This issue features reviews of Drs.Patricia Gerbarg and Richard Brown’s excellent new book and CD, The Healing Power of the Breath, as well as new research on yoga and optimum mental health in pregnancy and a look at Dr. Shirley Telles’s new study on breathing practices and the brain.
As slowly as I can, I am reading clinical social worker and yogi Stephen Cope’s new book, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. I am savoring each section, letting Arjuna’s foundational struggle with his dharma in the Bhagavad Gita and the extraordinary and ordinary lives Cope explores inhabit my thoughts. I am discussing the book with friends and reading parts of it out loud, because it has initiated a journey of self-inquiry. Isn’t it wonderful when the comfortable facade of you life sustains a crack (like my own 5th metatarsal breaking at Kripalu last month and simultaneously reading Cope’s book), and you are given another opportunity to reconsider your life? I’ll write a full review in September, when the book is released. Meanwhile, you can preorder here.
Not only am I reading slowly, but I’m also walking slowly or as little as possible, as I recover from this broken foot. But no one said anything about not riding a bike!
In this issue:
Research: Yoga and Pregnancy – Benefits to Mom and Baby
Research: Uninostril Breathing Does Effect Hemispheric Balance
Research: Does Yoga Benefit Women More Than Men?
News: Two New Resource Pages on Yogafordepression.com
News: The Divine Feminine Yoga Telesummit: Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World
News: The Montreal International Symposium on Therapeutic Yoga – MISTY 2012
News: LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training for Depression & Anxiety – Level 1
Review: The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotions by Richard Brown, MD and Patricia Gerbarg, MD, (Shambhala, 2012) – Reviewed by Amy Weintraub
Several recent studies and two surveys of the research literature on the benefits of yoga during pregnancy all point to the same conclusion—that moms-to-be fare better, as do their newborns, when they practice yoga, especially if they are battling depression.
Because of the potential side effects on their babies of antidepressant pharmaceuticals during pregnancy, women are more likely to agree to nontraditional, non-drug methods to treat their depression. A recent study, conducted at the University of Michigan, found that mindfulness yoga reduced depression symptoms in pregnant women. By mindfulness, the authors mean yoga practice where body awareness and breath are emphasized over a more athletic style of hatha yoga.
In the study, women who had displayed signs of depression between 12 and 26 weeks pregnant participated in a 90-minute mindfulness yoga session for a total of 10 weeks. Women who participated in the program reported a significant decrease in their depressive symptoms. They also reported a stronger attachment to the babies they were carrying.
A study done in Korea with 46 pregnant women who had in vitro fertilization reported similar results.
Another recent article reviews several studies of yoga during pregnancy and found that, although strict randomized controls (RCTs) were missing in a number of the studies, the nonrandomized trials indicated a significant reduction in rates of preterm labor, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight, pregnancy discomforts, and perceived sleep disturbances in those who practiced yoga during pregnancy. Results of the three randomized control trials the researchers looked at indicated that practicing yoga during pregnancy can significantly lower pain and discomfort and perceived stress, as well as improving quality of life.
Another study looked at the research done on prenatal exercise in general and found that yoga in particular, as compared to walking, lowered heart rate and blood pressure more than walking. The researchers also report that complications like pregnancy-induced hypertension with associated intrauterine growth retardation and prematurity are less frequent following yoga.
Now that so many small pilot studies have indicated yoga’s benefits for pregnant women, larger, better funded randomized controlled trials are under way, including one on-going at Butler Hospital and Brown University, under the direction of Lisa Uebelacker, PhD. She and her colleagues are in the second year of a four-year NIH funded RCT study, for which I am a consultant. This study is looking at yoga and its effect on non-pregnant people suffering from depression. According to Uebelacker, the results won’t be analyzed until the completion of the study, but retention rates in the yoga group are quite high, which is a good sign!
Babbar S, Parks-Savage AC, Chauhan SP. Yoga during pregnancy: a review, Am J Perinatol. 2012 Jun;29(6):459-64. Epub 2012 Mar 7.
Mindfulness yoga during pregnancy for psychiatrically at-risk women: Preliminary results from a pilot feasibility study, Muzik. M, and colleagues, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Epub 2012, July 14
J Korean Acad Nurs. 2012 Jun;42(3):369-76. doi: 10.4040/jkan.2012.42.3.369. Effects of a Yoga-focused Prenatal Program on Stress, Anxiety, Self Confidence and Labor Pain in Pregnant Women with In Vitro Fertilization Treatment.
J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012 Apr;16(2):204-9. Epub 2011 Sep 23.Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity.
Infant Behav Dev. 2012 Jun;35(3):397-407. Epub 2012 Jun 19. Prenatal exercise research. Field T., and colleagues.
