Refresh, Renewed, Excited

Yoga weekend focuses on mood improvement, by Susan Van Dongen

When Amy Weintraub, director of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute and author of the bestselling Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books, 2004) took her first course in teaching yoga, she had no intention of becoming a teacher herself, let alone one of the pioneers in merging the practice of yoga with treatment for mental and emotional illness.

”I only wanted to deepen my own practice,” Ms. Weintraub says. “But then I got hot to teach and wanted to share what had changed my life. It’s been a completely organic experience. My first article (on utilizing yoga to combat depression) was published in 1999, then in 2004 ‘Yoga For Depression’ was published and it’s been one thing after another. I’ve never had a five-year plan, I’m just responding to the call, to the need, from a place of passion.”

Ms. Weintraub, who also has authored the ground-breaking book Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management (W.W. Norton, 2012), will be returning to the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health to lead the workshop Mood Management: Be More Than Your Mood with Yoga, Sept. 21-Sept. 23. Participants can choose to take part in the weekend-long event, or just come Friday evening (Sept. 21) for an introduction. This workshop is suitable for multilevel practitioners, no experience is necessary.

At the PCYH workshop, participants will learn strategies that can help alleviate both depression and anxiety, and methods to safely release chronically held tension and repressed emotion in the physical and emotional body.

Ms. Weintraub will guide participants through a menu of yoga practices to break through mood issues and disorders, “. . . whatever blocks you from remembering who you truly are,” she says, asserting that beneath our aches, pains and shifting moods, we are bliss.

Speaking from her summer base near the coast of Rhode Island, Ms. Weintraub reflects that her teachings still address depression, but she is shifting more of her work to focus on anxiety, which she believes is being ramped up by everything from a gloomy economy to climate change.

”Everyone feels moments of anxiety, being overwhelmed with what’s going on in the world, or their own lives,” she says. “We all have a low level of anxiety, in fact, it’s a default mechanism (for humans), we’re born with it, we need it to survive in the wild. But more and more, I see a lot of people coming (to yoga workshops) with anxiety-based depression.”

”We still do energizing practices, but I like to emphasize soothing, calming practices since there’s so much anxiety,” Ms. Weintraub explains. “We’re also working more with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder – people with PTSD need a lot of soothing practices.”

For thousands of years, yogis have understood what current research in neurobiology and clinical observations are demonstrating, that emotion, particularly traumatizing emotion, is stored in the physical body. Yoga has been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety-based mood disorders, such as PTSD, as well as depression.

Ms. Weintraub’s LifeForce Yoga interweaves the power of an ancient discipline with current scientific findings. Neurobiologists are now saying that our reactions to life are patterned by our earliest, preverbal experiences. The forgotten emotion that accompanied those experiences can be stored in our bodies for years.

”It’s no surprise that in our earliest years, our preverbal stage, we establish neuronal patterns by our relationships with caregivers,” she says. “We learn how to love, who to love, even whether we can love or not. It’s all preprogrammed, and a lot of that is not only in the brain patterns, but in the constrictive patterns in the body.”

”Take fear, for example,” Ms. Weintraub adds. “With fear, we might constrict, our bellies can tighten. We forget about it intellectually, but it’s (established unconsciously) in the muscular structure of the body. Yoga can address these physical constrictions. Sometimes on the yoga mat, you’ll have someone breaking into tears, and that’s about letting go. When you’re touched deeply, tears arrive and you clear the space a little, creating a window into the present moment.”

Ms. Weintraub was once an award-winning television producer, suffering from a depression so severe she was cognitively impaired. ”I couldn’t put two shoes in a shoe box or fold a folding chair,” she says. That changed in 1989 when she began a daily yoga practice. Within nine months she was able to withdraw from antidepressant medication that her psychiatrist had said she would likely need for the rest of her life. Since becoming a yoga teacher in 1992, Ms. Weintraub has been passionate about sharing the techniques that helped her recover with others, both through her teaching and her writing.

She now trains health and yoga professionals at notable national and international venues and offers workshops for every day practitioners. The LifeForce Yoga protocol is being used in residential treatment centers, hospitals and by health care providers around the world. In addition, Ms. Weintraub is involved in ongoing research on the effects of yoga on mood, and has produced an award-winning library of evidence-based yoga and meditation CDs and DVDs for mood management. She edits a newsletter that includes current research, news and media reviews on yoga and mental health.

”I believe workshop participants will leave feeling refreshed, renewed, and excited about their home practice with new tools to work with their mood,” she says. “In addition, psychotherapists and yoga teachers will learn techniques they can use to help their clients focus, relax, and have greater access to their feelings.”

”We’re creating a space for the larger awakening of all that is arriving,” Ms. Weintraub adds. “When you’re less constricted, you’re less apt to act in old programmed or patterned ways. You can see the old ‘blue prints,’ and you’re becoming more self aware. We’re changing your biochemistry and neuronal patternings, evolving emotionally, physically, mentally, and psychically.”

Yoga for Mood Management; Be More than Your Mood With Yoga, weekend seminar led by Amy Weintraub, at the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health, 88 Orchard Rd., Suite 6, Skillman, Sept. 21- Sept. 23; Fri. Sept. 21, 7-9 p.m.; Sat. Sept. 22, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon. $295. Introduction only, Sept. 21, 7-9 p.m., $45. PCYH members, employees and LifeForce Yoga Practitioners receive a 10 percent discount for any or all programs. The introduction is included in the price of the weekend. Ms. Weintraub’s books, CDs and DVDs will be available at the workshop. 609-924-7294.

View original article here:

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