In my quest to practise as much as possible over the mid-term break, I opted for mixing it up with something a little bit different.
Ana Forrest is an internationally recognized pioneer in yoga and emotional healing, Ana created Forrest Yoga while working through her own healing from her life’s trauma and experience.
Forrest Yoga is renowned as an intensely physical and internally focused practice that emphasizes how to carry a transformative experience off the mat and into daily life. The practice challenges students to access their whole being and to use Forrest Yoga as a path to finding and then cleansing the emotional and mental blocks that dictate and limit their lives. Students cultivate an acute awareness of their own practice and life process, creating a unique and powerful opportunity for them to make practical life decisions based on their own experiences.
Forrest Yoga does not require strength or flexibility; it only requires a willingness to learn how to feel authentically and respond honestly. The practice is founded on four pillars — Breath, Strength, Integrity and Spirit.
Find out more here.
Brilliant! I thought. That’s exactly what I need to continue this theme of self love. Well I’m not sure if it was the self love that I found tricky or the tremendous lack of strength I felt in the ab sequence but boy, oh boy, this class was tough! Our wonderfully radiant teacher Aoife Kane warned us – with that signature cheeky glint in her eye – that this session would be all about abs and inversions. She also said some lovely things about Forrest Yoga being more meditative and internal than Power Yoga. That our breath would be our mantra. That we would be holding poses longer than normal, not flowing as much as we were used to in the downstairs studio. However, she assured us that the ab work would be the thing to build heat in our bodies. And let me just say this: Aoife is a delightfully honest woman!
The abs were one thing, but it was around the time we went into inversions that my ego really kicked in. I’m still yet to master the handstand-headstand poses so I was pretty chuffed with myself when I managed to get one foot off the wall at a time in my handstand. I even found myself staring in amazement (rather than jealousy!) at some other yogis who we’re moving into eagle legs in their handstands. It was inspiring! However, there is something about dolphin pose that sends my monkey mind into overdrive. Let alone getting my hips high enough to manage lifting up into an arm balance. I feel awkward and weak as I struggle and force my way in.
Side note: I should mention, at this point, that dolphins have always been one of my favourite sea creatures so it really gets my goat that this, of all poses, should be the one I dislike. Yep, I said it – the cardinal yogi sin – I don’t like that pose! And yes – I know – it just means I need to learn to love it, that it is a pose that I need more than others at the moment. Message received. But let it be known that at the moment something inside me steps away when I hear the words ‘come into your dolphin…’. My dolphin feels more like a dodo bird with their head pinned underwater, dazed and confused and struggling for air, surrounded by a pod of graceful, intelligent, lithe swimmers playfully jumping about.
However, the universe has a funny way of leading us back to where we ought to be. The next morning, I woke to find an introduction letter from Ari and Elina which just happened to say exactly what I needed to hear.
Powerful teachers are real, authentic human beings who share their yoga genuinely and from the heart.
Our intention is for each trainee to appreciate the unique strengths and characteristics they have, to express themselves in a way that is true and authentic, with enthusiasm for life and how the practice of yoga makes a difference in their world. We are not looking for perfection in yoga asana, techniques or knowledge. We focus on cultivating teachers whose teaching is genuine and resonates with others.
Needless to say, I walked into my power yoga class that morning with an open heart and the intention to just allow my practise to be mine, today, now. I moved into my first tripod headstand unapologetically assisted by Elina and finished my practise with my legs grasping desperately around her forearm in my headstand. So next week, when I walk out of Aoife’s Forrest Inspired class, not only will I bask in the afterglow of my River-Nile-wide shoulders and upper back, but a newfound sense of play in those places I instinctively walk away from.
And in the end, Child’s Pose is a wonderful thing.