Issue 40

Thank you for opening this e-newsletter. Even though you may have an interest in yoga and mental health, we are all bombarded by messages from too many sources, until even an e-mail from a friend can feel like a burden.

That’s why I’ve created this gift for you, simply because you are interested LifeForce Yoga and/or ways to sustain optimum mental health for you and those you serve. Many of you may already own LifeForce Yoga CDs or DVDs, so this LifeForce Yoga Nidra is a gift of thanks. May it support your ease and joy.

Please click here Special Gift (directions for listening and downloading are on the page).

Please read on for reviews of new CDs, books and DVDs I like and events that may make you or someone in your life a little happier this holiday season.

A warm namasté,


Amy Weintraub
LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute

In This Issue

  • Research: Mind-Body Programs for Trauma Survivors
  • River of Sound: Chants for Awakening & Balancing the Chakras
  • Yawning Yoga: A Goodnight Book for a Good Night’s Sleep
  • Trauma Sensitve Yoga DVD

RESEARCH: Mind-Body Programs for Trauma Survivors

There’s a wealth of material for anyone interested in the application of yoga and mind-body solutions for trauma treatment in the current issue of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Gathered in “Mass Disasters and Mind-Body Solutions: Evidence and Field Insights” by researchers and authors Patricia Gerbarg, MD, and Richard P. Brown, MD,(How to Use Herbs, Nutrients and Yoga for Mental Health Care) and teaching colleague Gretchen Wallace is a survey of programs currently in use in treating trauma-related conditions following mass disasters. This article not only reports the results of the mind-body therapies in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but also discusses the challenges, cultural and otherwise,in delivering the treatment in traumatized communities.

The authors discuss their own program, Breath Body Mind (BBM), and report on the results of its implementation with 2010 hurricane survivors in Haiti, and with torture survivors in Rwanda. Additionally, they conduct interviews with Dr. James Gordon, Director of the Center for Mind Body Medicine and author of the popular book on natural treatments for depression, Unstuck, whose trauma-treatment programis implemented in Kosovo, Gaza and Israel, with American veterans and other places where mass disasters have occurred.

For example, we learn of the decrease in PTSD symptoms in a controlled study with teenagers who participated in Dr. Gordon’s 12-weekprogram in Kosovo. Included in article this survey article is a report on the research on yoga-based trauma interventions conducted by Dr. Shirley Telles, director of research at Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar India, and the director of the Indian Council of Medical Research at the Center for Advanced Research in Yoga & Neurophysiology.

She and her colleagues studied the impact of a one-week yoga intervention developed by the Vivekanandra Kendra for survivors following the 2004 tsunami in the Adaman Islands and more recently, another one-week yoga training developed by Swami Ramdev for flood survivors in Bihar, India. Impressive outcome data from an earlier 2004study that utilized an 8-hour yoga-breath intervention for tsunami survivors is also included.

What links most of these studies is a focus on breathing practices as trauma treatment.Similar practices (BBM) were taught to first responders and others affected by the September 11th attacks, and to patients in a Toronto clinic suffering from treatment-resistant anxiety. In all of these studies, the authors could conclude that the mind-body intervention significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD. The authors also include reports from this intervention and its application with traumatized populations in the Sudan, in Rwanda, and in Nicaragua.

The authors do not shy away from discussing the risks in working in mass with trauma survivors, including such issues as cultural misunderstanding and the need for cultural and trauma sensitivity, minimizing the risk of adverse reactions and dealing with caregiver stress.

Much of this material is inspiring. The researchers and teachers go to places where emotionally-devastated communities face severe shortages of basic needs like food and shelter and sometimes even potable water. The providers are often exposed to extreme suffering. The article suggests ways of coping and treating the care-givers themselves. What I find most inspiring is that in order to continue to serve the affected communities when the treatment providers and researchers have gone home,in most of these interventions, community leaders are taught the strategies so that they can deliver them to those they serve.

In places where whole communities have been traumatized, providing members of those communities with the tools to teach yoga and breathing practices and meditation and other healing modalities, without concern for a 500 hour teaching certificate or a PhD in psychology is essential.These dedicated researchers stay linked to the communities where they have overseen the intervention. There is follow up, so that the providers know that not only did the traumatized survivors show improvement after the intervention, they can see that in teaching the community leaders these self-care practices, the improvement continues.

Most exciting for readers is that with this issue The International Journal of Yoga Therapy, articles are soon to be indexed on PubMed. In the meantime, if you would like to read this article, please visit to contact the author, Dr. Gerbarg.

River of Sound: Chants for Awakening & Balancing the Chakras

by Rama Jyoti Vernon
Reviewed by Amy Weintraub

If you can’t get to a workshop with master yogini and international yoga teacher Rama Jyoti Vernon, this CD may be the next best thing. River of Sound is not background music. In fact, it’s not even music as those of us who chant Kirtan know it. If however you want a glimpse into the depths of what the Sanskrit language offers in terms of psycho-emotional and physiological realignment, this CD is an invaluable resource. In it, we learn and practice Sanskrit vowels and diphthongs (the vibratory combination of vowels), and bija mantras. As Rama guides us from the poetic wisdom of her heart and soul, she shares teachings of universal truth.

“Sanskrit is like a great river,” she says in the introduction, “It just keeps flowing. All we do with the sound is we change the banks of the river with our teeth, our tongue and our lips.”

