“Forrest Yoga? Ah, sounds interesting. So will you guys practice outdoor, in the woods?”
No kidding, I heard that comment a few times when announcing that I had enrolled in a Forrest Yoga teacher training.
“Well, you know, Berlin in September can be rather cold and humid so a warm yoga room is a much more comfortable sanctuary for the practice.”
This was my reply to those confused about the lineage of yoga I was about to follow. And because Forrest (note the double R) yoga is still relatively confidential in Europe (in comparison to the US at least), here is a quick intro based on what I experienced first-hand during my 27-days teacher training last September.
Forrest Yoga is a modern style of yoga created by Ana Forrest, an incredibly charismatic and fierce woman who drew upon her personal history of overcoming abuse, addictions, epilepsy, and depression to create a practice that aims to be an intense body and mind workout.
Forrest yoga takes the useful aspects of traditional yoga and modifies poses to reflect current knowledge of anatomy and physiology, the true impact of alignment and how we can use yoga effectively to achieve the most from every practice, on the mat and into daily life.
Contrary to traditional yoga lineages, there is no OM chanting nor Sansrkit speaking in Forrest Yoga. Instead, the practice integrates nuggets of Native Indian American healing philosophy and ceremony. This unique blend of traditions encourages students to “connect with their spirit” and “speak their truth”. Simply put, students learn to use yoga to connect with who they are and be true to it when making practical decisions.
Forrest Yoga is taught in a room heated to 28-30°C to help warm up the muscles and approach the deeper postures from a safe place. Of course sweating out toxins is another benefit. Having said that, 60 minutes of Forrest Yoga in a non-heated room remains highly beneficial and chances are it will still leave you glowing.
A class starts with an intention or a theme and follows specific guidelines of sequencing, much like climbing a mountain; slowly and with deep mindful breathing working your way to the peak enjoying the exhilarating view and then making your way down again safely and compassionately.
Working on core strength is a pillar of the practice. Abs make it to every single class with the clear purpose to get students functioning very strongly from their center. More reasons to get to love core work include low back stability and improved digestion.
Inversions and arm balances are integral to Forrest Yoga but in classes sequenced around going upside down or defying gravity, students are always given gradually challenging alternatives (working at the wall, partnering, using props, etc…) as ways towards building strength.
An aspect I really love is the constant focus on learning in a safe way. And for the fun factor, you get to practice new poses Ana Forrest created and named using illustrative vocabulary (diving goddess, turn signal, windblown cypress, etc…).
It is accessible to yogis of different levels so whether it is your first time on the time or you are a seasoned student, chances are you will love its diversity, intensify and playfulness.
So make no mistake my friends. Next time you hear about Forrest Yoga, think intelligent sequencing and intensely physical practice in a cozy room rather than strolling in the woods and hugging trees.
Even better, get in touch with me to book a class and find out what Forrest Yoga stands for and what it can do for you.