LifeForce Yoga® for Depression
News & Research
Issue: # 17 Winter/2008
The other day, a friend called and asked me to look at her list of characteristics for the perfect soul mate she was “attracting” into her life. Even if making the list helps manifest the partner my friend is seeking (and it may), will she be happy? I wonder if creating lists and visualizations keeps us focused on what we think is missing in our lives, instead of what we do have. In the past, when you received the accolade, the praise, the relationship, did it sustain your happiness? “You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy,” said the Jesuit priest, Anthony de Mello. “You need to drop something.” Yes, I know, he wasn’t looking for a human mate! Still, isn’t it true that happiness is there when everything else, including the list, dissolves? If I take a deep and conscious breath, I can feel it beneath the lonely mood or the worry about an approaching deadline or the uncomfortable night spent at Gate 9, Terminal A, during a Chicago snowstorm. Happiness isn’t even this idea of dropping something. It isn’t an idea or a concept. It isn’t even knowledge. It’s visceral, and all the senses are involved. It’s total absorption. Ask yourself what absorbs you completely, and do it now.
A loving namasté,
P.S. Please do read the announcement of the LifeForce Yoga® Mood Study results below. (Good news!)
In This Issue
NEWS: LifeForce Yoga Study Results
NEWS: Level 2 DVD in Post Production
RESEARCH: Yoga Therapy: Management of Patients with Schizophrenia
RESEARCH: Yogic Breathing Significantly Affects Mood
BOOK REVIEW: Iyengar the Yoga Master
MEDIA REVIEW: Integrative Restoration
RESOURCES: LifeForce Yoga
NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® Study Results
Since 2006, we have been gathering data at LifeForce Yoga® retreats and trainings. We are grateful to those of you who took the time to complete the mood surveys “Before” the beginning of the program, and to respond to our mailings by completing those surveys again two weeks later, then two months after that. These are preliminary results as the full report with more extensive analyses is currently in preparation for publication. If you would like more specific information about the variables measured, please e-mail Shannon Bennet: firstname.lastname@example.org
94 people filled out questionnaires prior to participating in a LifeForce Yoga® program and 54 people repeated these questionnaires two weeks after the program. For those 54 individuals a 64% decrease in total mood disturbance as measured by the Profile of Mood States Questionnaire (POMS) was reported, as well as a 53% decrease in average depression scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). For the 33 individuals who returned questionnaires two months after participating in a LifeForce Yoga® program, the overall mood disturbance scores continued to drop. In summary, participants mostly maintained the gains they had made two months after completing their training in the LifeForce Yoga protocol, even without further contact with the teacher or on-going classes.
Lead Investigator: Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D., Harvard University
Second Investigator: Shannon Bennett, M.A., UCLA
NEWS: Level 2 DVD in Post-Production
This past December we had a slight break in the weather to shoot a new DVD, LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues ~ Level 2! The DVD, shot in the same location, gives a more vigorous LifeForce Yoga practice and introduces more sound. You will be able to build on the energy from Level 1 as you dive into the tapas – that fire of change that Shiva energy brings. Kwan Yin also makes an appearance – a new amazing wooden statue – but I will leave you with baited breath until the DVD is ready to come out.
The DVD is still in the editing stages, but I would love to share some exclusive pictures from the shoot!
Amy, taking in the light of her practice:
Happiness Beyond Thought
Amy, opening the heart with “Yam” in Camel:
Using that Shiva energy:
Happiness Beyond Thought
We expect a spring release, stay tuned.
RESEARCH: Yoga Therapy in the Management of Patients with Schizophrenia
This randomized, controlled clinical trial, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience in India, compared the effects of yoga and physical exercise for individuals with schizophrenia. Participants included schizophrenia patients (age range 18-55 years) attending the out-patient and in-patient services of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bangalore, India.
The same therapist taught both the yoga and standard physical exercise programs. Both groups were led through their practices 1 hour a day; 5 days a week, for 3 weeks, and were encouraged to continue their practices for the following three months. All participants were on antipsychotic medications and remained on them throughout the intervention.
Compared to participants in the exercise group, participants in the yoga group showed greater social and occupational functioning and quality of life, as rated by an interviewer who did not know which group the participants were in.
For a longer summary of this study, please visit www.iayt.org
Or e-mail the study’s author: email@example.com
Publication: Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 116, 226-32. September 2007.
Research: Yogic Breathing Significantly Affects Mood
According to an article in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, online December 19, 2007, researchers led by Dr. Anette Kjellgren from the University of Karlstad, Sweden found that the practice of Sudharshan Kriya, yogic breathing exercises taught by the Art of Living Foundation, significantly reduced feelings of anxiety, stress and depression and elevated levels of optimism in fifty-five healthy adult volunteers as compared to a control group of forty-eight healthy volunteers who were told to relax in an armchair for fifteen minutes daily.