Uebelacker, Lisa. Personal communication, 8/8/2012
Senior Yoga Researcher Shirley Telles, PhD, and her colleagues have corroborated previous research to show that not only does breathing through one nostril effect the autonomic nervous system as established in previous studies–i.e., left nostril breathing stimulates parasympathetic activity for a calming effect while right nostril breathing stimulates sympathetic activity for a stimulating effect, but it also effects hemispheric dominance. In a study involving 29 male subjects that compared 45 minutes of left nostril, right nostril, alternate nostril, breath awareness and no special breathing on five consecutive days, the results suggest that right nostril yoga breathing facilitates the activity of the contralateral (left) hemisphere. After breathing through the right nostril, the subjects had more focused attention and could more easily discriminate between stimuli.
I asked Dr. Telles about this, because there is some controversy about whether the changes we have observed in other studies as a result of uninostril breathing are the result of autonomic shifts only or hemispheric dominance. Here is what she says:
“Our findings on uninostril breathing can be summarized like this: when we looked at midlatency auditory EPs which examine the neural centers from the ear till the first relay in the cortex we find IPSILATERAL changes. The first relay in the cortex just says whether a SOUND has OCCURRED or NOT.”
As I understand it, what this means is that the first response of the brain to noticing a stimuli like a sound occurs on the same side of the brain in which the breathing has been practiced.
However, Dr. Telles continues, “When the stimuli are cognitively processed this occurs in SECONDARY areas (which are needed to understand details about the stimuli such as WHAT is the STIMULUS? from WHERE is it coming?) Secondary processing occurs CONTRALATERALLY.”
What this means is that in the second phase of the brain’s response, i.e.when we become aware that the stimuli has occurred (details about the sound, for example whether the sound is a telephone ringing or a doorbell) requires cognitive processes which occur on the opposite side of the brain in which the breathing has been practiced.
So it seems to be correct to say that both sides of the brain are stimulated by uninostril and alternate nostrll breathing practices. However, cognition, which comes second, registers in the brain on the opposite side of the nostril breathing practice or “contralaterally.”
Telles S, Joshi M, Somvanshi P., Int J Yoga. 2012 Jul;5(2):102-7. Yoga breathing through a particular nostril is associated with contralateral event-related potential changes.
In a small study involving 53 participants, women veterans with low back pain benefited more than did men veterans. Women participants had significantly larger decreases in depression and pain “on average,” and larger increases in energy and SF-12 Mental Health than men who participated. It’s hard to know what this means without more information about the style of yoga offered and without further research. Fortunately, the authors state that a more rigorous study is being designed to address these research questions.
Groessl EJ, Weingart KR, Johnson N, Baxi S., J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jul 19. [Epub ahead of print], The Benefits of Yoga for Women Veterans with Chronic Low Back Pain.
LifeForce Yoga for Anxiety
Anxiety is nothing new. What’s new is that we are more alone with it. Gone is the village square where are grandparent’s gathered. Yoga helps us reconnect at the deepest levels. Read and experience the connection to your natural state of ease. A free practice for anxiety is included on this page.
LifeForce Yoga and Trauma For those of us with a history of trauma, it may not feel safe to live in the body, and we develop protective ways of living, often from the neck up. Yoga can be a gentle way to reclaim our bodies for ourselves. Learn how LifeForce Yoga can soothe the effects of trauma. This page includes a free meditation practice.
My friend Laura Cornell is bringing together 13 of the world’s leading experts in Yoga for women. These are leaders who are passionate, like I am, about helping women heal body and soul, so we can contribute to healing the world. These women can show you how to live your life from a place of balance and flow, in connection with your authentic self!
I’m delighted to be sharing “LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood” during this series too!
Attending is FREE! You can register now: Click here.
News: Yoga Therapy Symposium in Montreal
Montreal International Symposium on Therapeutic Yoga: Oct 20th – 21st 2012, Le Westin Montréal hotel
Amy will be teaching a 4-hour session called “Yoga for Mood Management” and a 2-hour session on healing from trauma.
25 educators from all over North America will address 35 specific topics, such as:
- Treating Psychosomatic Disorders with Dr Madan Bali
- The Deep Core Support with Leslie Kaminoff
- Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy with Kate Potter
- Explore the Floor of the Core & more! with Bill Gallagher & Richard Sabel
- Shoulder Shape Up: A Downward Dog Makeover with Jill Miller
- Yoga for Joint Health: Arthritis with Cathy Lilly
- Trauma Recovery from a Yoga Perspective with Amy Weintraub
- And much more!!!
All faculty and courses meet the Yoga Alliance criteria for CEUs.
For full Course Description & Bios at homyogaevents.com
Tucson, AZ, January 12-19, 2013
An experiential certification training for Yoga and Health Professionals with Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT 500, author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists and a faculty of Yoga and Mental Health professionals. Register today to take advantage of our early bird pricing!
In addition to learning an evidence-based practice for both depression and anxiety, the LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner (LFYP) will learn ancient strategies from both Tantric and Classical Yoga traditions for self-care. LFYPs learn Yogic practices supported by current research in psycho-neurobiology.
Psychotherapists and other health professionals find they are able to offer their clients an alternative and/or adjunct treatment to medication, and to provide them with tools for internal mood-regulation and self-care. This manualized training is also suitable for those working with trauma.
