Issue 5

LifeForce Yoga® for Depression News

From Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT (500),

author, Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books)

Dear Friends, Colleagues & Students,

The ambrosial hours are the sweet, quiet, and still moments in the early morning before dawn when the sun is at about a 30-degree angle with the earth. This angle has a profoundly positive effect on the magnetic field of our planet and, therefore, on your energy as well.

–Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., The End of Karma (Hay House)

Message from Amy:

How happy I am when I can begin my practice just before dawn and watch the light changing outside my window. These days, as I do my standing balancing practice in the rising light, I don’t need to turn on any devices to get the weather report. I can see folks walking to the Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club near where I live in light weight jackets or sweatshirts. And I keep my window slightly open as I practice, so fresh air is always present.

As I suggest to those gathered at my workshops, take the time in the morning to clear the space within, and don’t beat yourself up if you have too little time to roll out your mat. The simple practice of the Breath of Joy, or a round of Bellows Breath can lift your mood and clear your mind. If you’re a beginner, take baby steps. As I once heard Deborah Rogers, a gifted Arizona Yoga Teacher tell her multi-level class, “In Yoga, there are no beginners and no advanced practitioners. You’re either on the path or stepping onto it.” Welcome All!

Welcome to the 5th issue of the LifeForce Yoga® for Depression Newsletter! In this issue, I’ll review several new books relevant to yoga and mood, look at a bit of new research on the subject, provide an update on the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Retreat in Tucson , which has been approved for Continuing Education Credits for social workers and licensed counselors, and provide the current schedule of workshops and trainings for 2005 and 2006.

A special thanks to Rose Kress, RYT, for editorial assistance and computer wizardry.

In this Issue:



Schedule of Workshops & Trainings


NEWS: Yoga

Disaster Relief & Trauma Recovery

As reported by Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, assistant professor in clinical psychiatry, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, and Richard P. Brown, MD, associate professor in clinical psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians, New York, NY (He wrote the medical forward to my book YOGA FOR DEPRESSION), in the October issue of Current Psychiatry: Seventeen teachers trained in a disaster-specific yoga breathing intervention traveled South just days after Hurricane Katrina. Yoga-based trauma relief programs are a cost- effective way to rapidly relieve posttraumatic stress symptoms and depression in populations affected by disasters. Experience from the 2001 World Trade Center attacks and December 2004 tsunami show these programs can help patients of all ages, with minimal risk. Drs. Brown and Gerbarg’s article describes two programs shown to ameliorate anxiety, depression, insomnia, hyperarousal and re-experiencing (flashbacks) in survivors of war, terrorism, and natural disasters.

To read a story about one center in Charlotte, N.C. that is offering yoga to victims of sexual assault so that they can begin to safely reconnect with their bodies, click here.

NEWS: LifeForce Yoga® Tucson Retreat & Training – January

UPDATE: CE Credit!

Good news for Mental Health Professionals! The Arizona Chapter of the NASW has approved the retreat for 19.5 Continuing Education hours.

We are nearing the deadline for registration for the January retreat & training. After December 1, registrations will be accepted on a space available basis, with a late fee.

As many of you know by now, due to an unfortunate fire, the Tucson retreat in January has been relocated to the beautiful boutique spa resort, Rex Ranch. As my teacher, Richard Miller said when I told him about the fire, “doors open, doors close, doors open.” Indeed, a beautiful archway has opened onto a vista of fountains and rose gardens and early morning birdsong, just south of Tucson. Please visit Rex Ranch on line.

During program breaks, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy sessions will be available with Jesse Lee, as well as a variety of spa treatments.

As of November 10th, we have PayPal options, so if you would like to pay by credit card, please visit the web site.

NEWS: Richard Miller’s Yoga Nidra book and CD Available

Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga by Richard Miller, Ph.D.

By the end of November, Sounds True will begin shipping Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga. I read a pre-publication version and can tell you that Richard plums the depths of what this practice can offer on every level of your existence. It can be pre- ordered on Amazon or through Richard’s office by calling Nancy: 707-876-3380.

Here’s a quote from the book:

“Yoga Nidra teaches you how to recognize and disidentify from your core negative beliefs and habit patterns, which hinder and cripple you from leading a truly contented life free from dissatisfaction and suffering. Dissatisfaction and suffering (Sanskrit: duhkha = dissatisfaction, suffering) arise when you mentally attach to expectations and outcomes that are other than what life is offering. When we accept life as it is, dissatisfaction and suffering cease, and we learn to deal with reality on its own terms, rather than through what our mind desires.

“When we accept life, we realize that every situation is paired with its perfect response of right action that when engaged, leads us to experience a sense of perfection in each moment.”

Research: Bulima and Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Brought to my attention by H. F., Boston

H.F., who has been recovering from bulima for fourteen years, wrote to tell me that she had been practicing several pranayama breathing exercises and a kriya (cleansing action) called Kapalabhati (Skull Shining) that I taught last month during a workshop (LifeForce Yoga® for Mood Management) at the Arlington Center in Arlington, MA. In her words, “I feel like I have had a breakthrough because my digestive system feels much better and I am more stable in my recovery than ever. Just as your last newsletter says, if you can stimulate the vagus nerve with breathing, why get the device implanted?”