From her decades of practice and study with the great Indian yoga masters of the20th century, she has a wealth of knowledge that has been tested in the laboratory of her own body-mind and with the thousands of students whom she has instructed.While most of her formulations are aligned with the primary teachings of Nada Yoga (study of sound), some are different. She instills confidence in the listener so that we trust her system and willingly practice along with her a sound for swatistana chakra at the pelvic region, for example, that may be different than what we have learned.

In the introduction to the bija mantras, Rama explains that the sounds have no meaning but that they are potent and powerful vibrations “that realign our sensory organs” and bring us into “greater attunement within ourselves” that opens us to an “expanded attunement with the universe.” Woven throughout her extemporaneous teachings about the chakras are references to Patanjali’s Sutras and wisdom from her own inspiring sutras, full of passion and poetry. The listener hears that poetic passion in descriptions of, for instance this one about anahata the heart chakra: “As light dawns within our being, we are not creating anything but rather releasing the impediments ofthe past that have hardened areas that have blocked the light that is always there.”As she describes the releasing effect of the bija mantra on vissudha, the chakra at the throat, she says that Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom, poetry and music,”will dance upon the tongue as the throat opens.”You might, as I did, weave this CD workshop with Rama into your morning practice. Let it be your meditation and, as Rama says, “awaken to who and what we are.”

Order CD here:

If you’re a yoga teacher or serious student, you might be inspired to join Rama for her Tucson retreat in March. February 2 – 7, 2012, Tucson, AZ,

Yawning Yoga: A Goodnight Book for a Good Night’s Sleep

By Laurie Jordan; illustrations by Aaron Randy
Reviewed by Amy Weintraub

This wonderful bedtime book is written for both parents and children with the intention of a calm and easy bedtime and a good night’s sleep. Jordan provides wise advice for parents at the beginning of the book, suggesting that they not force their child’s participation. “The parent’s role,” she says, “is to make sure the child is both physically and emotionally safe.” She follows this with 4 tips for a better bedtime that are good suggestions, whether you read the book to the child and practice the poses or not.

What follows is joyful and practical. Through poetry and beautifully funny, colorful and uplifting illustrations, Jordan takes children and their parents through poses that meet and acknowledge the active body mind, “The day is done and it’s time for bed, but your body’s still moving/and there are thoughts in your head.

Traditional poses are renamed for kid-appeal. Mountain pose becomes “Greet the Moon,” and modified shoulder stand becomes “Candlestick.” Jordan instructs the child to “Kiss your hands and your fingers for all they have done,” and follows that with a wonderful body scan called “Good Night Little Body,” that begins with a tension and release exercise called “Hugs.” In the end, the parent engages with the child in the practice by giving the child the “spaghetti test,” holding and wiggling the child’s feet and hands to make sure “arms and legs are nice and floppy and relaxed.”

The book leaves plenty of room for engaging a child’s imagination and creativity,suggesting, “Use your mind’s eye and travel afar,” as a way to create a safe and secure place before falling asleep. “What can you see, hear, and feel? Picturing that makes it seem so real.”

Where the illustrations are playful and fun, the index at the back includes pictures of real children practicing the poses in their pajamas, often in bed, with precise instructions for each exercise.

Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and neighbors-if there is a young child or two in your life, you can bet she and he will love this book, and the parents will thank you and author Laurie Jordan for an easy bedtime!

Trauma Sensitive Yoga DVD

by Beth Jones
Reviewed by Rose Kress

For trauma survivors, to say that the body can be an uncomfortable place to live is an understatement. One definition of trauma is the “inability to be present.” Yoga is a tool, that when utilized, can bring anyone to the present moment.Beth Jones states that this Trauma Sensitive Yoga DVD is “specifically designed to address the needs of survivors who are actively working with a therapist or who have healed through traditional talk therapy and wish to now address the body.” This DVD is meant to provide a gentle entryway into the body.There are three tracks on this DVD; a three-minute introduction and two 30 minute yoga practices.

The first track is an introduction to Beth and Trauma Sensitive Yoga. As she speaks about the practice, demonstrations of both practices play on the screen. Beth gives permission to do as much as you would like, but also gives a reminder that “when and if healing occurs, depends on the individual.” This practice is designed in such a way that the participant can go at their own pace, exploring what arises.

The second track is the Chair Yoga practice. Beth guides breathing and centering and short meditation for noticing the body before moving on to gentle warm-ups,like neck stretches and should rolls. Gradually she leads explorations of deeper stretches as well as positions that awaken strength in the body, such as seated leg extensions and runner’s lunge supported by the chair. The positions are simple and easy movements appropriate for any body and any level of yoga experience.

Beth gives clear directions with plenty of permission to move at your own pace, to door not do, or back off as needed. She leads the practice in such a way that every direction seems like an invitation to explore movement and breath. During and in between the postures simple body sensing occurs — often Beth is inviting you to feel the connection of the feet to the floor. The posture practice ends with legs up the wall, a great inversion for the lymphatic system, as well as the nervous system. Finally, the whole practice ends with relaxation pose.

The third track is the Floor Routine. The practice includes the same movements except they are done on the floor. Inserts of the chair practice occur at times when modifications may be needed.Beth sets out to provide a safe and easy practice for trauma survivors and she does that effortlessly.


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

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“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
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“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 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
“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
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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
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