My Journey with LifeForce Yoga by Linda Mackay, MSW

Amy Weintraub is the author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. I was first introduced to her work when my dear friend, who is a yoga teacher, invited me to join her on a two day introductory training with Amy. I was thrilled that this was something I could attend – I am not a yoga teacher but have had a personal yoga and meditation practice for over 20 years. I have trained in mindfulness based therapies and, yoga, has been my own medicine to help me manage stress, mood and pain related challenges over the years. I have had wonderful teachers and have sought out professional development for myself by attending yoga conferences’ trainings and a variety of workshops with teachers from around the world. These two days with Amy opened up subsequent opportunities for me in advanced training at the LifeForce Yoga Institute for Healing.

Amy’s work has given me a concrete set of principles and practices that I can integrate effectively with my clients, both in therapy sessions and in workshops. Many of my clients who are suffering from depression, anxiety or trauma are not ready to walk into a yoga class. The benefits of yoga at this stage are not accessible for them – their symptoms prevent them from getting there, from being able to feel safe or open to the practices. Lying down in a yoga class can be a very vulnerable position to be in. Many experienced and skilled yoga teachers will have had some training in trauma sensitive instruction, however many have not and are not aware of how a corrective touch on someone’s body might trigger fear or panic, or how many of the asana practices may not be meeting students where they are – which reinforces the personal belief that yoga is not for them.

The beauty of LifeForce Yoga is that it meets our clients energy: if they are anxious (Rajasic) or depressed (Tamasic) Amy has organized and created intentional pathways through asana (movement) pranayama (breathwork) mudra (hand gestures) and mantra (sound) so this energy is met, and with specific sequencing, brings the client to balance. Right there, in the office. No yoga mat or yoga studio required. It is powerful and most importantly, empowering for clients to be able to sense and experience their capacity to shift, change and transform how they feel right here, right now. When they are able to sense and experience calmness, or courage, or peace in their own bodies, they connect to their bodies, they grow confidence and have faith in their own body/mind and spirit, that what they need, what they long for and deserve, is right here for them.

I am trained in mindfulness based therapies and lead MBCT programs and weekly guided meditations. I have studied with amazing teachers and my own practice continues to deepen and grow and enriches my ability to support my clients. LifeForce Yoga has been a wonderful companion to these practices. Often the window of tolerance is limited when we begin to introduce mindfulness to clients with depression, anxiety and trauma. I have found LFY is a preparatory framework to give clients tools to explore the more subtle and internal work of meditation based practices. Yoga is an ancient medicine practice – all asana practices prepare the body for the deeper nature of meditation. LFY offers clients a safe, empowering way in, to explore, to learn, to reclaim and celebrate their capacity to heal and transform.

Mindfulness teaches us to BE with what is, in the present without judgement, and this is essential learning in the process of healing. LFY is transformational in its process, it helps us feel, sense, experience all that is here but with skills, understanding and support that allows many of our most vulnerable clients an infrastructure to help them through this journey.

For more information on LIfeForce Yoga training opportunities, research articles and recommended readings, check out the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute website:

LFY Level 2 practitioners, Linda Mackay (MSW) and colleague Ocean Lum (Reg. Clinical Counsellor, RYT-500) are leading a 5 day LifeForce Yoga for Depression and Anxiety retreat program June 24th– 29th at Hollyhock Retreat Centre on Cortes Island In BC. Join us. This retreat can be considered a pre-requisite for Level 1 LFY training – or be simply a restorative retreat to rejuvenate in the healing surroundings of nature.

LM_066-5 copyLinda Mackay, (MSW) is a level 2 LFY practitioner and is on the faculty and a mentor with the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute. She has a background in the performing arts and has been working at the University of Waterloo’s Counselling and Psychological Services for many years. She is co-owner of The Space Within in Stratford Ontario where she offers individual therapy, LFY workshops, mindfulness based programs and meditation classes.


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