Gentle Iyengar and LifeForce Yoga for Women with Major Depression

In a randomized and controlled, mixed-methods study conducted at the University of Virginia, Patricia Kinser and her colleagues compared an 8-week yoga intervention with an attention-control group focused on health and wellness.  While both decreased symptoms of major depression in the 27 women enrolled in the study, the yoga group had a unique trend in decreased ruminations.  Ruminations usually result in a lot of negative self-talk.  Participants in the yoga group reported experiencing increased connectedness and gaining a coping strategy through yoga. Dr. Kinser, the lead author of the study, is also a yoga teacher and LifeForce Yoga Practitioner.  She wrote a manual for the yoga teachers who delivered the yoga protocol, in which the essential elements of LifeForce Yoga were covered, including “setting the safe and sacred container,” “meeting the mood with the practice,” “permission to adapt,” and pranayama breathing practices.  The physical postures were designed as a gentle practice, incorporated from Iyengar and Kripalu Yoga.

dvd-level-1-coverParticipants were guided at home by selections from the LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues – DVDand weekly handouts with class themes, pictures and descriptions of the poses practiced in class that week. The control group attended an 8-week series of health education sessions titled “Health and Wellness Program,” involving lectures and video. According to the authors, “…participants in the study were encouraged to use yogic practices in a way that best met their daily needs, which differentiates this yoga intervention from others in the literature that do not account for individual mood differences.”

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Kinser, P., Bourguignon, C., Whaley, D., Hauenstein, E., Taylor, A.G. (in press). “Feasibility, acceptability, and effects of gentle Hatha yoga for women with major depression” Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.

 

About the Author

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub E-RYT 500, MFA, YACEP, C-IAYT, founded the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally, and is the author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. The LifeForce Yoga protocol is used by health care providers worldwide. She is involved in ongoing research on the effects of yoga on mood.

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“I integrate strategies like mantra tones and pranayama, but above all I invite myself and those I teach to cultivate svadhyaya, to practice self-observation without judgment.” — Barbara Sherman, RYT 200, LFYP, Tucson, AZ
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I absolutely love this stuff! I have been using it with my clients and I am just finding it to be so incredibly helpful. There seriously something for everything. Although I am not as skilled as I hope to be someday, even at my level of training I’m finding that I am beginning to figure out what to do. It just blows my mind! - Christine Brudnicki, MS, LPC
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“Giving my clients a strategy and permission to quiet their minds and rebalance the sympathetic nervous system has been very beneficial to them and in our work together.” — Sue Dilsworth, PhD, RYT 200, LFYP, Allendale, MI
“A client who returned said, "When I came before, you helped me understand and get where I wanted to go. Now you show me yoga practices I use to help myself understand and get where I want to go.” — Sherry Rubin, LCSW, BCD, LFYP, Downingtown, PA
“I have gained an incredible opening and clearing of old obstructions. I hope to return to my life and fill this opening with things I love to do and that give me joy!” — Lisa Shine, administrative assistant, Ballston Lake, NY
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“I began a fantasy during the meditation exercise... almost as if I’d been there. It’s now an on-going work of fiction.” — Serian Strauss, Tanzania
“I have found the LFYP training to be incredibly useful in giving people specific tools to use in maintaining physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance, and further opening their intuitive abilities.” — Nancy Windheart, RYT-200, LFYP, Reiki Master, Animal communication teacher, Prescott, AZ
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“Yoga Skills for Therapists is the ideal resource for those who want to bring yoga practices into psychotherapy or healthcare. Weintraub, a leader in the field of yoga therapy, offers evidence-based, easy-to-introduce strategies for managing anxiety, improving mood, and relieving suffering. Helpful clinical insights and case examples emphasize safety, trust, and skillful adaptation to the individual, making it easy to apply the wisdom of yoga effectively in the therapeutic context.” — Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author, Yoga for Pain Relief, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Yoga Therapy
“My patients can now have the same effects as many medications without having to actually take medication!” — Deborah Lubetkin, PSY.D, LFYP, West Caldwell, NJ
“I have found the pranayama (breathing practices) especially easy to introduce in a clinical setting. Some people have benefited quickly in unexpected and transformative ways.” — Liz Brenner, LICSW, LFYP, Watertown, MA
“This program changed my life in a significant way. It helped me connect with the spirit which is something you can’t get from psychotherapy and medication.” – G. W., artist, Pittsburgh, PA
“I came hoping to learn to move past some of the obstacles blocking my creativity. Over the course of this weekend, I feel I’ve gained a certain measure of faith in myself and in my ability to change. I also had some realizations that I believe will be very helpful to me. I feel encouraged. Both the content and presentation of this program were so well-thought out that I can’t think of any way to improve it.” — Andrea Gollin, writer & editor, Miami, FL
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