Issue 31

RESEARCH: FIBROMYALGIA AND YOGA

Researchers at OregonHealth & Science University in Portland found that Yoga that includes gentle stretches and meditation may help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Twenty-five women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome, were enrolled in a two-hour yoga class that met once a week for eight weeks. The Yoga class included meditation and pranayama breathing techniques. The Yoga group was encouraged to practice st home with a DVD. Another group of 28 women diagnosed with the condition were put on a waiting list and told to continue their normal routine for dealing with fibromyalgia. After eight weeks, the yoga group reported improvements in both physical and psychological aspects of fibromyalgia, including decreased pain, fatigue, tenderness, anxiety and better sleep and mood.

Lead study author James Carson, a clinical psychologist and pain specialist said, “They came back after the first week reporting less pain, better sleep and feeling encouraged for the first time in years. That type of change continued to build over the course of the program.

The study is in the November print issue of the journal Pain.

RESEARCH: PRENATAL YOGA FOR DEPRESSION

Brown University and Butler Hospital researchers in Providence, Rhode Island found that there is a high level of interest in taking prenatal yoga classes amongst a widely diverse cross-section (racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic) of pregnant women suffering from depression, as a way of managing their symptoms. Even among those who had never experienced a yoga class, 88% said they would like to try it. According to the authors survey of research, complementary therapies such as yoga are appealing because “they are often perceived as being more natural, less stigmatizing, and less likely to have unfavorable side effects.” Even if encouraged by their doctors, most pregnant women, according to a recent study quoted by the authors, “reported they would not take antidepressants.”

The authors intend to develop yoga-based interventions for child-bearing women with psychiatric disorders, so they first wanted to determine the level of acceptance to yoga-based treatment. Of the 250 pregnant and postpartum women who completed the survey, a relatively large proportion, 83 percent (n = 207), reported interest in trying prenatal yoga. Among the 65 women seeking care specifically for antenatal depression (postpartum), 57 (88%) expressed interest.

The findings were reported in the December, 2010 issue of Birth: Issues in Perinatal Care

The authors have two other yoga research papers published this year. We reported on this one last month: “Open Trial of Vinyasa Yoga for Persistently Depressed Individuals: Evidence of Feasibility and Acceptability” in the journal Behavior Modification. The online version of this article can be found at: http://bmo.sagepub.com/content/34/3/247

Earlier in the year, the authors, led by Lisa Uebelacker, PhD. published an excellent review of the literature on yoga as a treatment for depression: “Hatha Yoga for Depression: Critical Review of the Evidence for Efficacy, Plausible Mechanisms of Action, and Directions for Future Research.” The article appeared in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice Vol. 16, No. 1

REVIEW: Bring on the Joy by Jen Yost

Bring on the JoyJen Yost writes in the voice of your favorite yoga teacher or the best friend you wish you’d always had. Her narrative is compassionate, lively, humorous, and oh so understanding of whatever blocks your joy.

The interactive and inspiring exercises in Bring on the Joy! will do just that. In under 100 pages, Jen provides movment, meditaton, breathing, and self-care excercises that nourish the best in yourself and in your life. If you’re a teacher or presenter, there are ideas here that will integrate well into stress management, yoga and other holistic workshops. Not only is Jen’s voice clear, but she includes the voices of her favorite writers. There are inspiring poems and aphorisms from Meister Eckhart, Mother Theresa, Rumi, Cheri Huber, Goethe, Hafiz, Einstein, and many other writers.

REVIEW: Already Home: Stories of a Seeker by Aruni Nan Futuronsky

Is recovery from a challenging childhood, a sense of self-loathing and self-medication with drugs and alcohol possible? Futuronsky provides not only the answer–a resounding YES– but also a map to take us there. Through her own deeply personal journey, we learn that coming home to a sense of wholeness, without drugs or bitterness, is indeed possible for us all.

On the way to self-awareness, Futuronsky takes the reader through some painful and humiliating events. As she struggles to see through the fog of uncertainty about her place in the world, and her identity and sexual orientation within it, the scenes are intimate and revealing. Her coming out as a lesbian does not protect her from the difficult relationships that are fueled by addiction. There are lessons for all of us as we follow her through recovery, her move to Kripalu, her settling into a lasting and loving relationship and her emergence as a teacher and healer.

MEDIA MENTION: Stories from the Yogic Heart, edited by Lisa Cherry

Sangha (community) is at the heart of of Yoga. The people with whom we connect keep us moving forward on the path. If the connection is deep and strong with another, our relationship to Self is also deepened. This book is a collection of stories from a global sangha of individuals about Yoga’s touch and the resulting transformation in their lives. Within these pages, you will find stories that speak to you about your own life and support you on your journey.

This compilation features personal stories by Mariel Hemingway, Russell Simmons, Sting, Sonny Rollins, Amy Weintraub, Sharon Gannon, Danny Paradise, and many more.

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

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