Issue: # 13 Summer/2007
In This Issue
NEWS – Expanded Tucson Retreat & Training
RESEARCH – GABA Levels Elevated
RESEARCH – Oxytocin Effective for Autism
Research – Yoga Decreases Depression in the Elderly
CALENDAR – Upcoming Hightlights
REVIEW – Listening from the Heart of Silence
REVIEW – The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
RESOURCE – LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues
If we’re running after a new experience, even a quiet mind or an open heart, we miss what is always here. ~
–Richard Miller, PhD, author of Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga.
President, Center of Timeless Being
“This, still this,” said nondual yoga and iRest Yoga Nidra teacher Joan Ruvinsky of Montreal, at Richard Miller’s annual ten-day retreat in San Rafael last month, and, since then, it’s been a touchstone for me–a doorway into presence, on and off my meditation cushion. Beneath the present mood, the roles we play, the masks we wear, is only this timeless, nameless source where we are not separate. This, where we are intimately and wholly connected. (See more about Joan below.)
Richard’s quote above reminds us that even our spiritual seeking can obscure this. If we are trying too hard to get somewhere, even our yoga practices can be a form of striving, and we miss what is already and always here. Our practices are meant to clear the space so that we awaken to who we really are. They are simply a means to this.
This issue of the newsletter features updates on some exciting research on yoga and mental health from around the globe, news, and reviews of two books that, I think are especially thought-provoking for practitioners. Those of you doing clinical work will be especially interested in Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom & Psychotherapy, Volume 2, edited by John J. Prendergast and G. Kenneth Bradford, Paragon House, 2007. This is a new collection of essays written by psychotherapists, and it expands and deepens the inquiry begun in Volume 1, The Sacred Mirror.
Yoga enthusiasts will find much inspiration, as I have, in The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart & Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Nischala Joy Devi. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007.
Both books are reviewed below.
NEWS – Tucson LifeForce Retreat & Practitioner Training Expanding
January 5 – 12, 2008
The Annual January Tucson Retreat & Training is expanding and deepening in many ways. First, to accommodate so many requests, we are lengthening our time together from five to seven days and nights. This will allow us to fully dive into the retreat experience, even as some of us prepare for certification as LifeForce Yoga® Practitioners. There will be led early morning yoga with our faculty, followed by pranayama, kriya, chanting and meditation with Amy. Our program sessions will include yogic strategies to maintain optimum mental health, emotional clearing, dyads, writing, small group work, and yoga asana, pranyama, kriya, mudra, mantra, bhavana, sankalpa, accessible to all level of practitioners. There will be practice sessions and self-mentoring for those enrolled in the training. You’ll have several hours off in the middle of the day to explore the Petra glyphs right on the property and the hiking trails that lead you from the retreat center through Saguaro National Park West. Evening programs will include workshops on Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and other topics relevant to yoga and mental health, as well as chanting and dance.
Our faculty and support staff has expanded as well. For the last three years, Structural Yoga Therapist Maria KaliMa, RN, MS, e-RYT 500, Yoga teacher Rose Kress, RYT and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist and trainer JJ Jesse Lee, MA have offered their warmth and expertise to the retreat/training experience. This year, I’ve invited Joan Ruvinsky, RYT500, director of la voie sans voie in Montreal, to join us. As mentioned above, I was deeply moved by Joan’s gifts as a teacher at Richard Miller’s annual May retreat in San Rafael. Joan will be leading us in several early morning practices, including pranayama, kriya, meditation, a body-sensing experience, Yoga Nidra and evening chanting sessions. She’ll also be available for individual sessions throughout the retreat. Maria will offer workshops on “Yoga Psychology for the Ayurvedic Doshas” and “Functional Yoga Therapy,” JJ Jesse Lee, M.Ed., will offer Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Sessions and a workshop on PRYT, and our dear Rose Kress, RYT, will offer us all support as well as early morning practice sessions. To learn more about the retreat, the faculty, the schedule, and certification for those of you wishing to take the training, please visit our Tucson retreat page on the site. www.yogafordepression.com/Tucson_healing_retreat.htm
RESEARCH: GABA Levels Elevated after Yoga – More Evidence for Yoga as Treatment
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found another way in which Yoga may help alleviate depression and anxiety disorders. A recent study published in the May issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Depression and anxiety disorders are often associated with low GABA levels.
Using a magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging technique developed by J. Eric Jensen, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate physicist at McLean Hospital, the researchers compared the GABA levels of eight subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga, with 11 subjects who did no yoga but instead read for one hour. The researchers found a twenty-seven percent increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after their session, but no change in the comparison subject group after their reading session.
“The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage,” said senior author Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.
