Research Newsletter Issue 69: Book Review on Adaptive Yoga, and New Validating Research on Yoga for Mood

13164310_10154298922374642_2708672045126922480_nWhat a gift it is to meet yoga practitioners from diverse backgrounds, cultures and countries!  I was recently teaching in Australia and fell in love—with the people, the beaches, the cities, the wildlife and the practice of yoga, all over again.  Thank you to the many kind yogins who hosted me and whom I met! You know who you are.  

In this issue we focus on a new book about adaptive yoga, so important now that people come to yoga for therapeutic reasons—not just for enlightenment!  We also talk pleasure in telling you about an important study, recently published in the Journal for Depression and Anxiety, that compares yoga individual yoga sessions (rather than group classes) with treatment as usual for anxiety and depression.

I hope to see you at one of the LifeForce Yoga workshops or trainings this spring!

Review: Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body, by Mindy Eisenberg, MHSA, E-RYT-500

Adaptive Yoga Move Any BodyI wish I could take an adaptive yoga class from Mindy Eisenberg, but since she lives in southeastern Michigan and I live in north Texas, I can’t make it to her classes.  However, I have the next best thing, a copy of her new book: Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body, which was created for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and neuromuscular conditions.

Eisenberg’s heartening voice resonates from the first words on the acknowledgements page of this book – a hefty volume that artfully weaves description and demonstration with encouragement and empathy.

Her journey toward adaptive yoga began when Eisenberg was a young girl, watching her mother live with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis that confined her to a wheelchair for more than 25 years. After completing her first teacher training in 2004, Eisenberg volunteered at the Michigan Institute for Neurological Disorders, a prominent neurological center in her area, as a yoga instructor for students with MS.  Today she provides small group adaptive yoga therapy classes for over 70 students with MS per week, and her book – five years in the making – blossomed from that.

“Why did I write this book?” she asks. “Very simply, my Yoga Moves students asked me to write a guide for them. They needed a way to remember the poses and techniques and asked me for a few photos with accompanying instructions.”

This book more than delivers. It contains more than 500 clear, helpful photos of Eisenberg and her students practicing 71 traditional yoga poses (from physically challenging to deeply restorative) with many adaptations. The book is systematically laid out, beginning with an introduction to the philosophy of adaptive yoga practice, then progressing to the fundamentals of breath practice and alignment, proper warm-up, adaptive poses and the use of mudras.

The final chapter of Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body weaves everything together with an assortment of sequences. One of my favorites is, “In the Kitchen Sequence Waiting for the Rice to Cook,” which ends with the final step: “Enjoy the yummy rice!” Eisenberg’s sense of humor and playfulness are laced throughout this richly researched and well-organized book. Her philosophy is summed up by her words, “The most important yoga pose is your smile, and the most important words in your practice are, ‘Yes, I can!’”

Compassionate self-awareness, the hallmark of LifeForce Yoga®, is fundamental to Eisenberg’s work. “Help defray any anger or resentment you might feel that your body has betrayed you by referring to your body parts as ‘co-workers,’” she writes. “The intricate parts are working together, doing the best they can. You are nurturing yourself through your practice, not competing against your body’s limitations. The advanced yogi is not the one who can put their foot behind their head,” she concludes. “It is the one who knows when to take a break.”

(Four videos that complement the book will be posted on Eisenberg’s website,, in June 2016. Additional videos will be posted throughout the year.)

Dana Mildebrath, LFYP-2, RYT-200, and Certified Laughter Yoga Leader has been teaching gentle and adaptive yoga since 2008. As the survivor of a rare neuromuscular disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, she says, “Adaptive yoga is the name of the game for me!”

Order a copy of Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body

Research: Validation for Individualized Yoga as Adjunct Treatment for Depression & Anxiety

modern-yogaThis randomized controlled trial published in the prestigious Journal of Depression and Anxiety marks a significant contribution to the literature on the benefits of yoga practice on depression, anxiety and improving well-being. What is important here is that Michael de Manincor and his colleagues in New South Wales, Australia, chose to offer four individualized private yoga sessions over a six week period to help study participants design a home practice with which they felt comfortable. Most prior research on yoga practice has measured outcomes of those who participate in group classes with a control group who do something else, like meet to discuss good mental health practices, or are assigned special readings, or are wait-listed for the primary intervention.  The control group in this study was wait-listed, and then received the intervention, after the measurements on the first group were complete.  With just four sessions of yoga with a qualified teacher trained in viniyoga, home practice compliance was high. Of the 53 participants who received the intervention, only 5 dropped out, which is the same number who left the 54 member control group.