What H.F. is referring to is the recently approved VNS (vagus nerve stimulator) I discussed in the last newsletter, which, in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry, showed positive initial results for patients with bulimia nervosa when treated with Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS). This is a device that is surgically implanted in the larnyx and was developed for epilespy patients. It has recently been approved by the FDA as a treatment for depression.

To read a report of the study click here.

The report of the study suggests that the VNS may have a pacemaker-like effect that eliminates the extreme oscillations of activity in the vagus nerve that drives bulimic behaviors. This raises the question of why yogic breathing that involves belly pumping (as does kapalabhati) would seem to be helping H.F., and others with whom I have worked, control their bulimia, since it more likely activates than reduces the oscillations. No research has been done on these yogic breathing exercises and the treatment of bulimia, but if I were to guess why H.F. and others feel better, I might wonder if the mechanism is based on the contraction and release action inherent in all yoga poses. Perhaps the temporary stimulation may be followed by a deeper state of relaxation, and more control.


Iyengar Yoga and Breast Cancer

Researchers at Washington State University in Spokane found that a basic level-I program of Iyengar Yoga meets The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommendations for increasing physical activity during and after treatment for breast cancer.

There has been some limited research into the efficacy of Yoga as a tool for breast cancer survivors. Previous research studies indicate that Yoga helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels in breast cancer survivors as well as improving overall sleep habits.

Blank, Kittel and Haberman conducted a study using Iyengar Yoga because preliminary results show that it meets the ACS’s recommendations for physical activity but also induces relaxation in participants. Poses for this study included many standing poses, chest and shoulder openers and inversions.

The results were that 75% of the women felt that they benefited from the structure and intensity level of the class. 25% of the women said that their joint aches and shoulder stiffness were relieved. 88% reported a decreased stress level, while 63% stated an improved mood with less anxiety.

Source: Blank, S.E, Kittel, J., Haberman, M.R., “Active Practice of Iyengar Yoga as an Intervention for Breast Cancer Survivors,” International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 15:51-59.

Research: Yoga

Chant and Be Happy

An eight-week pilot study of the effects of yogic chanting on respiratory function and mood in eleven mild to severely depressed particpants, indicates that chanting elevates mood and increases breath control.

At the end of the study, participants showed increased breath control as well as an increase in their expiatory output. Participants demonstrated an increase in positive statements, such as “I feel hopeful,” and a decrease in negative statements, like “I feel tired,” at the end of each chanting class.

The study’s authors state that “In as little as one hour of chanting, in addition to reporting increased mood, participants’ thoughts about themselves noticeably improved.”

Source: Kenny, M., Bernier, R., DeMartini, C., “Chant and Be Happy: The Effects of Chanting on Respitory Function and General Well-Being in Individuals Diagnosed with Depression,” International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 2005, 15:61-64.



In November, I’ll be teaching at the Yoga Sanctuary in Las Vegas for the first time, then back to Austin to teach LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues at the Crossings, a beautiful spa and healing retreat center. On Sunday, November 20th, at the Crossings, I’ll be addressing a meeting of the Texas Yoga Teacher’s Association.

And don’t forget to save money and insure your place by registering for the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Retreat & Training by December 1.Click here.

LifeForce Yoga® Workshop & Training Schedule




Las Vegas, NV

November 11 – 13, 2005

LifeForce Yoga® for Mood Management, Sherry Goldstein’s Yoga Sanctuary, 702 240-7666

Austin, TX

November 18 – 20, 2005

Yoga to Beat the Blues, The Crossings, 877-944- 3003

Tucson, AZ

January 7 – 12th, 2006

NEW! First LifeForce Yoga® Healing Intensive (CE credits available) in Tucson. [click here to go to the brochure.] Info: Rose Kress – 520 349-2644.

Lenox, MA

February 24 – 26, 2006

Yoga to Beat the Blues, Kripalu Center, 800-741- 7353

Austin, TX

March 3-5, 2006

LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, The Crossings, 877 944-3003

Washington, DC

March 16 – 20th, 2006

< b>Psychotherapy Networker Symposium – Amy will lead a Pre-Conference Day-Long Workshop, Clinical presentation: Yoga as Complementary Treatment for Mood Disorders, Morning Yoga & Afternoon Integration practice.

Washington, DC

March 19th, 2006

1:30 – 5:30 PM

LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, Spiral FLIGHT, 1826 Wisconsin Avenue, NW 202.965.1645, m

Columbus, Ohio

April 28, 2006


LifeForce Yoga® for Depression and Anxiety—Intro, Yoga on High, 1081 North High St.,, 614 291-4444.

Columbus, Ohio

April 28 – 30th, 2006

Fri: 7:30– 9:30PM;

Sat: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM;

2:00 – 5:00 PM; Sun: 9:30AM – 1:00 PM

LifeForce Yoga® for Depression and Anxiety, Yoga on High, 1081 North High St.,, 614 291-4444.

