LifeForce Yoga® for Depression Research & News
From Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT (500),
author, Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books)
Dear Friends, Colleagues & Students,
“The spiritual is a sense of union with the Ground of our Being, a precious sense of our connectedness. Spirituality is the glorious destination that the train of religion is bound for… When we mistake the train for the destination, we are liable to keep riding around in circles.”
–Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., , A Woman’s Journey to God
Message from Amy:
What I love about Yoga is that you don’t have to believe anything to feel yourself deeply and intimately connected to the Ground of Your Being, that vast ocean of healing energy that is eternally available to us all. Whether you call this energy Purusha or Jesus or Hashem or Allah or Prana or Chi or Self or No-Self, when you step onto your mat and begin a practice to clear the space, you invite this energy to awaken within and to pour through you from without–there is no separation.
Blessings and welcome to the 7th issue of LifeForce Yoga® for Depression News! In this issue, you’ll find a practice suggestion for accessing your own inner reservoir of peace, current research and news with a bit of commentary, reviews of a few tools—new books, CD’s, and DVD’s you may find useful in supporting your practice, and my current schedule of workshops and trainings.
In this Issue:
Schedule of Workshops & Trainings
PRACTICE: For Inner Peace
This is a simple practice that awakens your own inner peace. It combines a yogic breath retention (kumbhaka) with a visualization (bhavana) and a calming tone (mantra). We’ll use the mantra “shanti,” the Sanskrit word for peace. The word itself, with it’s “sh” sound and it’s “ah” sound, is soothing. Previous research has shown that long retention of the breath is calming to the sympathetic nervous system, so in this practice we’ll be holding the breath for a count of 16. If this count feels too long for you, listen to your body and release sooner than that.
Please sit in a comfortable position with your spine erect. To prepare for this practice, let’s do a contracting and releasing exercise first. Take a deep breath and tense the muscles in your face, your belly, and your buttocks. Make fists of your hands and draw your shoulders towards your ears. Hold the breath, squeezing the “to-do’s,” the judgments, the doubts—whatever is blocking the peaceful flow of energy through your system. Then let it go with a sigh. Do this several times, until you can breathe in a calm and relaxed way.
When you are breathing calmly and comfortably, bring into your mind an image or symbol for peace— maybe an image like a rose in full bloom or a still pond—whatever conjures peace in your mind. If an image doesn’t present itself, simply think the word “peace.”
When you have your image or your word, inhale for four counts, extending your arms in a circle in front of your heart. As you hold the breath for sixteen counts, imagine your image for peace cupped in your extended hands. If you wish, you may think the mantra “shanti.”
As you exhale for eight counts, say or chant “shanti” three times, drawing your image for peace into your heart by moving your hands to your heart, left hand crossed over the right.
Repeat the gesture, the breath retention, the visualization, and the mantra twelve times, and then sit for a few minutes. Is there any difference in this moment between the peace that surrounds you and the peace flowing through you?
Catching up with the Yogis: a “new” Grief Therapy
In June, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study (1) that compared “complicated grief therapy” with standard interpersonal grief therapy. The rate of positive response was more than twice as high for those receiving complicated grief therapy compared to the standard therapy.
What’s interesting about this finding, from a yogic point of view, is that the standard therapy “explores the patient’s relationship with the deceased person, emphasizing disputes, role transitions, and grief.” (2) On the other hand, “complicated grief therapy,” named for what it is meant to treat (3), involves a balanced procedure the study authors call a “dual process” in which patients concentrate alternately on adjusting to the loss and restoring a satisfying life.
This is a strategy that the ancient yogis understood. As Patanjali, the earliest codifier of yoga recommends in the Yoga Sutras: Where there are negative thoughts, substitute positive ones (vitarkah badhane pratipaksa bhavanam, II.33). What the study authors call a “dual process” that incorporates elements of cognitive therapy, is actually the essence of the “nondual” intervention used for all troubling emotions that psychologist, yogi, and author Richard Miller advocates, practices, and teaches, and which I learned from him and also use in LifeForce Yoga® Sessions and in the trainings I offer.
We strengthen the container, allowing more room for both grief and joy, when we practice yoga with an attitude of embracing it all, with awareness and without judgment. When we cultivate this kind of allowing, on the mat and off, by not only giving space to the painful, negative, unwholesome emotions we may feel, but also cultivating their opposites, we restore the balance of mind, necessary in recovering from grief and moving forward in our lives.
1 Shear K, et al. “Treatment of Complicated Grief: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of the American Medical Association (June 1, 2005) Vol. 293, No 21, pp. 2601-08.
2 “Treating complicated grief,” Harvard Mental Health Letter (February, 2006), p. 7.