The yoga instruction was tailored to each participant’s physical and emotional needs and based on the principles of viniyoga. According to de Manincor, the study’s principal author, “Teachers were from a variety of different backgrounds in yoga.” They taught their students in accordance with the principle of viniyoga,  which de Manincor describes as “a universal principle for all yoga – teaching or adapting according to the needs, abilities, goals and circumstances of each individual or group.” Participants averaged 4.8 days of practice per week with an average of 29 minutes per session.  During the six-week follow-up period after the first six weeks of individualized instruction and home practice was complete, participants continued their home practices.  The published study explains the components of yoga practice in more detail.  However it is fair to say that the main focus of the protocol for most individuals included repeated breath-focused gentle yet dynamic movements in postures rather than long holding of poses.  The yoga protocol for many people also included relaxation, relaxed abdominal breathing, a lengthened exhalation, more forward bends then backbends, meditation with a particular focus like sound repetition, rather that emptiness and the formulation of a personal intention. The participants were recruited from five cities and were representative of varying geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. What they had in common was a score of at least mild, moderate or severe depression or anxiety and their medication and mental health treatment was unchanged for three months. Both the yoga group and the control group continued their mental health treatment as usual.

Participants were measured for depression, anxiety and general well-being at the commencement of the study (baseline), at the conclusion of the intervention, and at a six week follow-up. When the yoga group’s scores were compared to the wait list group,  There were statistically significant improvements in depression scores in the yoga group as compared to controls. The yoga group had general improvements in mental health and resilience scores, as compared to controls, and all improvements held at the six week follow-up.

As yoga is applied therapeutically and often individually, it is vital to have this kind of important validation for individually applied treatment.

Read the Full Article

Free Practice: Sunrise Practice at Coogee Beach in New South Wales, Australia

A free video practice with Amy Weintraub during her recent visit to Australia where she led the first LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training  – Module A in Australia, and also attended the Australian Yoga Therapy Conference.


News: Professional (CEC) and Personal Development with LifeForce Yoga

We are very excited to announce the following CEU credit for our July programs:

July 1-3, 2016, LifeForce Yoga for Depression and Anxiety: I Am Bliss and So Are You

This two day program is open to all and has been awarded 12 hours of nursing credits, 11.5 hours of social work credits, and 12 Yoga Alliance contact hour credits.

July 3-8, 2016, Yoga for Mood Management: LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training-Module A

This five-day program is open to all and has been awarded 33 hours of social work credits, 33 Yoga Alliance contact hour credits, 33.5 hours of nursing continuing education credits, and 15 hours of psychology CE credits.

July 25-29, 2016, LifeForce Yoga Skills for Therapists

This five-day program is for mental and health care professionals.  No prior yoga experience or yoga mat necessary. CEC’s awarded – learn more!

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.

7 thoughts on “Research Newsletter Issue 69: Book Review on Adaptive Yoga, and New Validating Research on Yoga for Mood”

  1. Anne Edge says:

    Please let me know when you will be back in Virginia and offering any of these workshops.

    1. Amy Weintraub says:

      Hi, Ann! Thank you for your interest. Please take a look at the events calendar on the website. I’ll be leading a weekend at Yogaville in October, a training in the spring.

  2. Do you ever do workshops in no Cali. San Francisco, Berkeley etc??

    1. Amy Weintraub says:

      Hi Jeanne,

      Thank you for your email. We do not have anything scheduled in Northern California through the end of the year. We used to go to Mt. Madonna and really love teaching there. The closest scheduled training this year would be Encinitas, CA.

  3. Deirdre Fay says:

    Love the video with you chanting the Gayatri, Amy. Peaceful.