For more information, please read a more complete summary of the article here:
RESEARCH: Oxytocin Shown Effective for Individuals with Autism
This evidence may support Yoga as an Adjunct Treatment for Autism
The peptide hormone oxytocin, when administered intravenously, showed promise for improved brain function and less repetitive behavior in a small pilot study of 15 adult patients with autism spectrum disorder. These results are consistent with animal studies and other very early studies in patients and suggest there might be a future role for oxytocin in the treatment of autism, say the researchers, led by Evdokia Anagnostou, MD, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Their findings were presented at the 6th International Meeting for Autism Research in Seattle, Washington.
Commentary: Previous studies have shown oxytocin levels were elevated after the practice of yoga. For this reason, it would be interesting to see a study that measured oxytocin levels in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, along with measurements of brain function and repetitive behavior, before and after a yoga session. Anecdotal evidence from yoga teachers working with autistic children has also suggested that repetitive behavior is decreased and general wellbeing was enhanced with therapeutic yoga.
RESEARCH: Depression Decreased in Elderly with Yoga
A study published in the February issue of Journal of Gerontological Nursing, (33) 3. 17-23, authored by Shirley Telles and M.N. Krishnamurthy of the Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation, compared a wait-listed group of older adults in a senior residence with an Ayurvedic intervention consisting of herbs taken daily for six months and a yoga protocol consisting of seven hours and thirty minutes a week of asansa, relaxation, pranayama, mantra and lectures. Subjects were measured for levels of depression before then at three-month and six-month follow-ups. Only those in the yoga program showed a significant decrease in depression.
According to Shirley Telles, the study’s senior author, “the seniors particularly enjoyed (and felt better with) the bhakti yoga sessions – singing devotional songs to no particular deity.” It evoked “a sense of faith in a Power greater than themselves.”
Lenox, MA (July 1 – 6)
LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training Level 1
Professional Training, certification for yoga teachers and mental health professionals.
Rheinbeck, NY (July 9 – 13)
LifeForce Yoga® to Live Your Bliss
a multi-level healing retreat. Suitable for all levels.
Princeton Center for Yoga and Health
Princeton, NJ (July 14)
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood
a day of learning to assess and meet your mood with LifeForce Yoga® strategies.
Jai Shanti Yoga
Atlanta, GA (September 21 – 23)
LifeFoce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
a weekend workshop where you will learn LifeForce Yoga® strategies for depression and anxiety.
University of Georgia
Athens, GA (September 26)
LifeForce Yoga® as an Adjunct Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
Amy will present LifeForce Yoga® strategies as an in-service training for medical and mental health professionals. For more information, please contact email@example.com
Expressions of Grace Yoga
Grand Rapids, MI (September 28 – 30)
LifeForce Yoga® Mood Management Weekend
learn ancient strategies to revitalize your practice and manage your mood.
May 4 – 6, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® for Anxiety & Depression, Arkansas Yoga Center, www.aryoga.com, (479) 521-YOGA (9642), 1949 Green Acres Road. Yoga Alliance CEU’s.
May 12, 2007
LifeForce Yoga®: Using the Breath to Manage Your Mood 1:00 – 5:00 pm Bikram Yoga Flagstaff, www.birkramyogaflagstaff.com 928-774-3637
San Rafael, CA
May 18 – 20, 2007
International Yoga Therapy Conference, Amy will present the Therapeutic aspects of LifeForce Yoga®. www.yogatherapyconference.com
Jun 4 – 8, 2007
LifeForce Healing Retreat & Practioner Training, The Crossings, 877 944-3003. CEU’s available
Jul 1 – 6, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training – Level 1 (for health professionals & yoga teachers) CEUs available, 800-741-7353www.kripalu.org/presenter/28/
Jul 9 – 13, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® to Live Your Bliss, Omega Institute, 800-944-1001
Jul 14, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood, Princeton Center for Yoga and Health, www.princetonyoga.com
Sep 21 – 23, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood, Jai Shanti Yoga, www.jaishantiyoga.com 404-370-0579
Sep 26, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® as an Adjunct Treatment for Depression and Anxiety, University Health Systems, University of Georgia. In-service training for medical and mental health professionals. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Grand Rapids, MI
Sep 28 – 30, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® for Mood Management Weekend, Expressions of Grace Yoga, 5161 Northland Dr. NE, 616-361-8589 www.expressionsofgraceyoga.com
Oct 20, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® to Live Your Bliss, Schoolhouse Yoga, www.schoolhouseyoga.com 412-401-444
Oct 21 – 26, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training – Level 2 (for health professionals and yoga teachers) CEUs available, 800-741-7353 www.kripalu.org
Oct 26 – 28, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, Kripalu Center 800-741-7353 www.kripalu.org
Venice Beach, CA
Nov 2 – 4, 2007
LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood, Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, www.exhalespa.com, 310 450 7676
REVIEW by Amy Weintraub
Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom & Psychotherapy, Volume 2, edited by John J. Prendergast and G. Kenneth Bradford, Paragon House, 2007.ListeningFromTheHeartofSilence
The therapeutic practices offered within the pages of Listening from the Heart of Silence, dissolve the mental constructs that separate therapist from client and, finally, reader from what is read. This is a book that “uses concepts to go beyond concepts,” providing a clear understanding of nondual wisdom in the practice of psychotherapy. Through case studies and practical practice suggestions, Listening from the Heart of Silence offers therapists, spiritual seekers, and clients a way to connect in and from the heart.
