Issue 19

LifeForce Yoga® for Depression

News & Research

Issue #19 Fall/2008

Life brings us challenges: recently, one of our dear LifeForce Yoga® Practitioners lost her twenty-year-old daughter in a car accident in which drugs were involved. Grief is present, of course, along with feelings of remorse–what could I have done differently? But when she sits in practice, exploring the opposites of emotions, feelings of gratitude and joy arise, along with the sadness and guilt. She is able to find balance, even in her deep loss, as memories she has forgotten rise to the surface of her mind’s heart–of bathing her daughter when she was two, of watching her sing a solo in her high school’s choral production, and more recently, the hike they took together to through a vortex in Sedona. For this, she is grateful.

Those of us who have a regular practice, in which we clear our space of physical, emotional and mental constrictions every day, develop a strong container so that the winds of change or adversity or loss can blow through, along with the blessings. We remain standing in Mountain Pose or Tree Pose or Warrior, breathing our heartfelt intention (sankalpa) through the clear space within.

This summer, as I traveled from Tucson to Pittsburgh to Providence, with stops to teach at Omega, Kripalu, the Cape Cod Institute, and the Arlington Center, I found myself standing in Tree Pose, breathing my sankalpa through me every day. I asked for what I wanted to more fully manifest in my life to breathe through me as the sun rose on the small patio of my father’s independent living unit in Pittsburgh, or overlooking Lake Saranac at Tanglewood, across from Kripalu in the Berkshires, or in the program room at Omega in the Hudson Valley, or looking out towards the Little Compton light house from my rock at Sachuest Point, on Aquidneck Island, or from the Virginia state capital grounds in Richmond, or from a high dune at Le Count Hollow Beach on Cape Cod.

Yes, it was a glorious summer for which I am grateful, and as I stood in the pose every morning, no matter my geographic location, I was home. I knew exactly who I was–awareness itself, welcoming the flow of grief and joy, contentment and longing, loneliness and heartfelt connection.

May your practice remind you, every day, who you really are, beneath the current mood, the social mask, the costumes you wear and the roles you play.

Please visit me from your home on a Yoga Spirit Tele-class live call on October 6th, and at one of the many places I will be teaching in October and November.

A loving namasté,


In This Issue

RESEARCH: Meditation, Yoga May Reverse Stress-damaged Genes

LifeForce Yoga® Tucson Retreat & Training

NEWS: Veteran’s, Suicide and Yogic Strategies for PTSD

NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® in Rwanda


MEDIA REVIEW: Robin Carnes




RESEARCH: Meditation, Yoga May Reverse Stess-damaged Genes

In the 70’s, Dr. Herbert Benson made headlines when he reported on his research at Harvard, showing the benefits of Transcendental Meditation and what he called “The Relaxation Response” in ameliorating or reducing all kinds of stress-related symptoms, including high blood pressure, heart disease, different kinds of pain, infertility, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, and a range of psychological symptoms. The professor is still at it, reporting as senior co-author in the journal PLoS One a significant advance in the understanding of how relaxation techniques such as meditation, prayer and yoga improve health: by changing patterns of gene activity that affect how the body responds to stress.

In the first comprehensive look at how mind states can affect gene expression, Benson and his colleagues compared gene-expression patterns in 19 long-term practitioners, 19 healthy controls and 20 newcomers who underwent eight weeks of relaxation-response training. In both long- and short-term meditators, it appears that gene damage from stress may be reversed.

Further genetic analysis revealed changes in cellular metabolism, response to oxidative stress and other processes in both short- and long-term practitioners. All of these processes may contribute to cellular damage stemming from chronic stress.

“It’s not all in your head,” said Dr. Herbert Benson, president emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “What we have found is that when you evoke the relaxation response, the very genes that are turned on or off by stress are turned the other way. The mind can actively turn on and turn off genes. The mind is not separated from the body.”

NEWS: LifeForce Yoga Tucson Retreat & Training

Tucson LifeForce Yoga® Healing Retreat & Training,

January 17th – 23rd, 2009

Registration has begun, click here. Early Bird Rates and Discounts are available now.

Afi and Karen working on CamelThis program is open to all yoga practitioners, including beginners. Join Amy and master teachers from the US and Canada for a healing week of yoga and deep rest among the saguaros and the ancient petroglyphs, even as you learn yogic strategies to manage your mood and empower your students and clients to manage theirs.