  4. Donna Berger says:

    Hi Amy , We Met Several Years ago When You Were @ Yogaview In Wilmette , Il .i loved Your Program . . I purchased A CD , which I loved Doing Often .. I lent To Someone … I don’t remember Who ?? Ha Ha ..
    Working With My Treatable Breast Cancer .. During my Treatments . Your program Is So soothing ..
    I would like To Buy That CD & others if you Have Them . Thank You Darlung Amy ?? Donna Berger

    1. Amy Weintraub says:

      Hello, Donna,
      Blessings and ease to you as you move through treatment. Here’s the link to CDs and DVDs. and Please scroll down, because I notice there are a number of short practices at the top.

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“Amy Weintraub’s work is some of the most important in our world today for helping humanity understand more deeply the significance of the mind-body connection. Her insights are inspirational for yoga teachers and all readers. Her in-depth understanding of her subject is an important basis for personal, as well as societal transformation.” — Rama Jyoti Vernon, Founder, American Yoga College, co-founder Yoga Journal
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“It is not just Amy’s yoga classes that have added richness to my life as both a yoga student and a yoga therapist, it is more importantly how she integrates and exudes yoga into her daily life that is inspirational for me.  While I have been the beneficiary of her thoughtful, well constructed and emotionally well tuned yoga classes, I have also received her wit and wisdom through informal, "off-the-mat" interaction as well.  In both cases, I have been able to tune into myself at a deeper level and feel more successful in my practice as a result of her care-full teaching and living.” — JJ (Jesse) Lee, owner, Body & Soul Fitness Training, Reno, Nevada
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“I had been on antidepressant medication for three years and had just been diagnosed with fibro myalgia when I began to work with Amy. She designed a sequence of postures and breathing exercises for me that I could practice at home. After four months, I was feeling much better, and after six months, I was able to stop antidepressants entirely. I still have low moods from time to time, but I know they will pass. Yoga has changed my life.” — C.L., 37, massage therapist, Sarasota, FL.
“Amy is a beautiful gift in my life! Her yoga offers a powerful blend of the practical and mystical. She has developed yogic solutions to many chronic health problems, and to many of the ways we habitually get stuck in our bodies and minds. Amy's yoga keeps me grounded and healthy, like the earth under my feet.” — Mary Driscoll, freelance writer and Ph.D., Southwest Institute for Research on Women, University of Arizona
“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
“Amy was just what I needed. Her values & thoughts & way of speaking stirred deep “hidden pockets” that need to be cleaned out. I’m glad I came. I know it will change my life.” — Sue Carlson, seamstress, Ayer, MA
“Amy is a wonderful instructor. She is a vital and vibrant person and she kept the program flowing. Her voice was very soothing and nurturing and she created an open, safe and sacred space.” — Mary Lou Tillinger, massage therapist/rural carrier, Plainfield, CT
“I gained tools for working with my own depression and with my clients’ depressions.” — Robert Sgona, LCSW, RYT, psychotherapist, Yoga teacher, Camden, ME.
“Amy Weintraub shows how to use yoga as a resource for psychological healing and personal growth. Her methods are grounded in ancient wisdom, informed by modern science, and eminently practical for reducing anxiety, lifting mood, and improving self-regulation. She is a master teacher, and her skills and heart are woven throughout this new classic for therapists, clients, and anyone interested in inner strength and peace.” — Rick Hanson, Ph.D. author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
“Heal yourself with Yoga For Depression. I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it.” — Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. Author of Meditation as Medicine
“As a ‘regular’ in Amy’s 7 AM Mon/Wed/Fri. yoga class, I felt a strong attachment to Amy and her Yoga practice.  I have been with her for 2 1/2 years and I am 82 years old.  A few months back I had the flu and missed two classes; she came to my house to check on me.  I could not believe she did this with her busy schedule.  This is a testimonial to her caring for the individual.  Amy is very special to me and keeps me going.” — D.W., retired nurse, Tucson, AZ
“I am indebted to Amy's Yoga instruction for teaching the part of me that had trouble letting go. My wife died almost two years ago, and I am now free of grief and other destructive thought-patterns. Since practicing Yoga with Amy, my meditation practice has gone to new dimensions.” — John deCoville, systems analyst, Tucson, AZ
“As a Yoga teacher, Amy Weintraub’s most outstanding quality is her kindness. I have seen her work often with very challenging students and always maintain her attitude of patience and compassion. She provides a safe and enriching class.” — Tom Beall, RYT 500, Yoga teacher, Tucson, AZ