The introduction offers a simple explanation of nonduality as it is variously understood in the three major wisdom traditions in which it is most clearly expressed-Advaita Vedanta, Kashmiri Shaivism, and Dzogchen Zen. The essays themselves, written by psychotherapists and wisdom teachers, take inspiration from these traditions, as well as Jewish, Islamic, and Christian mysticism. Many of these writer/clinician/teachers compare Western psychological theory and concepts like Intersubjectivity, neutrality, and empathic attunement with nondual strategies and concepts like unconditional presence, nondual realization, and pure listening.
As co-editor Ken Bradford suggests in his essay, “From Neutrality to the Play of Unconditional Presence,” the “unconditional presence” of the therapist is both “open and intimate.” This is very different from the “neutral stance” of psychoanalysis. Whether the essayist calls it “pure listening,” “unconditional presence,” or “spacious intimacy,” as does John Prendergast, in his essay by that title, what these clinicians provide, as Judith Blackstone describes in her essay, is a spacious and intimate container in which freedom from out “rigid organizations of experience,” may be possible. When therapists practice “pure listening” as suggested by Peter Fenner in his essay, “Listening and Speaking from No-Mind,” and are “not so empathic or active in our listening that we actively encourage the speaker in continuing in her mental constructs,” they are offering that freedom.
Whether you are a psychotherapist, a spiritual teacher, a client, or a student, each of the essays in this wise and elegantly written book will inspire you not only to listen but to think and respond from the heart of silence. Read, learn from, and be challenged and inspired by this book.
REVIEW by Amy Weintraub
The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart & Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Nischala Joy Devi. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007.TheSecretPowerofYoga
“Embracing the spirit of the Sutras, rather than the literal meaning,” says Nischala Devi in the introduction, “allows me to integrate the sacred teachings at a much deeper level.” Devi’s perspective offers the reader a contemplative and heart-centered experience of the Sutras. Her approach is intuitive rather than scholarly, and it requires of the reader a willingness to break from traditional, linear reading in order to follow her as she weaves other sacred texts and even prayer into a consideration of the Sutras in Pada I & II. One of the most interesting of these unusual connections is linking the ancient Gayatri Mantra, which is the universal prayer to the divine feminine as light, to all the wisdom and practices of Kriya Yoga. “Repetition of the mantra,” says Devi, “channels its vibratory meaning directly to the heart.” Such repetition is recommended as a way of deeply understanding the first Sutra in Pada II-Tapas Swadhyaya Iswara Pranidhana Kriya Yoga.
This is a personal book in a number of ways. First, Devi includes anecdotes from her own life and the lives of her students to enliven her interpretation. We learn of her journey that began as a Hatha Yoga student at the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco to her pivotal meeting with her teacher, Swami Satchadananda, who awakened her heart. It’s also a personal book in that each sutra or cluster of sutras is followed, not only by a commentary, but also by a complementary spiritual practice. The suggested practices provide greater access to the given sutra’s present meaning for the reader.
Where previous interpretations have taken a Ten Commandment-like admonishing perspective in translating the Yamas as hindrances or restraints, Devi takes a more nondual perspective, cultivating the opposite of that which is warned against. So, for example, asteya, often translated as non-stealing, becomes “generosity and honesty.” Elsewhere vairagya, often translated as non-attachment, becomes “remembering the self.” Where other translations speak of controlling or stilling the fluctuations of the mind, as in the most common understanding of Yogah Chitta Vritti Nirodaha, Devi speaks of uniting. “Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.” Not a literal translation, but one that may speak to many of us as we seek to align our thinking with our feelings, and quiet both in the awakening of our hearts.
The Secret Power of Yoga integrates inspiration from the wisdom of the world’s spiritual traditions. Throughout, Devi quotes from Lord Buddha, Rumi, the Dalai Lama, Rabbi Hillel, and many other teachers. This is a book to be savored, not only as a guide to understanding the classic philosophical foundation of Yoga to be found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, but for the perspective and practices that awaken the heart.
“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.
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: http://www.yogafordepression .com
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
A warm Jai Bhagwan,
LifeForce Yoga® for Depression
“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