three recommended sequences. What makes his approach unique is the development of meditative awareness in the asana, first through counting the exhalations as the pose is held in order to develop concentration, and then through the use of inquiry. He suggests several useful questions in poses, questions that Ramana Maharshi guided his students to ask of themselves in meditation, like “Who am I?”, “Where am I?”, “What is doing this asana?”, and recommends finding the one question that serves you. “This is not about getting the right intellectual answer,” says Weber, “or saying it over and over again as a mantra. It’s about feeling the question deeply within.”
With commentary and poetry, Weber explicates core teachings that he feels are essential in both their power to awaken and their accessibility. He begins with Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram or Essence of the Teachings, a practical guide from a nearly modern (within the last 100 years) awakened master. Gary’s interpretative instructions are clear in their advocacy of practice as the doorway in, i.e. a way to still the mind in preparation for an inquiry that may reveal your true nature.
Next, he translates and comments on six verses written over 1200 years ago by the realized master Shankara. This is a beautiful rendition of the Advaita Vedanta practice of neti neti, “not this, not this,”-the practice of negating identification with narrow aspects of self, while affirming the truth of who you really are. If you’re interested in non-dualism, I would encourage you to consider Happiness Beyond Thought for your library, if for nothing else, Weber’s clear explanation of these two awakened masters.
Weber shares and interprets twelve versus from the 2,500 year-old Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God, that have been seminal in his own awakening.
After logging in thousands of hours of Yoga practice, meditation, mantra chanting, and study, Weber’s own enlightenment occurred during a pose. “I went into it one way and came out of it completely transformed,” he says of his experience. “Thought as a continuing phenomenon just stopped. The ‘I’ was blown out like a candle in the wind.” He goes on to discuss the stages of settling in when one has had an awakening, but he warns against fixating on a model. “As long as there is a mind or an ‘I’ trying to construct such a state with its tools, enlightenment cannot happen.” This book is not a formula for enlightenment, however it helps the seeker prepare the ground so that when the personal “I” dissolves, the foundation of self remains solid.
Happiness Beyond Thought offers a treasure chest of practices for the serious practitioner seeking liberation. On your own journey towards awakening, savor these simple, easy to follow practices culled from Weber’s study with his primary teacher Ramana Maharshi, his on-going exploration of Zen meditation practice, and the life-enhancing results of his experiments on the laboratory floor of his yoga mat.
BOOK REVIEW by Rose Kress
Lama Surya Das Buddha Is As Buddha Does: The Ten Original Practices of Enlightened Living by Lama Surya Das (HarperSanFrancisco, 2007)
In his wisdom, the Buddha left the Bodhisattva Code; a means of practice by which each one of us has the potential to become a Bodhisattva, one who vows to work for the freedom of all other beings. In Buddha Is As Buddha Does, Lama Surya Das offers us a guide to adapting the Bodhisattva Code to our modern consumer culture. In practice, says Surya Das, a Bodhisattva endeavors to be a “helpful spiritual altruist, an activist, and even a service-oriented leader as well as a seeker of wisdom, truth, unconditional love, deathless peace and ultimate enlightenment” (xiv).
Through stories and teachings, Buddha is as Buddha Does provides an in-depth view of the ten original practices for enlightened living, or paramitas. These ten transformative practices are: generosity, ethics, patience, heroic effort, mindfulness, wisdom, skillful means, spiritual aspirations, higher accomplishments and awakened awareness. Each chapter is devoted to a paramita and contains teachings surrounding the principle, practices to help enhance the paramita in your life, and inspiring stories of historical and contemporary Bodhisattvas. The personal narratives deepen our understanding and appreciation of what a Bodhisattva is and what each paramita does. In the chapter on Patience, Lama Surya Das gives the example of one of his teachers, Lama Norlha, who worked tirelessly for 49 days to feed thousands of beggars in India. Many times he slept no more than 2 hours a night so that he could get up to begin cooking. Through his tireless generosity, Lama Norlha provided an example of generosity and many others in the community began to devote their time and energy to helping him feed the poor. (35-36).
This book provides tools like meditations, journaling topics, and step by step guides to integrate a particular paramita into your life. These applications help you to delve into your own Buddha nature. The Bodhisattva, according to Lama Surya Das, brings out the best in everyone. The author shows us, not only how we might live from the authentic light that shines within each one of us, but how that authentic inner light, “the jewel in the lotus,” can be a beacon for others. Every description, example, and recommendation provides a window to look at our thoughts, our words, and our actions, on a moment to moment basis, so that we may become more skillful in our relationships with others and ourselves. For example, in the chapter on patience, the author provides the Six Steps to Anger Management, which, he says, is similar to a Kindergartner counting to ten to gain time to think before acting. Ultimately, the “gift of patience is truly a gift to your self…you share your strength with someone and become stronger yourself in the process” (103).
This highly readable contemporary presentation of these ancient practices can inspire each one of us to become a liberator of our own lives, while providing the example of freedom and enlightened living for all other beings.
RESOURCES – LifeForce Yoga® DVD
LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues – Level 1
“LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues is a blending of art, science, research and Amy’s years of dedication to mastering the practice of Yoga. This is a DVD that I will enjoy, and continue to learn from, for years to come.” – Richard Miller, PhD – President, The Center of Timeless Being; author, Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga
“No matter what your mood, Amy’s unique LifeForce Yoga® program will bring you balance and joy. I loved this practice!” – Lilias Folan, PBS Host; author, Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age
· 75 minute video (DVD) practice, led by Amy Weintraub
· 12 Programmable Chapters shot in HD
· Original music by William Chapman + Music from Krishna Das, MJ Bindu Delekta
· Includes a Study Guide booklet
· Shot on-location in Tucson, AZ by Emmy- award winning Director of Photography, Dan Duncan.
***Winner of 4 Bronze Telly Awards!***
Cultivating Will: Standing Poses
Will and Willingness: Backbending Poses
Will and Surrender: Forward Bends and Twists
Surrender: Yoga Nidra
This unique DVD showcases the integrative practice of LifeForce Yoga® designed especially for mood management. Invite Amy into your home to lead you through comprehensive breathing techniques, toning, and postures to awaken your physical energy and calm your busy mind.
Shot on location in Tucson, Arizona, Amy invites practitioners into the loving embrace of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kwan Yin, “she who hears the cries of the world.” In the sacred space Amy creates, students begin to feel and safely experience their bodies and their emotions. The practice culminates with yoga nidra, or deep relaxation, in which participants integrate the experience and return to full wakefulness feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
For more information and to order, please visit Amy’s web site: www.yogafordepression.com
Free Weekly Yoga Sutra of Pantajali with commentary by Nischala Joy Devi
Starting September 1st, The author of “The Secret Power of Yoga” is offering a
free weekly, positive-heart felt Yoga Sutra of Pantajali with commentary, via email.
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. You can subscribe by emailing
International Association of Yoga Thereapists
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 vicinity. (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 encourage you to become a member. www.iayt.org
“When we look at unity through the instruments of the mind, we see diversity; when the mind is transcended, we enter a higher mode of knowing – turiya, the fourth state of consciousness – in which duality disappears.”
From the Introduction to The Bhagavad Gita as Introduced and Translated by Eknath Easwaran (Nilgiri Press, 1985, 2007)
A warm Jai Bhagwan,
LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute
“Amy Weintraub’s work is some of the most important in our world today for helping humanity understand more deeply the significane 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 expereinces depression and in the library of every therapist who works with people suffereing 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