“Suffering from depression and chronic fatigue syndrome, I've tried medications, supplements, and many forms of traditional and nontraditional therapies without beneficial effects. While taking yoga classes with Amy at Kripalu, I noticed a definite shift in my consciousness, a reduction in stress, and an improvement in my well-being. Amy's classes have helped me to love and appreciate myself. Amy is an outstanding yoga teacher and in dealing with the fatigue and depression I experience, participation in her classes has been a real gift to my yoga practice and me.” — E. M., teacher, Lenox, MA
“The pieces I wrote in Amy’s workshop are the best I’ve done. She brought out my confidence in myself and the best in my writing.” — Amy Wray, Iowa City, Iowa
“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
“Amy helped me find powerful personal images that fit perfectly into my short stories, and she helped me find a process to release my inner voice.” — Mark Heasley, Troy, Michigan
“I typically live in a state of future hope and past fear, both totally about stress. When I practice yoga, my life begins again. I look out of new eyes that are a lot more about life and self-esteem. Amy is the best yoga teacher I have had.” — Jaqui Gee, massage therapist, Tucson, AZ
“Amy is a treasure. Through her gentle and affirming teaching style, she helped me establish a yoga practice that has become a most satisfying and grounding aspect of my life. I was surprised by the depth of the experience and the enduring nature of the changes I enjoy through this practice.” — CA, journalist, videographer, Tucson, AZ
“Amy has a wonderful, powerful presence. Her energy radiated to the entire group. I feel better able to be who I am and to be compassionate toward myself in a new, loving, way.” — Suzanne Phelps-Weir, editor, Boston, MA
“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
“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
“As a musician living with multiple spinal deformities, I have participated in many yoga classes lead by Amy Weintraub. I see Amy’s classes as very fluid, well-structured arrangements of poses, breathing exercises and vocalizations. Amy manages to pace her sessions and her voice at just the right tempo as to add focus and confidence to the students’ efforts. The systematic progression of movements in Amy’s classes naturally engages the student to go further and further within, tapping into the wellspring of their potential.” — Léo Gosseli, musician, Prescott, AZ
“Words do not do justice to all that I learned. This workshop changed my life!” — Jen Nolan, Teacher, Cortland, NY
“My experience in Amy’s classes for the past four years has been uplifting and powerful. I have found that the techniques she shares are powerfully effective for dispelling the dark clouds of negativity and hopelessness. But more than that, Amy brings us the ability to easily access the inner world where healing and self-understanding reside.” — Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer, author, The Alchemy of the Desert and The Art and Technique of Using Flower Essences, Tucson, AZ
“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.
“In my private sessions with Amy, I learn, expand and heal, and I leave more vivid in every way. I rely on some of the exercises she teaches, throughout the day, to reenergize and rebalance.” — L.D., writer, Tucson, AZ
“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
“Amy’s gentle and caring presence blends beautifully with her skillful Yoga teaching talents.  I have enjoyed attending Amy’s unique class offerings for the past 4 years now.  As a practitioner and teacher of Yoga, I find that her style of teaching creates a safe place for me to deepen my own Yoga practice, free from the competitive "striving" attitudes found all too often in Yoga classes.  I have appreciated Amy’s strong focus on acceptance and presence and always leave her classes feeling happier, lighter and more centered in my true self.” — Janine Walter, Oriental Bodywork Therapist and Teacher, Tucson, AZ
“I’ve worked with Amy’s Yogic sets for the last two years and they have literally transformed my emotional state. Amy takes me, step-by-step, through postures and breathing exercises that straighten out my emotional tangles. Practicing Yoga has positively affected my whole world.” — S.S., retired computer engineer, Cambridge, MA
“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.
“Amy offers many guidelines and solutions through yoga, to both those who suffer from depression and to yoga teachers working with them.” — Angela Farmer, internationally known master Yoga teacher
“Amy’s teaching is enthusiastic and loving.  She guides me gently, harmoniously and confidently to a mindful state and encourages me to find my own strengths and edges.  With well-chosen language and carefully executed examples, she reminds me of my own inner healing knowledge.” — Penelope Simmons, artist, founder of Odyssey Storytelling, Tucson, AZ