Tucson, AZ (February 13, 2008)
Phoenix, AZ (February 28, 2008)
Scottsdale, AZ (February 29, 2008)
Yoga Tools for Clinical Settings: Empower Your Clients to Manage Their Moods Seminar
Amy leads a seminar on using yogic techniques in clinical settings can help mental health clients improve their moods.
Bisbee Yoga Expo
Bisbee, AZ (February 16-18, 2008)
Bisbee Yoga Expo
Amy will be leading LifeForce Yoga Chakra Clearing Meditation as well as an all day intensive following the Expo.
Your Home (February 26, 2008) 9pm EST, 6pm PST
Free Openline: Yoga to Support Optimal Mental Health
Ask Amy anything you would like to know about using yoga for optimal mental health.
Los Angeles, CA (March 6-9, 2008)
Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research
Along with Richard Miller, founder of the Center of Timeless Being, Amy will be speaking on the psycho-spiritual challenge of depression, and leading a LifeForce Yoga Mood Managment session on Saturday.
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium
Washington, D.C. (March 12-16, 2008)
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium
Amy is the LifeForce Yoga Facilitator leading morning yoga, afternoon meditation and workshops.
Williow Street Yoga
Takoma Park, MD (March 16, 2008)
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
Amy will guide a practice of emotion-regulating pranayama, kriyas, and mantras, mood-lifting meditations and guided visualizations, and yoga asanas suitable for all levels.
Paradise Island, Bahamas (March 18-25, 2008)
Easter Symposium: Yoga and Sacred Healing
Amy will be leading workshops and classes during this week-long symposium in the Bahamas.
The Lotus Room
Tampa, FL (March 28-29, 2008)
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
Learn ancient yogic techniques, like pranayama, meditation, mudra and mantra to lift your mood.
Caribbean Ocean (March 30 – April 6, 2008)
A Taste of Health Cruise
Amy leads yoga classes and workshops on this Caribbean Cruise geared toward healthy living.
Chicago Yoga Center
Chigago, IL (April 11-13, 2008)
LifeForce Yoga: Meeting the Mood
Join Amy in the windy city as she interweaves the power of an ancient discipline with current scientific findings.
Lenox, MA (April 14-18, 2008)
Kripalu Symposium on Yoga Therapeutics: Chronic Pain
Amy leads a workshop on LifeForce Yoga Strategies for Chronic Pain and Depression.
California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Annual Conference
Southern CA (May 1 – 4, 2008)
LifeForce Yoga for Anxiety and Depression
Amy will be leading an experiential somatic approach to mood disturbance and treatment.
Watsonville, CA (June 13 – 17, 2008)
LifeForce Yoga: From Blues to Bliss
Amy will help you to cultivate the compassionate inner space that allows you to embrace life’s challenges with a peaceful mind and a courageous heart.
For Amy’s full teaching schedule, please visit
BOOK REVIEW: Iyengar The Yoga Master edited by Kofi Busia
This is a profoundly moving collection of essays written by master teachers about the man who has had more impact on the direction that Hatha Yoga has taken in the West than any other living master. I have a much better understanding of Mr. Iyengar than I did. Before reading this book, I considered him a “big stick” teacher who felt it necessary to break his students before putting them back together again. Reading these tributes to him by teachers I admire has allowed me to see that I have limited my experience of yoga, and I feel sad about that. I also see the heart in his harshness, how he truly cares for and has dedicated his life to his students.
There is no question that the structural understanding of human physiology and it’s malleability through the therapeutic application of yoga is unparalleled in an Iyengar-trained teacher, and now I see why. In essays by well-known senior Iyengar teachers like John Schumacker, Patricia Walden, Manouso Manos and Dona Holleman, and those who have studied with him and been deeply influenced by his teaching methodology and philosophy like Rama Jyoti Vernon, John Friend, Judith Hanson Lasater, and Rodney Yee we read how he has used his own body as a laboratory, practicing in silence twice a day, cultivating equanimity and self-awareness through his own sadhana (practice), and inspiring his students to do the same.
Busia, who is one of the world’s foremost teachers in the Iyengar tradition, has structured this book in a way that tells the history of Iyengar’s vast influence on Yoga in the West. Busia’s introduction documents, with humor and clarity born of hindsight, his reluctant journey nearly forty years ago, first to the Yoga mat and then to becoming a teacher. His essay gives us a glimpse of what it was like to be in the first wave of students enthralled by the master’s skill as a practitioner and teacher. In Rama Jyoti Vernon’s essay, we read of her misadventures in India, looking for Mr. Iyengar, as though searching for buried treasure, after reading Light on Yoga.