Yoga professionals learn to design classes, workshops and individual sessions for students with mood disorders.
Full details on the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training can be found on the website.
Review: The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotions by Richard Brown, MD and Patricia Gerbarg, MD, (Shambhala, 2012)
Reviewed by Amy Weintraub
As pioneering researchers in the field of mind body practices and mental health, Drs. Gerbarg and Brown have researched the ancient traditions, both Eastern and Western, and know what works. They keep it simple–no religion, no deities–just clear breathing instruction easily introduced in a clinical setting or for use at home.
The authors have researched across cultures to find universal practices that they describe in simple language th
at is easy to follow. The anchor breath upon which other practices are added is Coherent Breathing, an even inhalation and exhalation that slows the breathing rate to five breaths per minute. This simple breath increases heart rate variability and balances the stress-response system.
In each practice, the authors offer trouble shooting tips—what to do if your nose is stuffed up, what if you fall asleep, what if you run out of breath, or what if the practice hurts the throat—so that practice can be adapted to every reader’s circumstance.
The authors suggest a combination of practices that they call “Total Breath.” This practice includes Coherent Breathing, the yoga pranayama Ujjayi, which they call “Resistance Breathing” and “Breath Moving,” an ancient practice from China, which involves visualizing the breath moving through different parts of the body. It’s fascinating to learn that many of these practices were developed independently in Hawaii, and by Russian monks. “Traces of these practices,” say the authors, “have remained as part of the training for elite Russian Special Forces soldiers.”
There are stories of healing in relationship through breath practice, as well as the beneficial impact on the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome. “I came away [from a two-day workshop with the authors] with a sense of being reunited with my life and my loved ones,” says a woman deeply affected by the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. The authors have taken their breathing training, “Breath~Body~Mind” to areas of the world where disaster has struck—the Sudan, first responders to the attack on the World Trade Center and into a clinical setting for those who have suffered from early childhood trauma. Brown and Gerbarg discuss these cases with compassion and insight, often using the patient’s words to describe their positive changes as a result of the breathing.
In addition to the narrative descriptions, the Appendix contains clear charts that indicate how and when to use each practice and the suggested order of practice.
In the CD included with the book. Dr. Brown leads listeners through each exercise. This is a wonderful learning tool that can be used daily to guide your own practice.
Sep 4 – Sep 11
The Divine Feminine Yoga Telesummit: Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World
This telesummit is free!
Sep 21 – Sep 23
I Am Bliss and So Are You
Be more than your mood with Yoga. Learn timeless Yoga practices not regularly taught in classes to access your wholeness. CEUs for Yoga Teachers. Princeton Center for Yoga and Health, 609-924-7294
Sep 28 – Sep 30
LifeForce Yoga: I Am Bliss and So Are You
Enjoy yoga practices to release whatever blocks you from remembering who you truly are. Improve your mood and welcome ease into your life. Satchidananda Ashram, Yogaville, 800-858-9642 CEUs for Yoga Teachers.
Oct 4 – Oct 7
Internal Family Systems Annual Conference
Amy will be leading LifeForce Yoga morning classes, afternoon meditations, and teaching a meditation workshop at the annual Internal Family Systems Conference. CEUs for health professionals.
LifeForce Yoga for Depression & Anxiety
Joyful Breath Yoga Studio
1:00 – 5:30 pm
Learn and practice breathing exercises, easy postures, guided meditations, and other effective, evidence-based, mood regulating yoga practices not regularly taught in yoga class. Empower yourself and those you serve! 401-290-7697 CEUs for Yoga Teachers.
Awakening Your Clients’ Inner Pharmacy
Workshop for Professionals – Yogic Strategies to Improve Mood, Soothe Anxiety and Reduce Trauma Reactivity appropriate for a clinical setting – with Liz Brenner. LICSW, LFYP-2 & Laura Orth, LICSW, LFYP-2. CEUs for mental health professionals and yoga teachers.
Oct 9 – Oct 12
Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association Annual Conference Conference
Amy will be keynoting with a YES! talk and teaching a workshop on yoga meditations for mood management. There will be many skill-building Workshops for Yoga Teachers, William Broad and Stephen Cope will be speaking, and Krishna Das will lead a kirtan! CEUs for yoga teachers.
Oct 20 – Oct 21
MISTY 2012 – Montreal International Symposium on Therapeutic Yoga
Amy will present an experiential workshop on Yoga for Mood Management, Saturday October 20th, 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m and a session on yoga and trauma on Sunday morning, 8:00 am — 10:00 am CEUs for yoga teachers. The Westin Montreal Hotel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 9 – Nov 11
Healing from Depression: Get Unstuck with LifeForce Yoga, with James Gordon, M.D.
Amy will be teaching with Dr. James Gordon, the author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression. Dance, laugh, breathe and chant your way to optimum mental health. Kripalu Center, 800-741-7353. CEU’s for mental health professionals and yoga teachers.