If participating in the training, health professionals, psychotherapists, and yoga teachers will have extended hours and may receive certification. CEUs: Yoga Alliance, NASW-AZ.

While you may come if you are working with mood issues, the retreat is not appropriate for those in the acute phase of PTSD, major depression, Bipolar I, or any other psychiatric diagnosis. If you have any questions about this, please write us.

NEWS: Veteran’s, Suicide, and Yogic Strategies for PTSD

A suicide hot line launched a year ago has received calls from more than 22,000 veterans of the Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam wars, receives up to 250 calls a day, and has prevented 1,221 suicides, according to U.S. government figures released recently.

Many VA Hospitals are expanding to include Complementary and Alternative Medicine in their treatment plans for veterans. Robin Carnes, whose CD is reviewed below, offers IRest, a Yoga Nidra protocol designed by Richard Miller, at Walter Reed Army Hospital; LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner, Karen Soltes, LICSW, RYT-200,offers the protocol at the VA Medical Center in Washington, DC, and LifeForce Yoga® Practioner, Frances Stewart, MD, is integrating LifeForce Yoga® strategies in her psychiatric practice with service members and their families and is designing a wellness program for the US Navy Hospital. There are programs that include yoga, relaxation, guided imagery, and Yoga Nidra at VA Hospitals throughout the country.

According to a Rand survey, about one in five U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, which puts them at increased risk for suicide.–2008.html

NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® in Rwanda

Angela in RwandaLifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Angela Cerkevich, is the founder of the nonprofit, Anahata International whose mission is to bring yoga to post – conflict communities as a means to healing and social change has been utilizing Life Force Yoga® techniques in Rwanda. Anahata relies heavily on the support of private donors to affect real world change through yogic practices. If you would like to sign up for the mailing list or donate to the Rwanda project please visit:

Here is just one way she has been using LifeForce Yoga® in Rwanda.

Angela, certified as a LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner – 1 and who has also trained in iRest with Richard Miller, has been working with a group of 30 genocide survivors on and off over the past year. The group is comprised of youth in their early twenties. Most speak only Kinyarwanda (the local language) and many are genocide orphans. All come from below poverty level backgrounds and have a strong desire to assist in the rebuilding process of their country through healing on the individual level. She has been offering them a yoga teacher training, using many LifeForce Yoga® strategies as well as Yoga Nidra, so that they can help their traumatized community.


If you would like more information about a program, or to register, click on the Program Title


San Rafael, CA (Oct 3 – 5, 2008)

International Yoga Therapy Conference

Amy will be leading a LifeForce Yoga® class as well as a LifeForce Yoga® Awakening to Optimum Mental Health Workshop.


Your Home (October 6, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga® and Mental Health

Amy will discuss and lead Yogic strategies from mudras to mantras to mood-elevating meditations to meet and manage depression (tamasic mood) and anxiety (rajasic mood).


Columbus, OH (October 10 -12, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga® Beat the Blues

Join Amy for a three day workshop on how you can use LifeForce Yoga® techniques for depression.


Cleveland, OH (Oct 13, 2008)

Yoga Tools for Clinical Settings: Empower Your Clients to Manage their Moods

Amy leads a one day session for Mental Health Professionals. CEs available.


Pittsburgh, PA (Oct 15, 2008)

Yoga Tools for Clinical Settings: Empower Your Clients to Manage their Moods

Amy leads a one day session for Mental Health Professionals. CEs available.


Toronto, Ontario (October 18, 2008)

Mind Body Soul Experience

Amy is leading Yoga and speaking about Yoga and Depression at this event hosted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and the Art of Living Foundation at the Toronto Convention Center.


Lenox, MA (October 19 -24, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner Training Level 2

For those that have completed the Level 1 training, Amy will take you deeper into the LifeForce Yoga® techniques. You will also enjoy networking with other practitioners as you see what they are doing in their practice.


Lenox, MA (October 24 -26, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood

Amy leads a weekend workshop on how you can use Yoga to manage your mood.


Buckingham, VA (Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga® to Manage Your Mood

Spend a weekend with Amy at the Yogaville Ashram as you develop LifeForce Yoga® tools for your toolbox.


Tubac, AZ (November 8, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga®: from Blues to Bliss

Amy will guide you through ancient yogic techniques to transform your blues into bliss during this full day intensive. Email, to register.


Atlanta, GA (Nov 21 – 23, 2008)

LifeForce Yoga® from Blues to Bliss!

Amy returns to Atlanta to lead a weekend program on LifeForce Yoga® and the ways in which it can change our lives.


Paradise Island, Bahamas (Nov 24 – 30, 2008)

Thanksgiving Symposium: LifeForce Yoga® from Blues to Bliss

Amy leads class and workshop on LifeForce Yoga® and how we can harness the ancient power of yoga to change our lives.


Tucson, AZ (January 17 – 23, 2009)

LifeForce Yoga® Retreat & Practitioner Training Level 1

Retreat is open to all levels. You don’t have to be a yoga teacher or psychotherapist to attend. Professionals will receive training, CEUs, and certification.

For Amy’s full teaching schedule, please visit


Yoga Nidra II

Robin Carnes delivers an iRest Yoga Nidra protocol, developed by Richard Miller, Ph.D. to active duty soldiers diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, so I was eager to hear her new CD, Yoga Nidra II­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­. What Robin offers on the current CD is not the specific guidance at Walter Reed for PTSD, but many of the elements effective in balancing mood are here.

Yoga Nidra is a form of Yogic meditation, usually practiced in a supine position. It is different from a guided relaxation exercise in that there are several elements common to the Yoga Nidra experience, no matter whose voice leads. These common elements include an intention to remain alert and awake, a personal prayer or an intention, a body scan, breath awareness, sometimes an exploration of the opposites of sensation and emotions, and often a more global awareness of energy, beyond the limits of the body-mind. On this CD, Robin incorporates most of these elements in her own creative way.

Robin’s delivery on Yoga Nidra II is straightforward and clear, well-suited, I would imagine, to people accustomed to a military style of speech. In fact, her delivery is closer to an Indian-style of Yoga Nidra than it is to a softer new-age relaxation experience. I found her voice strong and comforting, without being cloyingly sweet, and have had many deep Yoga Nidra meditations using this CD.

There are two led Yoga Nidra experiences on the CD. One is about twenty minutes and is excellent for when you don’t have a lot of time. The other is about forty minutes. The shorter experience includes a body scan and breath awareness. The longer experience includes, along with other Yoga Nidra elements, a chanting of the bija mantras for the seven energy centers in the body. Robin’s pronunciation of the mantra sounds is different than the way I customarily practice the tones, so at first, I found the sounds disconcerting. However, repetition has made them familiar, and I can enjoy the Yoga Nidra, without resistance. I highly recommend Yoga Nidra II for an authentic Yoga meditation experience.

To purchase Robin’s CD, click on the picture above, or you can visit her web site:


2 Award-winning, LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues,

75-minute videos (DVD) practice,

led by Amy Weintraub

· Programmable Chapters

· Original music

· Includes a Study Guide booklet

· Shot on-location in Tucson, AZ by Emmy-award winning Director of Photography, Dan Duncan.

In both Level 1 & Level 2 DVDs, Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT 500, author of the book Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books), offers a comprehensive sequence of breathing techniques, toning, and postures to lift and balance the mood.

Level 1LEVEL 1 – In this gentle, beginning, yet invigorating video yoga practice, Amy invites practitioners into the loving embrace of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Quan 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.

***Winner of 4 Bronze Telly Awards***

Music by William Chapman, Krishna Das, & MJ Bindu Delekta

Level 2

LEVEL 2 – Amy offers modifications throughout this more challenging sequence of postures. Here, Amy invokes the energy of Shiva in his incarnation as the Fire Dancer Nataraja, guiding viewers to stay present to the sensations in their bodies, cultivating self-awareness as they burn away what is no longer serving them. The practice ends with an invitation to allow the awakened prana to guide the practitioner into her own flow of poses before transitioning into Yoga Nidra.

Music by Master Charles ~ Synchronicity & MJ Bindu Delekta

“A rare gem. This is a DVD that I will enjoy, and continue to learn from, for years to come.”-

Richard Miller, PhD – President, 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

“This is a wonderful testament to self-acceptance, the sentiment at the core of beating the blues.”-LA Yoga

For more information or to order, please visit:


Resources by leaders in the field of yoga and mental health that Amy recommends (books, CD’s & DVD’s) are available at Carol Hendershot’s online store Expressions Yoga. Many of the resources Amy uses during her workshops can be found here, including the music.



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.

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

Dr. 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.

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 perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
“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 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
“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 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 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
“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
“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
“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
“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.
“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
“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“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.
“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.
“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
“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 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.
“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 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
“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 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
“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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