Review: Amy Weintraub – Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieving Suffering

Over 17 million people are diagnosed with clinical depression each year in the U.S. alone. One such person was Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga, who 15 years ago was diagnosed with severe clinical depression.

Like most people dealing with depression, Weintraub took the suggested route of antidepressants only to discover that medication, while the most common way of dealing with depression, isn’t always the most successful.  In her book, Weintraub presents her struggle with depression and antidepressant medication and the path that eventually led her to stumble over an alternative method for combating depression. 

Yoga as a Simple and Healthy Solution to Depression

Yoga, Weintraub found, offered a simple and healthy solution to depression. Once she began practicing yoga as therapy for depression, Weintraub was able to slowly go off medication. For more than 15 years now, she has stayed free of depression and off antidepressants.

Weintraub chronicles her struggles in her book, Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga. She highlights how yoga combats depression by treating the whole problem, and not simply the symptoms of depression. “[A] daily practice of yoga will bring your physical body and your emotional body into balance, restoring a sense of well-being and energy.” In making her case, Weintraub shares her own story, those of her students, and even presents scientific evidence.  

Yoga for Depression doesn’t condemn psychiatric medication. Instead, Weintraub advocates for a more holistic approach. As one reader says, “ As an integrative, spiritually oriented psychiatrist who is committed to building bridges between traditional psychiatric medicine and spiritual practices which can augment healing, I applaud Amy Weintraub’s contribution to the field.”

Yoga for Depression includes various descriptions and pictures of poses and exercises, however, the author suggests the reader also considers joining a class led by an experienced yoga instructor. Weintraub has dubbed her unique collection of yoga exercises for depression LifeForce Yoga and has trained a number of yoga instructors in this particular approach to yoga.

Is Weintraub’s experience using yoga to fight depression unique or does yoga for depression indeed have the potential to offer help with depression? It’s long been acknowledged that exercises in general is one of the most effective ways to combat depression, and early results from a pilot study on yoga for depression confirm that Weintraub may be on to something. In a study of 54 people practicing yoga for depression, participants showed 64% decrease in mood disturbance and a 53% reduction in depression.

Just judging from reader comments, Weintraub is on to something, and her book is succeeding in what every author hopes for: helping people—in this case to fight depression. As one reader notes, “Reading this book has led me to a fuller, richer practice, and a fuller richer life. I threw away the anti-depressant medications and blended my new yoga practice with psychotherapy, I have regained my power and have taken charge of my emotions.”

While not a substitute for medical advice, Yoga for Depression has the potential to help many people fighting depression. Amy Weintraub writes with clarity, compassion, and wisdom. Her book is not for the few but for the many; the author speaks to each and every person fighting with depression.

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