Issue 10

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.


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

Almost Ready!

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 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.

RESEARCH: Pranayama

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.

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.

RESEARCH: Meditation

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,


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:, 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 ( 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.

Kripalu Center

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: //

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.

Joyful Yoga

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

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

The Crossings

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

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.


Spiral Flight

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



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.” usiccds.html


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 and put “Subscribe” in the heading and your email address in the body.

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.


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

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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What People Say

“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“I utilize the LFY techniques in both a class room setting and one-on-one environment. The skills have infused my teachings with compassion, mindfulness, and awareness.” — Kat Larsen, CYT, LFYP
“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
“I feel profoundly transformed, both physically and emotionally. The connection between mind, body and spirit was clearly evident to me, but revealed to me through this workshop as an integrally vital link to overall health.” — Nadine Richardson, program manager at rehab agency, Monroe, CT
“This workshop helped me rededicate my energies and begin to work through some of the blocks I’ve felt creatively.” — Steve Mark, college professor, New Haven, CT
“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“I gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
“I have been reminded that I am not on this path alone, that others are sharing the journey that sometimes seems so difficult. I have also been reminded of the importance of daily practice and I will do that. The whole program has been an incredible experience for me. Thank you!” — Lorraine Plauth, retired teacher, Voorheesville, NY
“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
“My personal practice will change, as well as my yoga classes. I have a better understanding of yoga!” — Andrea Gattuso, RYT, Yoga Teacher, Hackettstown, N.J.
“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
“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
“I have gained a softer heart, more receptive mind, and tools to enrich both personal and professional aspects of my life.” – Regina Trailweaver, LICSW, clinical social worker, Hancock, VT.
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
“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 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
“I learned lots of ways to reduce the anxiety and depression of my patients and myself.” – Aviva Sinvany-Nubel, PhD, APN, CNSC, RN, psychotherapist, Bridgewater, N.J.
“My life is already changed! I will use the tools I learned in my own practice and in my work. I feel safe and seen.” — Susan Andrea Weiner, MA, teacher/expressive arts facilitator, El Cerrito, CA.
“This workshop has changed so much — my self-image and my life. My own heart’s desire is 100% clear. I gained tools to help myself and others to live life fully.” — Marcia Siegel, Yoga teacher, therapist, Carlsbad, CA.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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