Wherein my guest, a yoga instructor and writer, answers three questions and shares one (sometimes more than one) pose that yogis and writers will find informative, intriguing, and entertaining.
You’ve probably heard (or even said) “Yoga changed my life.” My guest today knows exactly what that means. While in her twenties, Amy Weintraub suffered from what she calls numbing depression. She credits her yoga practice for providing the shift in her life that turned everything around.
As a yoga instructor, she’s able to share what she learned on her yoga journey. She’s also written a few books about that journey, both fiction and non-fiction. And now–ta-dah! She’s the proud mom of Yoga For Your Mood, a card deck offers breathing and physical exercises you can use to shift your mood and manage your mind.
Which came first, your yoga or your writing?
I would say it’s a circle. First came the writing, then the yoga, then the writing about the yoga.
In the 80’s, I was a depressed fiction writer, banging my head against the wall of New York publishers, despite being well agented. I won a couple of national awards for my short stories, but my novels were not published. Rejection didn’t cause my depression, but it certainly didn’t help. When I began to practice yoga in the late 80’s, my depression lifted, and then, when I became a yoga teacher in 1991, I became passionate about sharing with others what had saved my life. When I began writing about yoga and mood disorders, first just depression, for Yoga Journal, it was as though the red carpet rolled out. I had the big publishing houses vying to publish my first yoga book, Yoga for Depression.
When I used what I had been given, depression and an ability to write, and then wrote about my own and other’s healing through yoga, I became a published writer.
Are you primarily Hatha, Bhakti, Karma, or other?
I began as primarily a Hatha practitioner, because my mind was too agitated to meditate. Through daily hatha practice that included pranayama and a little chanting and the typical guided relaxation at the end of mat practice, over time I developed the capacity to sit in meditation. My practice has evolved over the past 30+ years. Now, I steep myself in chanting, pranayama and kriya practice, and meditation. However, the first thing I do in the morning is go to my mat. I listen to what my body needs and practice yoga asana (and core abdominal strengtheners) for about 45 minutes. This physical practice includes mantra chanting and pranayama.
After my body wakes up, and the night’s stiffness has eased, I sit for meditation, beginning with more pranayama and cleansing kriya breathing and Sanskrit prayer. I end my silent meditation with my own prayers, while imagining the faces of my beloveds, followed by closing Sanskrit prayer.
Every part of my practice clears the space within, so that I am awake to the Divine and my actions during the day are aligned with Divine energy. So, what kind of yogin am I? You tell me.
Choose one of the 8 Limbs and tell us how to use it to improve our writing.
This is an interesting question, because I’m struggling to decide between Satya and Tapas. I cannot imagine writing, even or especially fiction, without being aligned with the truth. If I am not coming from emotional truth, I am blocked. And yet, the fire of tapas is what engages me to sit down at the computer and face a blank page with the commitment to show truth. The fire of tapas burns away what isn’t serving that truth-telling. And it’s the fire of tapas that commits me to my writing practice. So, to answer your question, I think we all need the fire of tapas to commit to our writing, and our commitment to satya is what improves it.
If you had to limit your practice to a single asana, which one would you choose?
Oh, this is a hard one, because I think asana is such a small percentage of my personal practice!
So, I am going to imagine the question differently.
What is the one pranayama?
Analoma Viloma (alternate nostril with retention, that includes silent mantra during retention).
What is the one Kriya breathing practice?
Uddiyana Bhanda with Agni Surya. (Belly rolling is great for depression, but contraindicated for many conditions, including alimentary track inflammation, pregnancy, menstruation, high state of anxiety, bipolar disorder with a tendency toward mania.)
What is the one mantra practice?
LifeForce Yoga Chakra Clearing Meditation (Includes the bija mantra practiced meditatively with mudras)
What is the one asana?
Chakrasana – Wheel Pose
I love this pose because it keeps arms and legs strong, it opens up the front of the body, and makes my heart sing.
About Amy Weintraub
Amy Weintraub, C-IAYT, MFA, E-RYT 500, YACEP, is the founder of the LifeForce Yoga® Healing Institute, an acclaimed yoga therapist, and a pioneer in the field of yoga and mental health. In 1999 Amy wrote “The Natural Prozac”, Yoga Journal’s first article addressing yoga and depression. She is the author of Yoga for Depression, Yoga Skills for Therapists, the new card deck, Yoga for Your Mood: 52 Ways to Shift Depression and Anxiety, and numerous articles and book chapters. She guides thousands of practitioners and yoga and mental health professionals around the world. Her Silver Nautilus Award winning novel Temple Dancer was released in 2020. She thrives in Tucson, Arizona, where she mountain bikes, dances, writes, and creates.
Find more about Amy and her workshops, books, and practices at amyweintraub.com.
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2 thoughts on “3 Questions & a Pose ~ Amy Weintraub”
I must learn more about yoga.this is inspiring. Thank you.
Yoga would be so good for you! It’s important to find the right style and the right teacher, however, so do take some time and try different things.
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