Issue 46: New Studies Show Benefits of Yoga & Quality of Life

I’m happy to share the news of several newly published studies that show the benefits of yoga for quality of life and emotional well being for breast cancer survivors and a new study that is the first to clearly show that yoga offers hope for pregnant women suffering from depression, many of whom choose not to take medication at this time in their lives.  Producing this newsletter every six weeks, inspires me, as I observe the continuing expansion in the field of yoga therapy and its integration into mainstream medical and psychological treatments.  I also have a chance to read and review wonderful new resources.  In the last newsletter I told you that I was slowly reading Stephen Cope’s book, The Great Work of Your Life, and I spoke about how it was initiating questions that have the potential to change mine.  Now, I’m happy to provide a full review of this important new book from one of yoga psychology’s most thoughtful authors.

There are also brief reviews of other products to support your well-being through yoga nidra and meditation.

I’m excited to introduce a version of the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training that anyone can attend.  It’s an experiential residential workshop at Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas for which professionals receive educational credit, but nonprofessionals may take as well.  Please see below for more details about this February program.

I’m happy to report that my new book Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management is selling well and garnering good reviews.  Here’s what one reviewer said: “This unique contribution to the integration of yoga, psychotherapy, and neuroscience provides an extensive set of practices for healing stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma . . . Amy deftly combines breathing, gestures, sounds, imagery, and meditation to address specific therapy issues such as mood, attachment, self esteem, and compassion. It is a pleasure to learn from master teacher, Amy Weintraub.” —Patricia Gerbarg, MD, assistant professor in clinical psychiatry, New York Medical College; co-author, How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, & Yoga in Mental Health and Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD.

I look forward to seeing many of you at Kripalu Center, where Dr. James Gordon and I, the psychiatrist who wrote the wonderful book on depression Unstuck will teach together November 9 – 11th.

In this Issue:

RESEARCH: Yoga and Breast Cancer

Within the last few months there have been a number of studies published on the benefits of yoga for breast cancer survivors. All the studies point to an improvement in quality of life (QOL). In a pilot study at the University of Pittsburgh, involving 25 survivors with low QOL, recently published in Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice, researchers found that those who had low emotional health had significant improvement in depression and anxiety scores.

In addition to the pilot study, there have been four literature reviews of yoga and breast cancer studies published recently. These literature reviews considered only substantial randomized and controlled trials (RCT). As concluded in the reviews, there is a growing body of evidence that supports yoga for after-treatment care. One literature review conducted in England found over 132 published studies, 18 of which were RCT. According to the authors, “all 18 studies reported positive effects for treatment-related side effects in favor of the yoga interventions, with the greatest impact on global quality of life (QOL) scores and emotional well-being.”

In a literature review conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, the authors found that sleep was significantly improved among breast cancer survivors practicing yoga. Improvements were also documented in anxiety, depression, distress, quality of life, and post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. A third literature review published in a Cancer Journal analyzed 12 RCT and found “evidence for short-term effects of yoga in improving psychological health in breast cancer patients.” A final review of studies conducted in China included many more trials, but they were not randomized and controlled. Still, this study points to the same conclusion: Yoga helps breast cancer survivors deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and helps restore emotional wellbeing.

Cramer H, Lange S, Klose P, Paul A, Dobos G., “Yoga for breast cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis,” BMC Cancer. 2012 Sep 18;12(1):412.

Harder H, Parlour L, Jenkins V., “Randomised controlled trials of yoga interventions for women with breast cancer: a systematic literature review.” Support Care Cancer. 2012 Oct 6.

Levine AS, Balk JL., “Pilot study of yoga for breast cancer survivors with poor quality of life,” Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):241-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.007.

Stan DL, Collins NM, Olsen MM, Croghan I, Pruthi S. “The evolution of mindfulness-based physical interventions in breast cancer survivors,” Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;2012:758641.

Zhang J, Yang KH, Tian JH, Wang CM. “Effects of Yoga on Psychologic Function and Quality of Life in Women with Breast Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2012 Aug 21.