3 Symptoms that are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—persistent disbelief about the death, anger and bitterness over the loss, guilty feelings about the deceased, and repeated waves of painful longing.
RX for Back Care
A study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and reported in the December issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed a significant decline in back pain and in the need for pain medication among those taking a weekly yoga class for three months. The study compared aerobic exercise to yoga. The control group read a book on back care. More than three months after the weekly yoga class ended, in a follow-up, only 21% of yoga participants reported taking pain medication in the past week, compared with half of patients in the exercise group and 59% of those who received the book.
Two Studies Demonstrate Efficacy of DHEA
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can be effective for midlife-onset minor and major depression, according to the results of a placebo-controlled, randomized trial published in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study involving 23 men and 23 women took place from Jan. 4, 1996, through Aug. 31, 2002, at the National Institute of Mental Health Midlife Outpatient Clinic. Another recent study conducted by Columbia University showed a significant mood elevation among patients who were HIV positive.
Although DHEA is available at most health food stores, caution is advised. DHEA is a powerful hormone that can affect the production of testosterone as well as estrogen. Taking it without a doctor’s supervision may result in a hormone imbalance. For more information about the benefits and precautions of taking DHEA, you can read an excellent article on the web site Women to Women http://www.womentowomen.com/adrenalf atigue/dhea.asp
Simpler VNS Stimulator Tested—Breathing Even Simpler
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have tested a device known as a Radio Frequency- powered Neural Stimulator (RFNS). Like the Vagus nerve Stimulator (VNS) device developed by Cybetronics and recently approved by the FDA, the RFNS stimulates the vagus nerve, which has been shown to treat both epilepsy and major depression. The RFNS requires less surgery than the original VNS and may have fewer side effects. It consists of a receiver implanted under the skin and a separate power supply placed near the skin in the neck area.
Before considering any kind of surgery, experiment with stimulating the vagus nerve naturally through the practice of yogic breathing. Sudharshan Kriya, Kapalabhati and other kriya breathing practices seem to have this stimulating effect, and studies have shown that Sudharshan Kriya is an effective treatment for depression.
For more information about yogic breathing and mood, read chapter six in Yoga for Depression or attend a LifeForce Yoga® Healing Retreat and Training workshops. htm.
For information about Sudharshan Kriya, read Chapter Seven in Yoga for Depression or visit the Art of Living web site. www.artofliving.org .
For current research summaries, including a pilot study not yet published that shows improvement in psychosocial measurements among cancer survivors, visit the International Association of Yoga Therapy website. www.iayt.org
Living Well With Depression and Bipolar Disorder
I’ve just read John McManamy’s soon to be released LIVING WELL WITH DEPRESSION AND BIPOLAR DISORDER in manuscript. Look for this book in the fall. It’s a necessary read for those of us who have suffered. The book is one of the most comprehensive and readable guides to the many forms of depression and bipolar disorder and their treatment that I’ve read. (See RESOURCES below for information on John’s newsletter.)
UPCOMING CALENDAR HIGHLIGHTS
I’ll be talking with Claire Papin, radio host of “It’s All Good,” on Serius Satellite Radio, Saturday, March 11, 8:00 – 9:00 am EST & 8:00 – 9:00 pm EST, and on Sunday, March 12th at 6:00 a.m. on channel 114 . You can listen to a live stream of the broadcast at ht tp://lime.com/more/Radio_Play/index.html.
INTERNATIONAL YOGA THERAPY CONFERENCE
Bay Conference Center
Tiburon, Marin County, California.
I’ll be teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area in May (5/12 & 13) at ‘Yoga for Health, the International Yoga Therapy Conference’, that Antonio Sausys, a yoga therapist from Uruguay is organizing.
This is how Antonio describes what we will be doing: The conference is a three-day opportunity to get in touch with some of the most important voices of Yoga Therapy as they convene, for the first time in the United States, to share their knowledge of the healing potential of yoga. These experts will show you how to improve your health with yoga – from relieving everyday discomforts and ailments like common colds, carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain, to treating chronic illnesses like AIDS and Cancer and emotional conditions such as Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For more information, please visit the web site at http ://www.yogatherapyconference.com/
MOUNT MADONNA CENTER
I’ll also be teaching in California again, June 2 – 6th, at the Mount Madonna Center. Please visit their site for a full description of the program. http://www.mountmadonna.org/live/WEI-6- 2.html
PSYCHOTHERAPY NETWORKER SYMPOSIUM
March 16th – 19th, Washington, D.C.
