When Yoga International asked me to write about “Breath of Joy” for the upcoming winter issue, it brought back memories of a wonderful Kripalu Yogini named Lila Ostermann who died this year at ninety-two. She introduced this breath in the the early 70’s, and it remains a staple, mood-elevating Kripalu Yoga warm-up today, as well as one of the many mood-boosters in the LifeForce Yoga repetoire of practices. Brahmanand Don Stapleton, a senior Kripalu teacher trainer and founder of Nosara Yoga, says he still includes it in every training because “it produces both a euphoric release of pent up nervous tension and a calm clarity for focus and rejuvenation.” I loved seeing the softened faces and bright eyes of the 50+ mental health professionals after they practiced Breath of Joy outside, during the LifeForce Yoga workshop at the Cape Cod Institute in August.
Amy Leading Tree Pose at the Cape Cod Institute
As the weather begins to change and sunlight is waning, you might ask yourself how you can infuse joy into your day. Let breathing practices like “Breath of Joy” unclutter the space within, leaving more room to breathe in whatever you wish to enhance in your life. Early-bird prices are about to expire for retreats in Tucson, at Yogaville in Virginia, and at Generations Yoga in the Chicago area, so It’s not too soon to offer yourself a weekend of heart-opening, space-clearing practices, inviting more joy and clarity into your life. Please read on for research, reviews and the fall schedule.
A warm namaste, Amy
Research: Two Yoga Studies with Mood Implications
Yogini Marcia Miller, owner of Yoga on High in Columbus, Ohio, reports that a current study at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research in the Ohio State College of Medicine is examining the effects of yoga in breast cancer survivors. This is a study about how yoga affects fatigue, immune function, and mood in women who have recently been treated for breast cancer.
Stress researchers Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser of Ohio State University are the lead investigators for this study, their second on the benefits of yoga. The first one was published in January in The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine and was presented this month to the American Psychological Association. The study demonstrates that regular yoga practice reduces levels of circulating inflammatory markers, a known risk factor in cardio-vascular disease, asthhma, and depression. The fifty participanpants in the study were divided in to two groups–one of yoga novices who had practiced not more than six to twelve times (so that they would not experience the stress of learning new poses) and a group of yoga “experts,” who had been practicing for a minimum of 2 years. Both groups, as well as two control groups (one on a treadmill and the other who watched a video), were subjected to the same three stressful events prior to their designated activity. The researchers examined the blood samples for key markers of inflammation, one of which is a protein called IL-6. Across all the tasks and other experimental scenarios, the “novices” IL-6 levels were 41 percent higher than the “experts.”
The lead investigators for the inflammation study are now turning their attention to the effects of yoga on women following cancer treatment in one of the largest yoga and cancer studies to date.
According to Marcia Miller, who designed the yoga protocol, the women are given 12 weeks of twice-weekly classes with sequences designed to maximize circulation to the upper chest and armpit area, and to improve overall immunity with simple inversions and relaxing restorative poses. “I have been so inspired to work with these women,” says Marcia. “In the three months we have had together they have a renewed confidence in their bodies and their abilities to make good choices for themselves based on their needs of the moment. They have hope for their futures as they stay focused in the now.”
For a detailed study description please visit the following website, www.stressandhealth.org.
Research: Yoga outshines Walking for Mood
Researchers at Boston University compared study participants who walked three times a week for exercise to a group assigned to three weekly Yoga classes over a period of twelve weeks. The results were reported to the American Psychological Association in August. Magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging of the brain measured GABA levels before and after to compare the two groups. GABA is a neurotransmitter associated with mood. Low levels can be an indicator of both depression and anxiety. When they work, antidepressants like the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can contribute to an increase in the GABA levels of the brain. As reported by Chris C. Streeter, lead researcher and associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, GABA levels were significantly elevated in the Yoga practitioners.
In addition to the biochemical marker, there were more mood improvements in the Yoga group on standard psycho-social measurements. The Yoga group reported feeling better.
Click here to read more.
Be the Welcoming!
Early-bird Deadline is Sept 15th
Be the Welcoming!
