I can’t imagine my life without a daily practice to clear away the debris of life’s stressors, and this month there have been many. When I practice, I know who I am beneath mood and the mysteries of being an “I” in a challenging and glorious world. As fall brings change, it’s time to recommit to what is changeless and eternal. We do this day after day on our yoga mats or in nature or in places of great beauty. As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, I wish you daily access to your wholeness through the evidence-based practices of Yoga. I hope to see you on the path at one of the beautiful places where I will be teaching this fall!
Read on for reviews of new yoga and mental health books by LifeForce Yoga Practitioners Dr. Susan Tebb and Dawn Hamilton.
A Warm Namasté,
The International Association of Yoga Therapists sponsored two conferences in September. I was honored to present with LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner and professor of social work Dr. Susan Tebb on the integration of yoga in mental health treatment, including trauma at the Symposium for Yoga Therapy and Research (SYTAR) in Monterey, California, earlier in the month. Although I was unable to attend the second conference, IAYT’s Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) at Kripalu, friends and colleagues have spoken of the inspiring presentations from senior researchers and many new enthusiastic scientists from round the world. Numerous studies which used yoga interventions for a variety of conditions, also demonstrated significant mood improvement. To stay current on poster presentations and other new research, visit www.iayt.org
Research: Yoga & Fibromyalgia
In the first published study to look at yoga as a treatment for fibromyalgia, two weekly classes of yoga over an eight week period were shown to improve psychological functioning as well as to reduce levels of pain. The 22 women who participated also showed beneficial changes in cortisol levels after the yoga intervention. To read more, visit www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3160832/?tool=pubmed
for Amy’s complete calendar of events:
Overcoming Trauma through Yoga: Reclaiming Your Body by David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper, PhD
Reviewed by Dawn Hamilton, LFYP – 2
Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga
This concise book is a helpful and uplifting reference work for clinicians, yoga teachers as well as survivors of trauma. As a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner, I can say that the book is completely aligned with the compassionate guidance I received at LFYP training. Using recent discoveries in neuroscience as well as their own clinical experience at The Trauma Center, the authors clearly demonstrate that yoga, when adapted to the unique sensitivities of trauma survivors, can help them manage the debilitating onset of triggers in their daily lives, assisting them forward on their healing journey.
Emerson and Hopper provide a good framework for understanding the deep impact of trauma on the entire human being, with profound and compassionate descriptions of PTSD and trauma. The book includes an informative history of the treatment of people affected by various forms of trauma, whether it be war, abuse, violence or accident, and the evolution of that treatment. They reveal new scientific research which shows our sense of selves is deeply anchored in a vital connection with our bodies. This tells us the wounds of trauma are held deep within the human body, and therefore to fully heal, treatment must include somatic elements. The intrinsic mind/body connection of yoga provides the practitioner with the vital link between wounds stuck inside the body and the deep healing needed.
The authors do an excellent job distinguishing specific needs of trauma-sensitive yoga practitioners from other yogis by sharing case studies of trauma survivors bravely attending classes. They discuss the need to pace a trauma-sensitive yoga class slowly, the importance of creating a safe space to practice, careful attention to the words uttered by the yoga teacher, and whether or not to offer physical assists. They offer practical yoga exercises adapted to trauma survivors, including language for instructors emphasizing choice and empowering their students as collaborators.
Overall, the book is a powerful addition to existing research which is now starting to concur that yoga can truly heal. For yoga teachers, it is invaluable for showing that all students are not the same, and that adapting your class just takes compassion, special care and knowledge, which this book provides. Clinicians will benefit by learning that yoga unlocks traumatized bodies, and because the practices are simple – and can easily be done in an office setting. . Although trauma survivors may have moments of discomfort and from time to time, strong emotions may surface as they read, Overcoming Trauma through Yoga offers something critical to their healing: hope.
Dawn (Devi) is a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner – Level 2, a 200 hour Sivananda certified teacher, a 200 hour Wisdom Flow vinyasa graduate, and an ever grateful student. She is currently studying for her 500 hour certification with the Inner Peace School of Yoga Therapy.
Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practices to Help Relieve Anxiety and Depression by Bo Forbes, Psy.D
Reviewed by Sue Tebb, PhD, LFYP-2 Yoga for Emotional Balance
Bo Forbes, psychologist, yoga therapist and author of Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practices to Help relieve Anxiety and Depression trained, as I did, to work only with the mind through “talk” therapy. In her book, she offers Yoga as a portal through which the mind and body work together on the emotions of stress. Often, as is the case with Forbes, when we experience first-hand how emotions play out both in the mind and body, we look beyond our professional training for ways to address stress. Yoga is the path that Bo skillfully uses to help people experience that “the body holds an essential key to healing anxiety and depression.” She guides readers in developing a personal practice that uses mostly restoratives postures, pranayama, bandha work and mantras. The book offers picture demonstrations of the postures and the props needed so that people can self guide their practice. Forbes encourages readers to set a baseline, checking in with how they feel in their mind and their body as they begin to practice; practicing mindfulness so that they remain aware of tension and/or relief; and then at the end of the practice in relaxation, again evaluating their current state of mind and body. The book is helpful to both the yoga therapist and yoga practitioner when “talk” is not enough.
Susan Steiger Tebb, Ph.D., L.S.W., RYT, Professor, School of Social Work, Saint Louis University, has centered her research around family caregiving. As a social worker for more than forty years, she has worked with diverse family configurations. She is a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Level Two and holds a Certificate of Completion in Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors from Duke Integrative Medicine.