Busia introduces each contribution with a brief essay of his own. These brief pieces bring the tributes into focus through the clear lens of the Yoga Sutras, and place the contributors in their historical context.
There are tributes from the master T.K.V. Desikachar, whose father, Krishnamacharya, was Mr. Iyengar’s guru, as well as from the master teacher Dharma Mittra, and the yoga practitioner, writer, and actress, Ali MacGraw. There are also poignant remembrances from less well-known teachers around the world, who continue to inspire their students with the training they received from B.K.S. Iyengar–sometimes simply by watching him practice.
To order the book, click on the picture or visit: www.yogacharya.org/book/iyengar.html
MEDIA REVIEW: Integrative Restoration by Richard Miller, Ph.D.
Yoga Nidra CoverThis is not an unbiased review. This six-CD set by the psychologist, yogi, and contemporary spiritual teacher Richard Miller reminds me of why I asked him to be my mentor several years ago, and why I continue to study with him, attend retreats, and agreed to be a steward for the organization that supports his work, the Center of Timeless Being. Richard actually recorded this talk and the five accompanying Yoga Nidra (yogic meditation) as tapes several years before developing the specific protocol being used to successfully treat soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital who suffer from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But all the elements of the practices that he has adapted in a contemporary protocol of Yoga Nidra called iRest are here, and they are supremely suited to the challenges of modern life. Unlike simple relaxation techniques, in iRest, Richard does not guide us to relax. Deep and profound relaxation occurs, however, in the process of bringing the mind to attend to the body and the breath.
On the first disk, Richard lays out the philosophical foundation of Yoga Nidra, and the progressive steps of the practice. The five practices that follow advance from body sensing and breath awareness, on the second disk, through an awareness of the opposites of emotions and beliefs, all the way to an awareness of pure being, what Richard describes as true nature. One of my favorite portions of his guidance is the “Inner Smile” in practice four on the fifth CD in the series. Here, the smile in your heart is cultivated until it permeates all aspects of your being.
For some, conjuring the opposites of emotions, especially negative feelings, can at first feel uncomfortable. A few of my students tell me that they feel it keeps them in their thinking mind, or reminds them of what they feel isn’t working in their lives. But continued practice brings with it a sense of equanimity, more profound than the simple cultivation of positive feelings. When we are allowing the perception of negative mind states, emotions and beliefs into our consciousness and then feeling them in the body, along with their opposites, we begin to neutralize those darker emotions. We become aware of how much bigger we are than a particular or stuck feeling. We step back into a global “awareness of awareness itself.” (RM)
In the remastering of these original taped recordings, tracks were laid down, so that if you don’t have the 44 minutes or so to commit to an entire practice, you can create a shorter practice for yourself. I highly recommend that you take the time to practice the entire protocol as often as you can. Daily practice strengthens the vessel–your body, your psyche–so that you are more resiliant and calmer in the face of life’s challenges. I have Richard’s iRest on my IPod, and sometimes practice before I leave my bed in the morning, before I practice asana and pranayama or sit to meditate. Or sometimes I finish my morning sadhana with his guidance. I also practice on those early morning flights from Tucson to wherever I have to be in the world. I recommend this iPod-iRest practice to my students, especially those who wake up earlier than they might wish. Whenever you practice, these guided iRest Yoga Nidras are a wonderful way to bring more joy into your waking life, and to be reminded that, beneath the current mood, beneath the social mask, you are that joy.
To order, click on the picture above, or you can visit:
RESOURCES: LifeForce Yoga®
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
iREST YOGA NIDRA
Tools for deepening your awareness from the Center of Timeless Being by Richard Miller, Ph.D.
Free Weekly Yoga Sutra of Pantajali with commentary by Nischala Joy Devi
The author of “The Secret Power of Yoga” is offering a free weekly, positive-heart felt Yoga Sutra of Pantajali with commentary, via email.
Lynn Michaels, who is concerned about the side effects of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, the SSRIs, has founded a nonprofit organization and website to educate consumers on the potential dangers of antidepressants. The site safe & natural alternatives to SSRIs, including Yoga.
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 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 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.
Have a Healthy Mind
r. Richard P. Brown and Dr. Patricia L. Gerbarg offer integrative approaches for mental health and brain function that include herbs, nutrients, yoga, yogic breathing and meditation based on their research and clinical experience as psychiatrists and psycho-pharmacologists.
Thank you & Blessings,
Amy Weintraub & Rose Kress
LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute