Forrest Yoga was created by Ana Forrest, an American based practitioner who developed a system of self-healing that has benefited several thousands of people.
Ana currently teaches internationally with her husband Jose Calarco, where they continue to evolve their work. I would like to share with you my personal experience of integrating Forrest Yoga into my life. My background is in bodywork, I studied a variety of complementary therapies and have been involved with FHT since I left University where I studied a wide range of massage styles.
I initially used my skills in complementary therapies (aromatherapy, reflexology, Ayurveda, reiki amongst others) to work with clients in substance mis-use rehabilitation centres in North East England. As an avid yoga practitioner, I taught a couple of classes a week as complement to my 1-2-1 work. As I was fishing around on the internet for yoga workshops to get my CPD fix, I came across Ana Forrest.
Her bio looked impressive. As she had experience working with addiction, sexual abuse & wasting disorders. This was my client group! Without hesitation I signed up and put myself through a weekend of intense yoga asana.
I fell in love with the practice because of the way it made me feel; grounded and very in my body, more so than anything else I had ever done before.
I requested an interview and Ana agreed to talk with me. She shared her history of addiction, sexual abuse and eating disorders as well as the success rate of her yoga program, helping many people in her 40 years of teaching.
I took this story back to the rehabs and when I watched rooms of people become inspired, I decided I needed to invite Ana over to teach them. I had never seen so many people in recovery in the same place ever before in my life. It’s not easy to herd people who are going through already challenging times but she pulled them in!
Forrest Yoga works because it has an extremely grounded approach to engaging with a yoga practice. Poses are modified to suit the individual and the school has an attitude of ‘how much of this can I do’ which opens up the doorway to exploring traditional movements for our own nuances.
Many of these people had developed all sorts of imbalances, physical/emotional scars etc, they had to modify things in order for it to work with the body they had been left with. Forrest Yoga sequences in a way that is easier to build towards complex poses and it has a methodical process that satisfies my biomechanics brain.
The practice also sets a daily intent which helps us to journey inwards. People in recovery know how intent setting is paramount to their healing journey. The intents are unique to the individual, which makes embodying a spiritual practise easier because it’s far more useful compared to forcing ourselves to fit into positions in our body or ideology.
Forrest Yoga has helped my build a sense of strength in my body that I didn’t know I could reach. It has given me a sense of purpose in my physical being and helped me with my own eating disorders and stories of self loathing.
It has helped me set an example to many of my students from all over the world and continues to satisfies as a compliment to all of the other therapies that I practice.
At first, it seems intense, there’s a lot of looking inward, and not in a fluffy way at all, it’s quite confronting, but worth it. Then there is a lot of core work, which brings a sense of centredness on and off the mat. Then there are sequences that can be very easy to advanced but there is room for all body shapes, all forms of scars and a belief that behind our wounds is the very gift we have to share with the world .