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How many hundreds of yoga classes did I teach, quoting my teacher at the end of each class, before my heart’s mind understood those words? Whether the source of my shame was an internalized family legacy, early childhood interactions with my parents or past life karma, my secret name for myself was “Amy Shamey.” Shame wasn’t just a thought or belief. At first the customary whoosh of shame came weekly, then monthly, and then eventually, it disappeared altogether.
This involves a breathing exercise, a movement and a simple meditation technique adapted from an anonymous phrase in Christian liturgy.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart and bring hands to your shoulders with your elbows pointed out like chicken wings. Extend your right arm forcefully to the left as you twist to the left, exhaling through your mouth with a vigorous “ha” sound. Extend your left arm forcefully to the right as you twist to the right, exhaling again through your mouth with a “ha” sound. Let your right hand nest in her left hand with the tips of your thumbs touching and say to yourself “Be still, beloved hands and know that you are safely held.
Do the same practice, beginning with the right foot and moving up the right side of your body. End by placing your right hand on your heart, and your left hand on top, linking your thumbs in a hand gesture called garuda mudra.
For a practice that supports that strong inner, “Yes!” click here to purchase a copy of the Bhavana CD. Amy Weintraub E-RYT, MFA, directs the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, which trains yoga and health professionals internationally, and is the author of Yoga for Depression and Yoga Skills for Therapists. In the late 1980’s I made my first visit to Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and took my first yoga class.
The simple attention to sensation, the backing off from a pose when I needed to, the true listening and honoring of my body, began to change me in the most profound way. This makes it impossible to view much of the content on this website, or to use all of this website’s features. It was a part of my physical being, a daily visceral experience that whooshed through my body, bringing waves of heat and a deep sense of humiliation and with it, grief.
I had been meditating since the early 70’s, and had practiced a bit of yoga asana with a library book.


The breathing practice raises heart rate and oxygen intake, even as it invokes feelings of calm clarity and spaciousness upon completion. Sense deeply into your face, feel the sensation in your face; your arms, the palms of your hands. Repeat this phrase as you move up the left side of your body, all the way up to your crown. Before I began a daily yoga practice in the late 80’s, no amount of meditation turned the volume down on that monster in my mind. No amount of talking about it in therapy, watching it arise on the meditation cushion, or numbing it out with meds, touched the core of my self-hatred.
But it wasn’t until I was on a blanket at Kripalu for the first time, that a teacher invited me to listen to my body and accept it just as it was. I paid attention to my need for sleep, for exercise, for when to eat and when to eliminate. As you speak to your head, you might wish to place your hands on your head so your little fingers are touching at your hairline and your index fingers point to your crown.
It may have been during that first visit to Kripalu, that a teacher spoke the words attributed to Swami Kripalu but actually written by long-time Kripalu disciple and yoga teacher, Carolyn Dell’uomo: “My beloved Child, Break your heart no longer. Mark Twain said that if we talked to our children the way we talk to ourselves, we would be arrested for child abuse. I saw myself as chubby, unattractive and clumsy, compared to my beautiful model mother, whose expressive face appeared on the covers of pulp fiction magazines like True Confessions and Romance in the late 1940’s. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.” I likely wept on my mat, when I heard them, although I don’t remember.
Eventually, when my inner critic attacked, I found myself talking back, instead of believing everything she said. Do not practice the Power Hara Breath if you have had recent abdominal surgery, untreated high blood pressure, or if you are pregnant. What I do remember is emerging from the class feeling a sense of spacious abundance, a touching into wholeness that I had never experienced before.
Had anyone been listening to my self-abuse, they would have locked me up and thrown away the key. In those moments after class, it didn’t matter what I looked like or what mistakes I may have made in my life.


When I made a mistake or fell short of my own expectations, she always had something to say, but I didn’t necessarily believe her anymore.
By the early 90’s, I was teaching a workshop at Kripalu, called, “Befriending Your Inner Critic,” leading others in exercises to find that compassion for themselves, including their shame parts and their nasty inner critics. It had an embarrassing plumpness in the places that should have been lean and an embarrassing flatness in the places that should have been round. In those moments after class, there was nothing I needed to fix, no way I needed to change.
I left Kripalu with a bag full of audio tapes to practice at home, as there were no yoga teachers in my town. Spend a week with this practice and watch your compassion for all your parts begin to outshine the weakening voice of your inner critic.
I came back to my mat, day after day, sometimes struggling to get there with a head full of self-condemnation. And after every morning practice, of stretching and breathing and staying present to the physical sensations the poses evoked, I felt more at home in my body. I don’t think my creative dance teacher would have tried to convince my mother when I was eleven to enroll me in a proper ballet studio with daily classes, if she hadn’t seen in me a grace and fluidity I couldn’t see in myself. But whatever the source, I hated my body and nearly everything else that went by the name of Amy. I have found that the techniques she shares are powerfully effective for dispelling the dark clouds of negativity and hopelessness. But more than that, Amy brings us the ability to easily access the inner world where healing and self-understanding reside.” — Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer, author, The Alchemy of the Desert and The Art and Technique of Using Flower Essences, Tucson, AZ“Amy is a beautiful gift in my life! Weintraub, a leader in the field of yoga therapy, offers evidence-based, easy-to-introduce strategies for managing anxiety, improving mood, and relieving suffering.
Amy knows that what benefits a student is a unique ‘recipe.’ She is a loving and kind teacher.
While taking yoga classes with Amy at Kripalu, I noticed a definite shift in my consciousness, a reduction in stress, and an improvement in my well-being.



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Comments

  1. RAMIL, 26.10.2014
    Six, check out your GP and speak to support boys.
  2. MATADOR, 26.10.2014
    Following the experience sitting down, it's time for him to master potty and hide and poop.