I look forward to seeing many old friends at this juicy conference! Once again, I’ll be the LifeForce Facilitator, teaching yoga and meditation throughout the conference and leading a pre-conference workshop. http://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/l ife-force-yoga.html
March 11 & 12, 2006
Sat: 8:00-9:00AM EST 8:00 – 9:00 PM EST Sun: 6:00 – 7:00AM EST It’s All Good – Radio with Claire Papin; Serius Satellite Radio channel 114—Or listen to the show’s live stream on the web http://lime.com/more/Radio_Play/index.html</ title=http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=e9dj8sbab.0.6vwwqtbab.j9cnhzaab.1442&p=http%3A%2F%2Flime.com%2Fmore%2FRadio_Play%2Findex.html font>
March 16 – 20th, 2006 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.
March 19th, 2006 1:30 – 5:30 PM LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, Spiral FLIGHT, 1826 Wisconsin Avenue, NW 202.965.1645, www.spiralflightyoga.co m
April 7 – 9th, 2006 LifeFor ce Yoga morning session, Triangle of Empowerment Conference, www.thein nerconnection.org 520 322- 7689.
April 28, 2006 7:30–9:30PM LifeForce Yoga® for Depression and Anxiety—Intro, Yoga on High, 1081 North High St., www.yogaonhigh.com< /font>, 614 291-4444.
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., www.yogaonhigh.com< /font>, 614 291-4444.
San Francisco Bay Area
May 12 – 14th, 2006 Y oga for Health – International Yoga Therapy Conference, Bay Conference Center, Tiburon, Lecture: Patanjali’s Prescription for Positive Mental Health, Workshop: LifeForce Yoga® for Depression & Anxiety Marin County, California. http ://www.yogatherapyconference.com/
May 21 – 26, 2006 LifeForce Healing & Retreat Training, The Crossings, 877 944-3003 CEU’s available
June 2 – 4th, 2006.
June 2 – 6th, 2006 LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues! Mount Madonna Center
(408) 847-0406 http://www.mountmadonna.org/live/WEI- 6-2.html
July 2 – 7, 2006 LifeForce Yoga® Training for Depression & Anxiety, Kripalu Center, 800-741- 7353
July 7 — 9th, 2006 Breathe to Beat the Blues, Omega Institute, 800-944- 1001
July 10 — 14th, 2006 LifeForce Yoga® to Beat the Blues, Omega Institute, 800-944- 1001
September 8–10, 2006 Breathe to Beat the Blues, Kripalu Center, 800-741- 7353
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
San Francisco, CA
October 19th – 22nd, 2006
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium West – Amy will lead a Pre-Conference Day-Long Workshop, Morning Yoga & Afternoon Integration practice. www.psychotherapynetworker.org
November 3-5, 2006 Yoga to Beat the Blues, The Crossings,</ u> 877-944-3003
January 6 – 11th, 2007 LifeForce Yoga® Healing Intensive (CE credits available) in Tucson. Cclick here to go to the brochure
Info: Rose Kress – 520 349- 2644.
Los Angeles, CA
January 12 – 21st, 2007 IAYT International Yoga Therapy Symposium, LAX Hilton, www.iayt.org
Two Mindful Eating CD’s by Jean Fain, Reviewed by Rose Kress, RYT
Eat to Live & Lose Weight – A Hypnosis CD
In her introduction, Jean Fain discusses the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet, including those carbs that we are all trying to avoid, and eating smaller amounts more often. It’s refreshing to hear her speak of a return to the balanced diet approach rather than denying ourselves food. The hypnosis section of the CD begins with what we yoga practitioners would consider a soothing and well-led shavasana. Relaxing at deeper and deeper levels, I floated off to a wonderfully restful and safe place, with neither thoughts nor expectations. I opened my eyes to the sensation of feeling completely energized. I got up, passed the chocolate bar over for the healthier banana, and was out the door for a quick walk.
Mindful Eating CD
On this CD, Jean Fain begins with a short discussion of the techniques of mindfulness meditation. The techniques utilized are rooted in the Mindfulness Meditation techniques developed by John Kabat-Zinn and in lessons on food intake regulation by Jean Coustaleur. In the second section of the CD, Jean leads a breath awareness exercise that I found calming. Section three is a loving body scan. Jean guides us to remain aware and mindful, reminding us to be non-judgmental about our body and what we are experiencing. After practicing with this CD, I felt calm, relaxed, and ready to deal with my “to-dos” in an easy manner.
Both CD’s have been added to my own weight loss program. You might consider putting them on the top of your list of tools for successful weight loss by visiting www.jeanfain.com.
—-Rose Kress, RYT, President, Arizona Yoga Association
30 Essential Yoga Poses, by Judith Lasater; reviewed by Rose Kress, RYT
30 Essential Yoga Poses: for Beginning Students and Their Teachers (Rodmell Press) is one essential yoga book! Whether you are just starting out on your yoga journey or have been teaching for years, this book should be on your bookshelf. Judith begins with a short discussion of yoga philosophy, leaving the very intense and sometimes inaccessible philosophic discourse to those who take a more scholarly approach. She focuses her attention on what you need to know about yoga, whether you are a student or a teacher, in a way that is refreshing and easy to comprehend.
