Yoga for Depression: An Interview with Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub is a prolific writer based in Tucson part-time. She has published several books including Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. Her evidence-based yoga protocol for managing mood is used in health care settings globally.

She is the founder of LifeForce Yoga, a practice of compassion that creates a big enough container to embrace and accept all the dualities of mood.

What is Yoga for Depression about?

Yoga for Depression looks at aspects of yoga, scientifically and experientially, that can be effective in helping us heal from depressed or anxious moods. The book has been an inspiration to many to begin a yoga practice. Countless times yoga teachers have told me that they were given my book during a dark time in their lives. It was the gift, they tell me, that began their recovery from depression.

First, they went to classes and the benefits were so profound that, like me, they wanted to share what had helped them to heal with others who also suffered. This was precisely my motivation for writing Yoga for Depression. It is gratifying to hear this same story told back to me, as happened just last week when I taught a module in Denver.

Who should read it?

Anyone who has experienced depression and wants a natural way to work their mood without side effects can benefit from this Yoga for Depression. The stories from practitioners are true and inspire even non-yoga practitioners to try it. The research is irrefutable.

Many health professionals find inspiration from this book, which is how the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training for Anxiety and Depression began. Kripalu asked me to develop a program for mental health practitioners to integrate clinically appropriate yoga practices, and for yoga teachers to feel comfortable and confident working with clinical populations. I am happy to say that the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner Training continues under the direction of Rose Kress. (I still teach in some of them!)

What was your reason for writing it?

After years of psychotherapy and medication, I better understood my own family of origin issues and was able to self-regulate. But I was tamped down; my affect was flat. There weren’t a lot of tears, but there wasn’t much laughter either. When I began a daily yoga practice, I was slowly, with supervision over many months, able to taper off medication.

I began to feel more—joy, pain, all of it. My mood stabilized and I was a much happier person. When I cried, it was for good reason. I could look down at myself crying and say, Amy, what a big heart you have that you can feel this. When I was depressed and on medication, I didn’t feel anything. I was numb.

I became passionate about working with researchers and writing about what had saved my life. That’s why I wrote the book, Yoga for Depression, and the many other articles and book chapters I have contributed, as well as Yoga Skills for Therapists, a manual of healing practices, that W.W. Norton asked me to write. It’s also why I continue to teach others the healing practices of yoga, many of which do not require a yoga mat.

What is one thing you hope people take away from reading your book?

That they have the power to heal, by taking a few minutes every day to clear a little window through whatever mood is visiting with a simple practice.

Do you have plans for another book?

A new book, Yoga for Mental Health Conditions was just released in the UK by Hand Spring Press and will soon be available in the US. I wrote the chapter on depression with Holger Cramer, a colleague in Germany who is a prolific research scientist. It is designed to be a reference book for yoga and health professionals.

I also have a historical novel called Temple Dancer that weaves the life of an artist and social worker today with the coming of age of a devadasi during a pivotal period in Indian history. It’s about love and creativity in all its forms. I’m actively looking for a publisher now. I’m also working on a novel about a violinist and a cellist called Broken Strings. I will never stop writing. Yoga clears the space for the stories to flow.

Amy Weintraub

Amy Weintraub (Courtesy of LifeForce Yoga)

Learn more about Amy and purchase her books, CDs and DVDs at

Want more? Read our previous author interview with Jaimie Perkunas.

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