Yoga for Depression: A Compassionate Guide to Relieve Suffering Through Yoga

More than 25 million Americans are treated with antidepressants each year, at a cost in excess of $50 billion. But the side effects of popular prescription drugs may seem nearly as depressing as the symptoms they’re meant to treat. Veteran yoga instructor Amy Weintraub offers a better solution—one that taps the scientifically proven link between yoga and emotional well-being as well as the beauty of ancient approaches to inner peace.

Addressing a range of diagnoses, including dysthymia, anxiety-based depression, and bipolar disorder, Yoga for Depression reveals why specific postures, breathing practices, and meditation techniques can ease suffering and release life’s traumas and losses. Weintraub also reflects on her own experience with severe depression, from which she recovered through immersing herself in a daily yoga routine.

Yoga for Depression is the first yoga book devoted exclusively to the treatment of these debilitating conditions. Amy Weintraub will help readers see their suffering and themselves in a vibrant new light.

You may be reading this book because you or someone you love is suffering the torment of depression. If you are considering the beginning of a Yoga practice as a means to lessen your anguish and change yourself in some way, you would be on the right track. A daily Yoga practice will bring your physical body and your emotional body into balance, restoring a sense of well being and energy. You will feel more energy, love yourself more and have a happier life. But consider a somewhat different approach taken by the ancient yogis. Yoga teaches us to ask, why do we suffer when our natural state is sat chit ananda, the intelligent awareness of bliss? This is not some “blissed out” high, but a fully mindful state of stable equanimity, informed by “intelligent awareness.” Because beneath even the chaos of mania, the agony of depression, Yoga says, you are whole, or as yogi, psychotherapist and author Stephen Cope puts it, “We are vaguely aware that, at least in some parallel universe, we are unutterably fine just the way we are.”

When you step onto your Yoga mat, you are reminded of that wholeness, and the practice clears a pathway through your symptoms to the ground of your being, that which is your natural state. “Depression,” says international Yoga teacher and psychologist Richard Miller, “Is the feeling of separation from self.” The underlying yogic approach to treating depression is “informed by the knowledge that there is no separation.” The therapist “stands firm in the truth of oneness.” In other words, Yoga begins, not with the question—what is wrong with me? But what is right with me?

Here in the West, we are accustomed to thinking of mental health from the perspective of illness—how best to understand and treat our symptoms. But we practice Yoga as preventative and positive medicine. Just as the immune system is strengthened against the common cold and other viruses with daily practice, the emotional body is strengthened as well. The highs, the lows, the extremes of all the emotions are brought into balance by the practice. In every stage of Yoga, you will find relief from obsessive negative thinking. When you are first learning a pose and moving into it, you cannot possibly obsess about what you should have said in the meeting this morning. To learn the pose, your mind must focus on the details of alignment. Later, when you’re in the pose and you allow your mind to become absorbed in the sensations in your body, you are very far from your everyday troubles.

What the Experts say:

Yoga for Depression is a godsend

Yoga for Depression is a godsend: beautifully written, medically accurate, and very practical. I highly recommend it!

Christiane Northrup, M.D.
author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause

Weintraub has written…

a sensitive, intelligent, painstaking exploration of the deeper psychospiritual issues that make up the complex experience of depression.… What is most impressive about this text, though, is not how much she knows but the way she conveys what she knows, the innate qualities she brings to her writing: her steadfastness in encouraging the reader, her agility at drawing on ageless yoga texts, her insights into the problems of the self and the conditions in modern society that exacerbate them.

Phil Catalfo
Yoga Journal, January/February 2004

Highly recommend it

Heal yourself with Yoga For Depression. I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it.

Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D.
Author of Meditation as Medicine

Her insights are inspirational

Amy Weintraub’s work is some of the most important in our world today for helping humanity understand more deeply the significance of the mind-body connection. Her insights are inspirational for yoga teachers and all readers.

Rama Jyoti Vernon
International Yoga instructor and peace mediator, co-founder, Yoga Journal, author, Yoga: The Practice of Myth & Sacred Geometry

Integrating the mind and the body

This is a book about integrating the mind and the body, about using movement to mend oneself; in a world obsessed with psychopharmacology, reading it was a refreshing reminder that, in some cases, the tools we have to cure depression reside not in a pill, but in our own bodies, if we are willing to try.

Lauren Slater
author of Prozac Diary and Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir

Belongs in the hands of every person

Yoga for Depression belongs in the hands of every person who experiences depression and in the library of every therapist who works with people suffering from depression.


Richard C. Miller, Ph.D.
author, Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga, founder, Integrative Restoration Institute (iRest)

Comprehensive and totally inspiring

In the compassionate voice of someone who definitely knows the territory of depression, Amy Weintraub presents Yoga science and personal stories, research results and poetry, and practice instructions that are genuinely interesting in this very readable book that is both comprehensive and totally inspiring.

Sylvia Boorstein
author of That’s Funny You Don’t Look Like a Buddhist and It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness

An astonishingly comprehensive guide

Yoga for Depression is an astonishingly comprehensive guide to the art and science of Yoga. Herein lies a Yogic blueprint for how to be a human being, written by a compassionate and generous teacher.

Stephen Cope
author, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self & Director, Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living

A beautifully written encyclopedia

This is truly a beautifully written encyclopedia of yoga for depression. It is rare to find such a generous soul, willing to embrace all approaches to yoga, unbiased and yet having intelligent discernment and advice for those searching for help. In Yoga for Depression, Amy offers many guidelines and solutions through yoga, to both those who suffer from depression and to yoga teachers working with them.

Angela Farmer
internationally known master Yoga teacher

A self-aware, self-creating path

With clarity, compassion, and the courage of a person who has lived her own story all the way through, Amy Weintraub offers readers a self-aware, self-creating path through the darker thickets of a life. Her specific, gracefully presented suggestions for joining breath, body, movement, and mind bring one of the great wisdom traditions into a newly useful context, an essential means for renewing and reawakening contemporary life.

Jane Hirshfield
author of five books of poetry, most recently Given Sugar, Given Salt: Poems

Inspiring and trustworthy guide

If you are looking for an inspiring and trustworthy guide to heal into a whole new life, look no further.

Richard Faulds
author of Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice On and Off the Mat.

Brilliant and comprehensive book

In a clear, direct and grounded approach, this brilliant and comprehensive book offers guideposts for those seeking to reclaim their birthright of joy.

Sudhir Jonathan Foust
Former President, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

This book belongs in the hands of every person

Amy Weintraub’s Yoga for Depression offers us a powerful and comprehensive guidebook that provides the reader with a precise path for healing from depression. This book belongs in the hands of every person who experiences depression and in the library of every therapist who works with people suffering from depression.

Richard C. Miller, Ph.D.
author, Yoga Nidra: The Meditative Heart of Yoga, founder, Integrative Restoration Institute (iRest)