By Linda Mackay and Ocean Lum.
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. 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.