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Bend over backwards for Forrest Yoga. This very physical type of yoga focuses on using dynamic poses in order to work through emotional trauma and achieve a rich passion for life. Sounds intense…
Forrest Yoga is a specific branch of yoga, created by one of the world’s most highly esteemed teachers – Ana Forrest. Born with deformities that left her crippled and encountering difficulties with drug and alcohol abuse, epilepsy and bulimia later in life – Ana used yoga to turn her life around, and Forrest Yoga is the result of that struggle. It has a highly physical, almost acrobatic style, which draws some similarities with Ashtanga yoga, and moves through the demanding poses at some intensity – basically, be prepared to sweat with this one. This sweat is an essential part of the practice, as the heat and vigorous sequences are said to flush out toxins from the body and the long holds of each pose are meant to rejuvenate every cell – so it might be worth taking a towel, or two, with you.
Ana says that the pillars of Forrest Yoga are Breath, Strength, Integrity and Spirit – and it is the connection to the spirit that sets this particular strand of yoga apart from its friends. Ana’s intention is to inspire in everyone a sense of freedom and courage in your own abilities, and her yoga is very much tied to her own personality. The focus is on working through emotional trauma and students may occasionally cry, scream or experience another form of strong reaction to the yoga. Sound scary? Just imagine how good you’ll feel once you’re cleansed both inside and out – although you might want a shower first.
The poses are demanding, but Ana places an emphasis on her yoga being open to everyone. She specifically states that it does not require strength or flexibility, simply the willingness to learn – so it’s perfect for beginners. As you start you’ll learn the importance of breathing and connecting to your own body and spirit, and from there you can work on the poses and how to tailor them to your own experience.
This is not a form of yoga that promises dramatic weight loss or increased levels of fitness, so this is perhaps more for those who are interested in using yoga for its spiritual benefits. Forrest Yoga does have a unique set of movements that focus specifically on the abdominal muscles, so this may appeal to some who wish to work on this particular area, but be warned – they’re not for the faint-hearted...
Ana took her first yoga class at age 14 – just imagine how bendy she is by now...