RESEARCH: Pregnant Women with Depression Benefit from Yoga

Some expectant moms experience persistent irritability, depression, feelings of being overwhelmed and an inability to cope with stress. Depression and anxiety can be triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy, genetic predisposition and social factors. These mood states can interfere with bonding, both prenatally and after birth, so it’s important to treat mood disorders during pregnancy. Many pregnant women are reluctant to take a pharmacological agent that might affect the fetus, so, as previous studies have shown, they are receptive to complementary therapies like yoga.

In a pilot study conducted at the University of Michigan that used mindfulness yoga for psychiatrically at-risk women, researchers found this meditative style of yoga, which pays attention to breath and body sensation was feasible, accepted and effective. Symptoms of depression were significantly reduced, while mindfulness and maternal-fetal attachment significantly increased. The study evaluated 18 women who showed signs of depression and who were between 12-26 weeks pregnant. They participated in 90-minute mindfulness yoga sessions that focused on poses for the pregnant body, as well as support in the awareness of how their bodies were changing to help their babies grow.

“Our work,” says the study’s lead author Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., “provides promising first evidence that mindfulness yoga may be an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment for pregnant women showing signs of depression. This promotes both mother and baby wellbeing.”

Muzik M, Hamilton SE, Rosenblum K, Waxler E, Hadi L, “Mindfulness yoga during pregnancy for psychiatrically at-risk women: Preliminary results from a pilot feasibility study,” Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):235-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.006.

RESEARCH NEWS: Bipolar Disorder and Yoga study Looking for Subjects

Do you have bipolar disorder or manic depression & practice yoga?

Researchers at Brown University and Butler Hospital are looking for people with bipolar disorder or manic depression who practice yoga to complete an online survey. The purpose of this study is to understand how yoga practice affects individuals with bipolar disorder. If you are 18 years of age or older, have bipolar disorder or manic-depression, and you practice yoga, you are welcome to participate in this study. The online survey should take 20 minutes or less. We hope that the information we collect will be useful in designing a yoga program specifically for people with bipolar disorder or manic depression. If you are interested in participating in this study, please click on the link below. This link will take you to the informed consent statement first, followed by the survey if you agree to participate.

TRAINING NEWS: New Format for LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training and Upcoming Residentials

You asked for more trainings, so we’ve added this new way of becoming a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner.  The first part of the three-part training is fully experiential–a retreat format in the Bahamas, and you don’t have to be a yoga teacher or medical professional to attend.  However, if you are a mental health professional, nurse or a yoga teacher, you will receive CEUs.  For more information about the Practitioner Training Program can be found here: Read on for three opportunities to take the training.

LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training in Three Sections:
Offered at Sivananda Ashram, Paradise Island, Bahamas. February 7 – 11, 2013 (5 full days; 6 nights required as we start on the morning of the 7th and end on the evening of the 11th) Registration information. 26 CEs for NASW, NAADAC, Nurses.
This Experiential workshop is open to all with yoga experience and is Part A of a 3-Part certification course to become a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner – level 1.

Our annual Tucson LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training and Retreat for professionals in January is filling fast. There are just a few places left. We watch the sun rise over the valley from our beautiful program room in the Tucson Mountains, as we do our morning yoga and meditation practice. Offered at Desert Redemptorist Renewal Center, Tucson, Arizona, January 12 – 19, 2013. Registration information. Please note that only Double Rooms are available at this time, but all rooms have private baths. 58 CEs for NASW.

For the first time, we are offering a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training at Yogaville, near Charlottesville, VA, April 7 -14, 2013. This training in April is open for registration now. This program is qualified for 58 CEUs in the state of Florida for nurses and addiction and mental health professionals. Amy will be joined by guest faculty Robin Carnes, MBA, E-RYT500 as well as LifeForce Yoga Practitioners Rose Kress, RYT500 and Ann Friedenheim, MA, CAADC, RYT.

