As I write this, the world is mourning the loss of 26 precious beings, 20 of them six and seven year-olds. As we grieve, and we must allow ourselves to feel it, we release the poisonous effect on our nervous systems, and we create more space for joy to flow through. Yoga teaches us that we must feel it all. We can neither live in the dark nor dwell in the light, for both are needed to know the fullness of life in a body-mind. According to the Vedic astrological calendar, we are coming into a period of planetary turmoil (no, not Armageddon, nor the end of the world). Read on for insight about this period from Vedic astrologer, Natasha Korshak. But as the planet trembles with trouble, our practices become vital, not only to reconnect us with what is eternal and unchanging every day, but also to open our hearts to be more connected to each other. We need our friends and our families and our communities more than ever. I’m thinking of Swami Satchidananda’s words, “Love all. Serve all.” So simple. When we practice with attention to breath and sensation, we clear so many constrictions that prevent us from doing just that.
Just as it’s important to mourn, it’s important to celebrate, and this issue celebrates a wonderful new tool to support your practice–a learn to chant CD by LifeForce Yoga Program Manager Rose Kress reviewed below. Also read about a book that can help you through the times of overwhelm written by psychologist and yoga teacher Karen Horneffer-Ginter, and a read a brief review of a quirky, inspiring book about miracles by a pianist, holocaust survivor, yogi and atheist.
Science writer William Broad’s controversial The Science of Yoga has just been released in paperback with a new “Afterward.” Read excerpts from LifeForce Yoga Practitioner and clinical social worker Sherry Rubin’s balanced review, which we are running again with an additional comment about the “Afterward.” If you would like to read the entire review, it’s in issue # 42. Each of these books would make a great last-minute stocking stuffer or gift of survival for yourself, as would any of the LifeForce Yoga collection of evidence-based, mood-managing CDs and DVDs.
Finally, Anne Hallward, MD interviewed me on Safe Space Radio about my own history of depression, as well as current research on yoga and mental health. We also practiced yoga on-air live together, and you can practice with the recording. There’s a link to listen for free below.
No research in this newsletter. It’s the holidays and I’m busy! But the next issue will be chock full.
I hope to see you at one of the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Trainings or a workshop soon! Blessings on sustaining balance and well being throughout this turbulent and joyful time.
A loving namasté,
In This Issue:
- News: Not the End of the World
- News: Amy on Safe Space Radi
- News: LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training ~ 20 Days Left to Register
- Review: Mantra Chanting with Rose by Rose Kress
- Review: Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit by Karen Horneffer-Ginter
- Book Review: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards by William J. Broad; Reviewed by Sherry Rubin (& Amy)
- Media Mention: The Atheist’s Guide to Miracles by Peter Elyakim Taussig
- Free Gift from Deirdre Fay
- Calendar Highlights
Jyotish (Indian Vedic astrology) does not predict the end of the world on 12/21 as does the Mayan calendar. However, it informs us that we are entering into a period that is historically challenging for the world. For the next 18 months, the planetary configurations are correlated with increases in warfare, violence, natural disasters, revolution, and economic downturns. This combination happens every 11 years or so, so it is not about the world ending, but a time to be careful. According to my Vedic astrologer friend Nastasha Korshak, from whom I received this information, the apex of this transit will be around September 25, 2013.
Dr. Anne Hallward interviews senior yoga teacher and author, Amy Weintraub about her own experience of depression and how yoga helped her get off medication and live in a more joyous, passionate and heartfelt way. Amy describes how yoga helps with depression on all levels, biologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. She refers to studies showing that after just one class, levels of the stress hormone, cortisol fall, and how, over time, levels of gaba (a calming neurotransmitter), Brain derived neurotrophic factor (involved in fostering the growth of new neurons), and oxytocin (the hormone associated with bonding) all rise. Amy leads us through several breathing exercises to help give energy, reduce anxiety and lift mood.
We have a few places left in the Tucson LifeForce Practitioner Training for Depression and Anxiety. This is 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. The training takes place in a beautiful residential setting, January 12 – 19. 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.
I’ve known Rose as a student, a yoga teacher and as the program manager for the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, so I can’t claim that this is an entirely unbiased review. However, I can tell you that this CD has supplanted Krishna Das, David Newman, Wah, and many other kirtan chanting CD’s on my iPod and has become my chant-along choice during my morning sadhana (practice). The reason I love it, is that it’s instructional. It breaks down my favorite chants, translates them, and lets me repeat line by line, call and response until I know them seamlessly. True, I already knew most of these chants and have led them myself, but there is one I have struggled with, and am finally learning now, because I chant along with Rose every morning. It’s the sacred “Purnamada” chant that gives meaning to my life and practice. It expresses the understanding that all is one, not separate from the Absolute. It’s a beautiful chant but all those Purnami-das , -dams and -dats are hard to keep straight. The other mantras on this CD are my favorites. As Rose explains in the introduction, they aren’t devotional, but rather universal reminders of our Wholeness. In addition to “Purnamada,” They include “Atma Hrdaye,” “Lokah Samasta,” “Asato Ma,” “The Gayatri Mantra,” and “Maha Mrityunjaya.” After breaking each mantra down in call and response form so that you easily learn it, Rose (and I–you, too, if you join in) chant the mantra 27 times. Not only is this CD a beautiful accompaniment to asana practice, but it is a wonderful portal into meditation.