A LifeForce Yoga Thanksgiving Retreat
November 26th – 29th, 2010
How can we welcome and respond to all that life brings with a peaceful mind and a grateful heart? Our Yogic practices help us clear away the reactive patterns that constrict the body-mind and block the heart so that true thanksgiving can arise, no matter the circumstances. Become the agent of your own healing, as you learn to strip away the obstacles that keep you from knowing the joy that is your birthright through the mood managing techniques of LifeForce Yoga®. CEUs for Yoga Teachers.
Internal Family Systems Annual Conference
Chicago, IL (Oct 22 – 24, 2010)
Internal Family Systems Annual Conference
Amy will be leading morning Yoga sessions and afternoon meditation during the conference.
Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville
Buckingham, VA (Oct 29 – 31, 2010)
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
Join Amy for a weekend workshop where you will learn yogic techniques to manage your changing mood states.
Generations Yoga Center
Chicago, IL (Nov 5 – 9, 2010)
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
Let Amy lead you through a practice that interweaves the power of an ancient discipline with current scientific findings to help you release what’s no longer serving you – without a story attached!
Lenox, MA (Nov 12 – 14, 2010)
LifeForce Yoga to Manage to Manage Your Mood
You will learn an evidence-based practice that includes breathing exercises, easy postures, guided meditations, and other experiential yogic tools for managing your mood.
Redemptorist Renewal Center
Tucson, AZ (Nov 26 – 29, 2010)
Be the Welcoming! A LifeForce Yoga Thanksgiving Retreat
Our Yogic practices help us clear away the reactive patterns that constrict the body-mind and block the heart so that true thanksgiving can arise, no matter the circumstances.
for Amy’s complete calendar of events:
Let My Words Be Your Words: A New Meditation by Francoise Adan M.D.
Review By Rose Kress
This new CD by LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Francoise Adan M.D. is a good meditation tool for any level of practitioner, but is especially useful to beginners. The CD has seven tracks; each is a stand alone practice, ranging from four minutes to ten minutes, with unobtrusive music in the background. Dr. Adan gives simple, easy to understand directions. She gives the meditator permission to take the posture that is most comfortable, yet she encourages the exploration of meditation in different positions. Dr. Adan’s language speaks to the depth of her own practice of LifeForce Yoga as well as her study with Amy Weintraub.
The CD begins with a Calming Meditation. In this practice Dr. Adan guides the practitioner in a breath awareness, inviting the practitioner to “let the universe do CPR on you.” She assures the student that this practice can only be done right.
Track two is a Healing Meditation. In this practice, she invites the student to envision a healing light and to bring this light into the body. She begins with the head and works her way through, paying close attention to certain portions of the body and/or organs. At each point, she offers an empowering affirmation. For instance, Dr. Adan brings the attention to the base of the spine and says, “we bend and adapt to change; we stay the course and live with purpose.”
The next practice is a guided visualization in which students are invited to Meet Your Inner Wisdom. Dr. Adan guides meditators across a bridge to a sacred island – she gives gentle suggestions of possible imagery without intruding on personal experience. The purpose of this meditation is to connect with your inner wisdom and to learn the difference between your inner critic and your inner voice.
The next two tracks are a candle gazing meditation and a tense and release practice. The Flame Meditation, as she calls it, is short but skillfully led and perfect if you only have a few minutes. The Tension Release and Body Awareness is longer, but a very soothing practice that leaves one feeling relaxed and at ease. This can be an excellent track for relaxation at the end of your Yoga practice.
The practice that follows is a Compassion Meditation, that some might know as karuna or metta meditation. Dr. Adan prefaces the practice with the invitation to “be the change we want to see in the world.” Students are directed to send compassion to themselves first and then extend that compassion to an ever growing circle of individuals.
The CD concludes with the track Pebbles. This is another guided visualization. Again Dr. Adan leaves plenty of space for practitioners to find their own images, but gives enough direction to create a sense of continuity. In this practice, the meditator is guided to the edge of a lake and is directed to toss a pebble into the center. The pebbles are given names like, Peace, Gratitude, Love and Joy. After throwing the pebble, she invites the student to watch the ripples “traveling to you and through you,” with an invitation to notice where it is felt in the body.
Dr. Adan skillfully presents a menu of practices that is appropriate for any level of experiences. Each meditation will leave you feeling calm and relaxed. Although she does not say it, each practice is an excellent doorway into a deeper meditative experience.