Part II discusses the student–teacher relationship, including choosing your teacher, the ethics involved in the relationship, and transitioning from being a student to a teacher.
In the posture section, each pose has a picture, its name in English and Sanskrit, where it should be practiced in relation to other poses, cautions, props that might be useful, step by step instructions, and ways you might wish to explore the pose more deeply. Judith adds a section for variations of the pose with accompanying pictures. Each pose includes information for teachers that explains the primary focus of the posture and the basic adjustment a student may need while holding the pose.
The section devoted to sequencing poses, includes practice suggestions to meet your intention, whether it be to increase energy or foster relaxation. There are even sequence suggestions for busy days when you don’t have time to complete a full practice.
The glossary includes definitions of anatomical terms that are most often used in yoga class.
For more information on Judith and her work, please visit her web site, www.judithlasa ter.com
Joyful Yoga Practice CD
Who needs a variety of camera angles and editing techniques, when you have two experienced yogins practicing a synchronized flow of poses on a beautiful beach at sunset with seabirds drifting through the frame? Tess and Jackie Chiodo, a mother and daughter team of yoga teachers, have produced a simple, flowing one-hour practice, without long holds, that builds physical energy and calms the mind. Tess demonstrates the practice at a beginning level, modifying warm-ups and postures, while daughter Jackie demonstrates an intermediate execution of the poses.
The flow starts in a supine position with basic Yogic Three-part breathing, and the viewer is guided to set an intention for her practice. Jackie, who narrates the voice-over for the yoga session, suggests that you pay attention to the sensations in your body and your breath throughout the practice. The warm-ups begin with some quick repetitions of good back-care basics and hip openers like wind relieving pose (pavana muktasana), gentle twists, and leg stretches. The team guides you to a seated position for neck and shoulder stretches, and then takes time in table position for spinal flexions.
The standing poses begin with an invigorating series of sun salutations. Moderately challenging postures follow, but they are not held long. While the instructions are clear, there aren’t a lot of alignment details here, so beginners should work with a qualified yoga teacher to learn the poses before jumping into this practice.
The practice is well-sequenced, moving from standing to floor poses that include pigeon, gentle back-bending, forward bending and a twist. The practice concludes with a short guided relaxation in corpse pose, followed by a few moments of meditation. Original Native flute music by Byron Rodriguez adds to the relaxing effect of this practice.
For beginning and intermediate students who have a basic understanding of the postures, this is a simple, accessible sequence of poses that guides your attention to breath and body sensations. Following Tess and Jackie through this hour-long practice will restore your energy and calm your mind. www.joyfulyoga.c om
Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming, and Awakening by Rubin Naiman, Ph.D.
Psychologist Rubin Naiman takes an integrative spiritual approach to dealing with sleep and awakening. Not surprising, since he is a sleep and dream medicine specialist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona’s Program in Integrative Medicine, directed by Andrew Weil. Healing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming, and Awakening is is a lyrical book, written with humor, passion and poetry. In some ways it’s a dream-like reverie on sleep. Take for example the way in which he introduces us to the notion that since Edison invented the light bulb (and he describes Edison as an anxiety-ridden insomniac) we have been overdosed on artificial light. “We mitigate our fear of darkness through the excessive use of evening light, effectively extending daytime’s custody over us deep into the night and seriously eroding our night consciousness….Like a frightened child, the planet sleeps with its lights on.”
Given that those who suffer from insomnia for a year have an 80% chance of developing depression, this is an important book for people who struggle to get a good night’s sleep that includes a good night’s dreaming, as well as for the medical, mental health, and yoga professionals who work with them.
Many of us wake up in the middle of the night, and immediately worry that we won’t get back to sleep, and that worry can keep the wheels churning. But Naiman tells us to relax because waking up in the middle of the night is normal. He cites research that indicates that when we sleep with the rhythm of natural light, going to bed soon after dark and rising at dawn, as did our forbearers, we have a natural four-hour cycle, staying awake for as long as an hour before drifting off again.
Along with the lyricism come solid research and numerous life style suggestions and healing practices to help us sleep peacefully, dream lucidly, and awaken refreshed.
McMan’s Depression and Bipolar Weekly
In his excellent on-line newsletter, editor/writer John McManamy reports on current research, particularly related to pharmaceuticals. However, he also keeps readers in the know about complementary treatments, new books and other resources. John is working on a book about bipolar disorder. You can subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Subscribe” in the heading and your email address in the body. www.mcmanweb. com
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. www.iayt.org
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