What is LifeForce Yoga? How is a LifeForce Yoga class different from other yoga classes? I’d like to offer some reflections on these questions as I prepare to teach a weekly drop-in class at Laughing River Yoga this summer entitled “LifeForce Yoga to Balance Your Mood.”
LifeForce Yoga was developed by Amy Weintraub, a yoga teacher who had struggled her entire life with severe depression and anxiety. Through years of study and practice, she culled from the vast and ancient compendium of yoga practices those techniques that most facilitated easing her suffering and balancing her mood. The protocol she developed is supported by a growing body of contemporary neuroscientific research. The practices of LifeForce Yoga follow several guiding principles:
- Balancing prana, or life force energy. When we are depressed, our prana becomes sluggish and stagnant, referred to in Sanskrit as “tamas.” When we are anxious, our prana is restless and agitated, called “rajas.” In LifeForce Yoga, we meet our current mood and use appropriate practices to uplift tamasic energy and/or calm rajasic energy, leading to a state of “sattva” or balance.
- Realizing our underlying wholeness. According to yogic philosophy, our true nature is whole – radiant, joyful, peaceful, and untouched by our moods, conditioned stories, negative beliefs, or traumatic life experiences. LFY practices encourage us to release our limiting narratives, and to reconnect to the deepest truth of who we are.
- Practicing within a safe container of compassionate self-awareness. Increasingly, research is validating the ancient wisdom that mindful self-compassion is one of the most powerful healing energies. This principle is woven into all aspects of LifeForce Yoga.
What to expect when you come to a LifeForce Class?
Many of the practices will be familiar to the average yogi, with a few notable differences. We start with setting a heartfelt intention, or Sankalpa, to create a safe container and guide our practice. We make use of breathing practices (pranayama) and gentle postures (asana) to release blockages to the flow of prana. We take advantage of the power of vibration (nada yoga) to affect the energy of our entire system. Integrating chanting with breath and movement may initially seem different from what you are used to, but remember what it feels like to chant “OM” at the end of a yoga class. Have you experienced the resonant vibration flowing through you? Studies have shown that chanting OM calms the nervous system and reduced depression. In LifeForce Yoga we use a variety of mantras and tones in conjunction with breath and posture to soothe or energize the nervous system, to activate the energy of the chakras, and to bring the healing effects of the practice deeper into our being. We further enhance the effects of our practice with visualizations (bhavana), mudras (hand postures) and meditations, such as yoga nidra, a powerful guided practice that has been shown to mitigate the effects of trauma.
My hope is that by the end of a LifeForce yoga class you will feel calm, energized, and balanced. I also aspire to teach you tools and resources that you can integrate into your daily life, not just on the yoga mat. You can find many useful resources (articles, web links, video clips, etc.) on Amy’s website, www.yogafordepression.com.
I look forward to seeing you in my class this summer, Tuesdays from 7:30 to 8:45. OM Shanti. Namaste.
Miv London, PhD