Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Amy Weintraub, is the founding director of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, the author of
<http://yogafordepression.com/books/yoga-for-depression/> Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books, 2004) and
<http://yogafordepression.com/books/yoga-skills-for-therapists/> Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management (W.W. Norton, 2012).
Amy has been a pioneer in the field of yoga and mental health for over twenty years. She offers the
<http://yogafordepression.com/practitioner-training/> LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training for Depression and Anxiety to health and yoga professionals 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. Amy leads workshops and professional trainings at academic and psychology conferences internationally at such venues as the Boston University Graduate
School of Psychology, the University of Arizona Medical School, the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, the Integrative Mental Health Conference, the Cape Cod Institute, Kripalu Center, Omega Institute, Sivananda Ashram, Yogaville, Esalen, Patanjali University in Haridwar, India and Yoga studios
throughout the United States.
Amy's recovery from depression began more than thirty years ago on her meditation cushion, but it wasn't until she began a daily Hatha Yoga practice in 1988 that her mood stabilized. I recently heard Amy speaking and her focus for the talk was about the relationship between working with our hands and depression. She was suggesting that there are
more nerve endings in the fingers than most other body parts and that the fingers are connected to the brain. In fact there's a neuroscientist, Kelly Lambert, who talks about one of the reasons she believes that we're in a place of so much depression, (and there are many other reasons too of
course) but one of the reasons is because we don't use our hands as much as we used to. She suggests that we're genetically programmed to use our hands for plowing, sewing, gardening, cooking, churning butter, tilling the fields, knitting, ,making pots etc. I was at a workshop earlier this month called "Conscious Cooking" and it was being taught be a beautiful woman who travels around the world teaching people simple and easy ways to increase the nutritional value of their daily food. At one point she was massaging oil and salt into some kale and she too was talking about our relationship
to food and how we tend to use appliances to get things done quickly, when really it is therapeutic to work with the food in our hands. Perhaps it is just the act of slowing down that is so therapeutic.
If you have ever attended a yoga class and the teacher instructs you to place your hands into certain positions, those positions are called mudras and they are the yogi's way of connecting the hands to the brain in a class. There are dozens of
mudras, and each represents a certain quality, such as compassion, courage, or wisdom. It is believed that, by practicing mudra, you awaken the seeds of these states within you. So whether to go to a yoga class, or you dig your
hands into some soil it might just be helping lift your spirit. You never know till you try! There are always possibilities.