Amy Weintraub is a yogini based in Tucson, Arizona. She’s the founder of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute and the author of several books including, Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management and Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieving Suffering Through Yoga. In this episode of Businesses in Bloom, Amy discusses how she became a yoga instructor, and from there, a trainer and educator around yoga’s benefits to the mind and body, specifically using yoga as a way to help with depression.
[2:02] Amy talks about how she began teaching and connecting yoga with mental health. She experienced depression, and was on antidepressants and in therapy for years. Yoga practice was able to replace antidepressants in Amy’s life. She became passionate about practicing yoga for sound mental and physical health. In 1999 she wrote an article called “Yoga, the Natural Prozac” in Yoga Journal, then became a yoga teacher. Teaching engagements and books followed.
[5:17] Amy’s book was pretty much the first book in the West that tied yoga with mental wellness. She started yoga and TIEM meditation for her overall health, not specifically to treat depression. She began Kripalu practice in 1989, and started feeling better. After 8 or 9 months she felt really good.
[7:10] Amy explains what Kripalu yoga entails—breathing and asanas (postures). In the late 80s, Kripalu was one of the few yogic practices available in the West that incorporated breathing, meditation, sleeping, and whole-life care.
[8:18] Here Amy explains the physiological benefits of Kripalu, and how mental health professionals can teach some of its practices to their clients in an office, without a yoga mat.
[9:58] Amy talks about her current work. She writes, and she trains mental health and yoga professionals on the safe use of yoga practices in clinical settings. She holds workshops in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. She also hosts retreats and workshops for regular folks.
[11:50] Amy has been a yoga teacher since 1992, and she started training people in 2004.
[12:50] Amy explains toning, the use of sound in yoga practice, and how it stimulates nerves to quiet hyper aroused states. Mantra chanting is toning, and it’s not religious—these are universal sounds from Sanskrit, the basis of English and many other languages. The slow exhalation in toning and yogic breathing activates the parasympatethic nervous system, calming it down.
[15:00] Mudras, the hand gestures in yoga practice, along with mantras (in the kundalini school of yoga), are very effective in working with mood disorders.
[18:00] Amy explains how image-cues prepare a clear space for yoga practice, and enhances the therapeutic relationship. She talks about the movements she introduces into a training session. Sometimes she brings in asanas for teaching purposes, and other times to release stress in a session.
[19:55] Amy speaks to how she built her business. She started out as a yoga instructor. She found her niche, and followed it. After being challenged by a colleague, she started to document her trainings and tweak her teaching manual. She listened to her clients and students, and accommodated their concerns in her curriculum.
[24:45] Amy talks about how she spread word of her new business: flyers and word of mouth, at first. In her own Arizona community she offered workshops, then she started teaching at Kripalu Institute. She used Kripalu’s catalogue to advertise her business, and gradually expanded marketing through technology. She started a yoga newsletter in 2004, and still contributes to it.
[28:48] Amy talks about the changes in media marketing throughout her career. She was the first person writing and publishing, but now she’s one of many.
[30:45] A lack of staffing infrastructure hindered Amy at times. She had to stay on top of her business, even when she had help
[33:15] Amy talks about her workshops. Some have 50 people or more, others have 30-40. The residential training classes are smaller and retreat-style.
[35:00] Amy discusses her teaching schedule on the road and at home. She averages five or six days of teaching a month, all day long.
[36:22] Amy works 40 hours a week when she’s not teaching. She writes and does admin work with this time.
[39:09] Amy explains how she has sold the LifeForce Yoga training part of her business, the certification for mental health care professionals. She still teaches in the program, but on a per diem basis.
[41:41] Amy’s business advice: find your niche. If possible, find it from your own experience or personal history. Write articles for local publications, build a platform. Be willing to take an educated risk. And don’t be afraid to ask the universe for what you need.
Bio – Amy Weintraub, Tucson Arizona
Amy Weintraub, MFA, e-RYT 500, C-IAYT, YACEP, is the founder of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute and has been a pioneer in the field of yoga and mental health for over 20 years.
She is the author of Yoga for Depression (Broadway Books) and Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management (W.W. Norton) and numerous articles and book chapters.
Amy is involved in ongoing research on the impact of Yoga on mood. Her evidence-based Yoga protocol for managing mood is used in health care settings globally and is featured on a number of audio-visual products, including the LifeForce Yoga series, an award-winning library of evidence-based yoga and meditation CDs and DVDs for mood management. http://yogafordepression.com/
She maintains an archive of news and research on her web site, www.yogafordepression.com. In addition to her Kripalu Hatha Yoga studies in the US and India, Amy has been trained in Advaita Vedanta Nondualism with Nitya Chaitanya Yati head of the Narayana Gurukulam, iRest Yoga Nidra with Richard Miller, and Internal Family Systems Therapy with Dr. Richard Schwartz. http://yogafordepression.com/
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