“Research now validates what yoga adepts have claimed for thousands of years: Yoga practices profoundly affect our state of heart and mind! Drawing on her wisdom and notable expertise, Amy Weintraub guides us in bringing this ancient science of healing into clinical settings. Yoga Skills for Therapists is both practical and inspiring; it will allow you to offer the precious gifts of yoga to your clients and deepen the roots of your own practice as well.” — Tara Brach, Ph.D., author of Radical Acceptance (Bantam, 2003.)
“With a specific emphasis on managing mood, Amy’s book delivers dynamic insights and yoga-based practices that she has refined over decades of first-hand experience working with clients, students, and therapists, that relax, focus, and reduce the symptoms and causes of anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as prepare the mind and body for the integrative work of psychotherapy.” — Richard Miller, Ph.D., author, Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga, President, Integrative Restoration Institute.
“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
“Amy Weintraub's talent as a yoga instructor is surpassed only by her ability to inspire compassion and depth in each of her student's practice.” — LuAnn Haley, attorney, Tucson, AZ
“I gained perspective of who I am in the world and this will change my life significantly.” — Mary Ford, artist, Southport, CT
“A psychotherapist might spend many years studying yoga and still not achieve anything near this elegant, practical, powerful integration. The instruction — while emerging from a 4000-year-oldtradition some consider esoteric — is immediately useful for treating abroad range of mental health disorders, even for therapists with no other background in yoga. As a bonus, the book seamlessly weaves in indispensable related tools, such as imagery, self-suggestion, and mindfulness meditation. It is a fabulous resource.” — Donna Eden & David Feinstein, Ph.D., Co-authors, Energy Medicine and The Promise of Energy Psychology
“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 had the pleasure of experiencing several private yoga sessions with Amy Weintraub, which were for me the most profoundly healing yoga experiences I’ve had.  Amy has the gift of not only being very skillful in helping me feel supported and "held" in yoga postures physically, but, also, the ability to use words to bring me more deeply into my own inner experience. I found myself releasing emotions that had been held in my body for a long time.  After the sessions, I had the experience of being much more at home within myself and much more present to my own inner experience. This was particularly important for me since I am a body-centered therapist who specializes in helping people get in touch with emotions held in the unconscious. Amy’s work is very important in a world where so little attention is given to one’s own inner experience. I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to experience the power of yoga with Amy.” — L.F. 44, Rosen Method Bodyworker Practitioner, Florence, MA
“Weintraub has written…a sensitive, intelligent, painstaking exploration of the deeper psychospiritual issues that make up the complex experience of depression.” — Phil Catalfo, Yoga Journal
“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.
“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
“Amy is extensively trained in many schools of Yoga. This allows her to provide a wide variety of information from which the student can choose. Amy knows that what benefits a student is a unique ‘recipe.’ She is a loving and kind teacher. As a colleague, I love to attend her classes!” — K.H., Yoga Teacher, Tucson, AZ
“Amy’s 7 AM yoga class was a journey from darkness to light.  On each morning of practice the route is different.  She embodies the compassion that she writes about so well.” — JS, 48, biologist and writer, 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
“In this well-written and well-researched book Amy Weintraub provides therapists with simple, easy-to-apply but powerful, breathing, meditation, and hand gesture techniques that do not require a mat or body postures. Therapists can easily incorporate these techniques into their practices without otherwise having to change what they do, and clients can use them on their own. Thank you Amy for giving us access to this ancient healing wisdom.” — Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D., developer, Internal Family Systems Therapy, author, Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model
“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
“This is a book about integrating the mind and the body, about using movement to mend oneself; in a world obsessed with psychopharmacology, reading it was a refreshing reminder that, in some cases, the tools we have to cure depression reside not in a pill, but in our own bodies, if we are willing to try.” — Lauren Slater, author of Prozac Diary and Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir
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