Austin, TX

May 21 – 26, 2006

LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, The Crossings, 877 944-3003 CEU’s available

Watsonville, CA

June 2 – 4th, 2006.

June 2 – 6th, 2006

LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues! Mount Madonna Center

(408) 847- 0406

Lenox, MA

July 2 – 7, 2006

LifeForce Yoga® Training for Depression & Anxiety, Kripalu Center, 800-741- 7353

Rhinebeck, NY

July 7 — 9th, 2006

Yoga to Beat the Blues, Omega Institute, 800-944- 1001

Rhinebeck, NY

July 10 — 14th, 2006

LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, Omega Institute, 800-944- 1001

Lenox, MA

September 8–10, 2006

Breathe to Beat the Blues, Kripalu Center, 800-741- 7353

Lenox, MA

September 10–15, 2006

LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, Kripalu Center, 800-741- 7353

New York, NY

September 15–17, 2006

Presenter, Omega Institute Yoga Conference, 800-944-1001

Austin, TX

November 3-5, 2006

Yoga to Beat the Blues, The Crossings, 877-944-3003


THE END OF KARMA: 40 Days to Perfect Peace, Tranquility, and Joy by Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.

Based on a beautiful translation of the Japji Sahib, a classic text written 500 years ago by the first great Sikh master, Guru Nanak, Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., gives us forty days of contemplations and practices to cleanse the spirit and release karma. This is an inspiring book to read, short chapter by chapter each morning, as a way to “always remember God.” The End of Karma, says Khalsa, “is designed to help you have that experience of feeling God within your being every day of your life.”

If you find yourself uncomfortable, as I sometimes did, with remembering God as a personal, and, in particular, a gendered deity, you might translate Khalsa’s words back to Guru Nanak’s, who most often uses “Divine Spirit.”

When I first received this lovely book to review, I was skeptical about the subtitle–the 40 Days claim. However, after following this prescription, along with my regular yoga and meditation practice each morning, I am more consistently reminded of the truth of my being. But, as Khalsa suggests towards the end of the book, don’t stop after 40 days. To clear the space for the energy of the divine to flow through and to begin to recognize that you are not separate from that energy, the practice (whatever it is, and it most certainly can include the re-reading of the chapters in this book) must continue on a daily basis. To find out more about The End of Karma, visit .


SELF-AWAKENING YOGA: The Expansion of Consciousness Through the Body’s Own Wisdom by Don Stapleton, Ph.D.

Master yoga teacher, Don Stapleton, Ph.D., writes a book that inspires and teaches Hatha Yoga from the inside out. He returns, again and again, to the spirit of inquiry and creativity modeled in the origins of Yoga. This is a book that encourages experimentation and self-inquiry over a formula of daily practice. His own practice has evolved from a “direct listening to the body,” which, given the mind’s habit of ranging through time, is the most direct way of moving into the present moment where consciousness may begin to expand.

Stapleton’s Self-Awakening Yoga is designed to awaken the witness consciousness within us, a “discriminative wisdom” that allows us to respond to life and all its challenges with equanimity and greater self-awareness. In order to awaken the witness, rather than strict practices, he provides a series of inquires. These inquiries not only develop an expanded consciousness as we practice, but empower the student to own and explore each movement, each breath, rather than to automatically repeat a rote sequence of poses. This brings the authority back to the practitioner.

Stapleton is very clear that the authority for an individual’s practice rests within each of us. Although he acknowledges that there is always a “Simon Says” stage of learning, in which, in order to learn alignment and safety in a pose, one must give over authority to an instructor. He says, “It is essential to bring the locus of authority back inside your own world to reality check: Is what I’m hearing true for me? Does this work for me? What is missing here?”

The Witness is developed on the mat through a process Stapleton calls the “As Is” priniciple: Awareness of Sensation through Internal Scanning. “The priniciple of accepting yourself,” he says, “and your experience as you are is fundamental to developing witness consciousness.”

Throughout the book Stapleton offers practices he calls “Explorations,” with clear instructions and photographs, as well as practices that integrate the knowledge we’ve gained by directly listening to the body. Included with the book is an hour-length audio CD, which offers four separate inquiries into aspects of self, through a deep body-listening. For more information about Self-Awakening Yoga and Don Stapleton’s Nosara Yoga Institute, visit nosarayoga. com

Other Resources:

International Association of Yoga Therapists:

This organization maintains a vast database of Yoga research, a library, publishes a yearly journal, and a tri-annual newsletter with current research and articles. In addition, IAYT maintains a searchable online member database, which folks can use to locate a Yoga therapist/teacher in their local area. (They currently do not do any verification of training and experience.) If you are a health professional, a Yoga teacher or therapist or have an interest in Yoga therapeutics, I highly encourage you to become a member.

Yoga for Depression

To learn move about Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books)

To listen to Amy’s audio practice CD, Breathe to Beat the Blues

Blessings on recovering and maintaining your positive mental health!


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

“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“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
“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.
“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.
“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 gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“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
“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
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 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 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 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 gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
“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
“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
“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 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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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 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.
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