TRAINING NEWS: LifeForce Yoga 200-hour Teacher Training in Tucson

Hara KumbhakaThis new two-part residential training begins in Tucson after Thanksgiving in 2013.  Master Yogi and Kripalu Teacher Trainer Rudy Pierce, joins Amy Weintraub to direct this 200 hour training, with structural Yoga Therapist Maria Kalima and other senior Kripalu and LifeForce Yoga teachers.
In this training you will learn how to guide truly transformational yoga. We take our philosophical base from the classical yoga texts and the decades-deep well of practice and experience that directors Amy Weintraub, Rudy Pierce and our exceptional faculty bring. Their depth of study and passion for training teachers, form the incredibly rich container for this unique yoga teacher training experience.

TRAINING NEWS: New Level 1 Internal Family Systems Trainings

IFS is so closely aligned to yoga philosophy in its cultivation of witnessing Self energy that a therapy session may feel like a yoga class. A number of LifeForce Yoga Practitioners, some who are psychotherapists and some who are yoga teachers, have taken this training.  You need not be a licensed mental health professional to attend.  I took the level 1 & 2 IFS training and found it of tremendous benefit both personally and professionally.

NEW LEVEL 1 IFS TRAININGS:,, 708.383.2519

REVIEW: The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope

“You cannot steer your dharma with the vehicle of self-will—the will of the small “s” self.” – Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

Do not read The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope, if you are not prepared to re-examine your life. If, like me, you never want to stop growing, if you want your actions to be aligned with your most authentic expression of self, if you are fascinated by the elements that create a meaningful life of service and love in the world—and how they manifest in extraordinary lives like Beethoven, Harriet Tubman and Gandhi and ordinary lives like yours and mine, then this is a book you must read. Savor it, discuss it, read it out loud and let it be the basis for your next study group.

Author, psychotherapist and yogi Stephen Cope is the director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu Center and he brings the light of one of India’s most sacred texts to the seeker’s central question of living a purposeful life. This deep inquiry is rooted in the Bhagavad Gita, but you need not have an interest in yoga to explore with him questions of meaning and purpose central to your own life. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a young person’s book—perfect for the college graduate trying to find his way in the world or the young mother contemplating whether to stay home with her adored newborn or return to the work she loves and for which she has prepared herself. It is a young person’s book. But it’s also a mid-career person’s book. It’s also a book that gives meaning to changing careers, to retirement, to accepting health challenges, to aging and to death.

How does Cope address so many of our deepest concerns? He does this through the lives examined in the twelve chapters, each of which could be its own book. Cope is so honest about his own fears that, as readers, we cannot run from ours.

We meet characters paralyzed by doubt, caught between two conflicting choices, just as Arjuna was in the great battle that is the catalyst for the dialogue with his charioteer Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. We meet characters who feel their dharma has been “used up.” What happens when we’ve been living our passion for decades, and it has begun to grow stale? Other characters are living lives tangential to their dharma without going full out. The stories of how ordinary people have tackled such dilemmas may push us into taking the action to reinvent ourselves.

The writing is clear, sharp, passionate, and contagious. How can you not explore your choices, past and future, along with Cope as he illuminates the lives of John Keats, “whose life was a bonfire of desire for dharma,” or Marion Woodman, who is “living with death as a daily ally,” or Cope himself, who asks himself if his “concern for living fully…is driven precisely by this. By death”?

Before reading the Great Work of Your Life, I often asked of myself and my students: How can I strip away what is no longer serving? I meant serving me, serving you. Now I am asking myself: How can I strip away what is no longer serving the world?

I’ll end this review with a quote from the epilogue of the book. “Dharma saves us not by ending but rather redeeming our suffering. … It enables us to bear our suffering. And, most important, it enables our suffering to bear fruit for the world.”

Available for purchase on Amazon.