Order your copy: yogafordepression.com/audio/mantra-chanting-with-rose-cd/
The time you take to read this book, written by a psychologist and yoga teacher with a strong mindfulness meditation practice, may create more space to do what your love. Reading it and following the practices, can help you make choices about your work, your play, the time you spend with family and friends that make those moments meaningful and sacred. Horneffer-Ginter writes as though she’s your true friend, the one who tells you not what you want to hear but what you need to hear to save your life or to simply have a better experience than the one you’re having now. She writes with great understanding because she’s been there, done that–has run on empty, trying too hard to “serve” or was that “to please”? She calls herself a “recovering replier,” who felt guilty if she didn’t respond to every phone call and answer every email and as quickly as possible. How can we do the real work we are meant to do, the larger service to the world we live in, if we are constricting ourselves to the daily barrage of email? She teaches us ways to prioritize so that we know when to say “no.” Within each chapter there are short, practical teaching sections that use anecdotes from her practice as a psychologist and from her own life and are then followed by self-inquiry questions and concrete practices that can help bring us back into balance. She uses the analogy of a pie with six slices, each one representing a different aspect of our lives–everything from Home & Family to Work Service and Spirit. As I looked at the aspects of my life laid out as wedges of a pie, it was easy too see where some slices were overwhelmingly large, which gave little room for aspects of my life that are undernourished. Hornerffer-Ginter endears herself to the reader–how human she is as she panics on a roller coaster with her daughter and despite years of meditation, calls out to God to be with her 100s of times. In her genuine disclosure of her panic and fear, we see ourselves reflected and know we’re not alone. As she shares her own Topsy-turvy moments, her vulnerabilities and her missteps, she creates a map for us out of the dense forest of our own overwhelming busyness. We learn from the cow paths and dead ends she’s taken on the way. Every question she asks the reader to consider, she has asked of herself. We sense that the author’s balance has been hard won, and so we trust her to bushwhack a path toward living a fuller, more meaningful life.
Book Review: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards by William J. Broad
Reviewed by Sherry Rubin, LCSW, LFYP-2
Author William Broad, a senior science writer at the New York Times, has won impressive awards for his journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize. He has also practiced yoga since 1970 and sets out in this book to, in his words, “…zero in relentlessly on what science tells us about postural yoga….I mean no disrespect to the Hindu religion or spiritual traditions that embrace the big picture. But if this book succeeds, it does so because it limits itself to a poorly known body of reductionist findings.” Many criticisms I have heard and read center around Broad not addressing the “big picture,” but, as he clearly states, that was not his intent.
Read the rest of Sherry’s review:
About the new “Afterward”
Sherry Rubin’s original review ends this way: “I highly recommend this important, informative, controversial, well written and researched book. Broad is the most provocative in precisely those areas (safety and the future of yoga) where we will benefit the most from learning as much as we can and coming together to dialogue. I hope the stir this book has caused can be usefully channeled into important conversations that will serve yoga and all of its stakeholders.” Sherry’s hope seems to have been realized. As Broad explains in the “Afterward” included in the paperback version of the book, the enormous outcry from yogis has been accompanied by serious reevaluations of what and how many yoga classes are led and how yoga teachers are trained. Broad continues to sound the alarm about yoga, particularly the risk of stroke from practicing shoulder stand and plow poses, citing new statistics of emergency room visits for yoga related injuries. He carries on the debate in his description of his appearance at a Yoga Journal Conference, where he felt he was arguing against a wall of denial about the serious risk of stroke. He includes the most common questions, many of them attacking, that he received after the book’s publication and answers them with research as well as anecdotal evidence, much of it culled from the many communications that poured in from readers who have been injured in the practice of yoga. Broad has been sharply criticized by many in the yoga world, who feel he sensationalized the risks as a way to sell books, and that the risk of stroke is extremely low. But Broad feels that whatever the actual risk, stroke is a life-threatening, life-changing injury that should be avoided at all costs. Despite the the risks, Broad continues to roll out his mat every day. But he no longer includes shoulder stand and plow in his practice. “Today,” says Broad, “given my tour of yoga’s inner sanctum–I could write an encyclopedia of dysfunction. Yet I still see the rewards as outweighing the risks.”
This book is an amazing amalgam of story and…ahem…despite the title, a backhanded spiritual guide. And what a story Taussing tells–born Jewish under Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia and hidden in the basement of a Gestapo headquarters, he immigrates with his family to Israel, becomes a soldier in the Six-Day War, a concert pianist, a stand-up comedian, immigrates to Canada, and spends time as a yogi in an ashram (Kripalu), all before he turns 50. Oh, and did I mention that he’s also a composer? With wit and the sideways view of life that flight and immigration and remaining an alien (he’s still Czech, Israeli and Canadian although he lives in the US.), Taussig offers a darkly humorous and yet, yes, spiritual perspective on understanding the synchronicity of miracles and, yes, also creating them.
Trauma specialist Deirdre Fay writes one of the best blogs I know on mental health and has helped thousands of trauma survivors become “safely embodied” through her Becoming Safely Embodied programs and tools. She is offering a gift of a new meditation she calls “Nourishing the Heart.”
Jan 12 – Jan 19
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. CEUs for mental health professionals and yoga teachers.
Feb 1 – Feb 3
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
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.
Mar 20 – Mar 24
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium
Amy will be leading morning yoga, afternoon meditations, a full Creativity Day workshop, along with a clinical presentation. Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Mar 29 – Mar 30
Silver Spring, MD
LifeForce Yoga to Manage Anxiety
In this inspiring workshop, you will learn and practice the timeless teachings of yoga—some will be quick fixes to bring you back into balance on the spot, and other practices will serve, over time, to strengthen your peace of mind no matter what challenges you face. Willow Street Yoga Center, 301-270-8038
Full Calendar of Events at yogafordepression.com/calendar/
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: It’s not on the website yet, but Amy has just been invited to teach in Dallas at the Dallas Yoga Center, April 26-28, 2013. Stay tuned for further details.