Media Mention: Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra: Short and Long Journeys for Relaxation All Day Long (CD) by Jennifer Reis

Witness yourself peaceful and spacious as Jennifer leads you along the path of Divine Sleep. Jennifer has created a CD that includes short relaxation breaks for busy people, as well as two complete Yoga Nidra tracks. The short recordings are quick yet soothing; in three minutes she leads you through “Getting Grounded,” a practice to reconnect with the support of the Earth beneath you. In these shorter practices, you might wish to take a break, connect with your heart, relax into a body scan, experience your vital energy or let her lead you to a pond. If you like to be guided on imagistic journeys as you meditate, then this is a CD you will enjoy.  Jennifer’s voice is serene and clear on this CD, as she leads her own creative visualizations in two full Yoga Nidra practices. Jennifer is accompanied by music that is soft, soothing and unobtrusive. Musicians are Mark Kelso and Bob Daly.

Available for purchase through Jennifer Reis’ website

Media Mention: Meditation for your Life: Creating a Plan that Suits Your Style by Robert Butera, PhD.

This book is perfect for anyone who struggles with meditation. Often when we have mood issues, there is an accompanying thought pattern of negative self-talk. Folks who suffer from anxiety and depression may not question that judging internal voice, because they have not developed the capacity to observe thoughts and feelings that mindfulness meditation can cultivate. For a new meditator who has not yet developed the “witness” (that ability to observe and tolerate negative thoughts and feelings without fusing with them), simply watching the breath can exacerbate rumination and may be contraindicated.  What yogi and master teacher Butera’s well written book offers are six other types of meditation that can help focus the mind and relax the body.  This is a practical book with numerous practices–a must-read for teachers, therapists and yoga students.

Purchase on Amazon

Upcoming Events

Oct 20 – Oct 21
Montreal, Canada
MISTY 2012 – Montreal International Symposium on Therapeutic Yoga
The Westin Montreal Hotel,
Amy will present an experiential workshop on Yoga for Mood Management, Saturday October 20th, 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. CEUs.

Nov 9 – Nov 11
Stockbridge, MA
Healing from Depression: Get Unstuck with LifeForce Yoga, with James Gordon, M.D.
Kripalu Center, 800-741-7353
Dr. James Gordon is 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. . CEU’s for mental health professionals and yoga teachers.

Nov 16 – Nov 18
Austin, TX, Yoga Yoga Westgate, 512-358-1200
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
In this inspiring workshop, you will learn and practice breathing exercises, easy postures, guided meditations, and other effective yoga practices not regularly taught in yoga class for managing mood. CEUs for Yoga Teachers.

Nov 30 – Dec 2
Tucson, AZ, Yoga Flow, 520-321-9642
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
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! CEUs for Yoga Teachers.


Jan 12 – Jan 19
Tucson, AZ
LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training For Depression & Anxiety – Level 1
Desert Resemptorist Renewal Center, 520-349-2644.
This is a certification training for yoga teachers and health professionals. Learn and practice simple Yoga tools to empower your clients and students to manage their moods. Amy will be assisted by LifeForce Yoga Practitioners, both Yoga and mental health professionals. If you have questions regarding eligibility, please contact Rose Kress, CEUs for mental health professionals and yoga teachers.

Feb 1 – Feb 3
Stockbridge, MA
I Am Bliss and So Are You: Manage Your Mood with LifeForce Yoga.
Kripalu Center, 800-741-7353
Come home to the joy that is your birthright as Amy guides you through practices to clear the space and let you radiant self shine.

Feb 7 – Feb 11
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Yoga for Mood Management: LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training, Part A – Experiential
Sivananda Ashram, 866-466-5934
This Experiential workshop is open to all with Yoga experience. Take this program for your own self-care. If you are a health professional or yoga teacher, this can be taken as Part A of a 3-Part certification course to become a LifeForce Yoga Practitioner. CEUs for mental health professionals and yoga teachers.

Feb 22 – Feb 24
Watsonville, CA
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Your Mood
Mount Madonna, 408-846-4064
Empower yourself to manage your mood naturally. Learn and practice yoga breathing, mantra chanting, mudras and accessible postures. Leave feeling lighter and brighter with the skills to stay that way. All are welcome. CEUs for yoga teachers.

Full Calendar of Events at

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

“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.
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
“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
“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 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 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.
“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 gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“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
“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
“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 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
“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
“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
“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 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
“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
“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
“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 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 gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
“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
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