by Kara-Leah Grant
Meet Ana Forrest.
Ana is the creatrix of Forrest Yoga, an internationally renowned yoga teacher and medicine woman, and the author of Fierce Medicine.
She’s also headlining Wanderlust NZ 2015.
Ana’s approach to yoga could be summed up in this quote from her:
“If you want to use yoga to heal emotional pain, you must find out where it resides in your body and learn to take your breath there. I don’t teach yoga to help people to transcend. I want people’s Spirits to reside in their body. I literally want to help people embody their Spirit, not go through life fragmented.”
Ana has an impressive background of study and clinical application of healing modalities, including homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, anatomy, reflexology, pressure point therapy, craniosacral therapies, Shiatsu, chiropractic, polarity and hands on healing.
This broad spectrum of the healing arts always informs her work. In her life-long pursuit of becoming a better teacher and healer, Ana has also undertaken intimate studies in Sweat Lodge, Pipe Ceremony, Vision Quest and Sundance with various Native American and African healers.
Her yoga is the yoga of courage – it’s fierce and calls upon us to be with our fears, to follow them down into our bodies and see what lies beneath.
Editor’s Note: Get on it! Wanderlust is an extraordinary gathering of some of the world’s best yoga teachers all in one place for four incredible fun-filled days. Normally you would pay thousands and travel days to attend classes with teachers like Tiffany Cruikshank, Suzanne Sterling, Duncan Peak, Eion Finn, Cameron Shayne and Ana Forrest. It’s an exceptional opportunity.
Tune into hear Ana and Kara-Leah’s conversation:
On how her childhood informed her work
“It’s more like healing from it has informed my work… being born crippled, being raised in abusive situations, sexual abuse and then going into substance abuse. And then into bulimia and anorexia. Basically just one addiction after another.”
“As a result what I developed was this system of yoga that addresses the needs of our people in the twenty first century, instead of something that was relevant five thousand years ago.”
On her first yoga class:
“Looking back… it was to me very obvious that the sacred ones were running a little intervention.”
“I couldn’t do anything. Because I was so stiff. There were all these really old women in class that had to be at least 30 years old… These people they could touch their toes… and I was just completely blown away.”
On how yoga changed her destructive behaviour:
“Studying it and reading the books… There was just so much that felt irrelevant to addressing my suffering. I didn’t actually know that there was healing available to me. That wasn’t really presented.”
“I studied a lot of different yoga modalities… but the teachers were not that effective on me because they had a lot of lala bullshit going on.”
On training with B.K.S Iyengar:
“We didn’t get along very well. But I really appreciated about Iyengar and his work was the precision he bought into the yoga field.”
“What I also learned from him was what I didn’t want to become as teacher because he was pretty abusive with his yelling and screaming and spitting and the humiliation of his students…I want my students to become empowered people, not humiliated.”
On going through alcohol withdrawal and delirium on a Yoga Teacher Training:
“That was what a lot of my training was about…There were lectures going on about Sanskrit and I wasn’t there for any of that. I was watching the snakes and scorpions crawling over me…Nobody knew what I was going through.”
On how Forrest Yoga developed:
“I began going into the medicine world… I went into the therapy world… And that’s how I actually started to break through the barriers inside of me”
“I recreated ceremony to bring it into everything that I teach.”
“This was so precious to me and I was so afraid that people would put me on one of the shelves as another one of those products of the spiritual supermarket, which I despised.”
On her Wanderlust NZ workshops:
“I’ll be teaching people how to track viscerally what is going on… and how to track the signs of a breakthrough… So that whatever it is that’s wanting to change can bloom open.”
“People say ‘Well I’m afraid because it’s so intense and you have this reputation for intense and I’m not good enough’ and it’s like trust that I’ve been doing this for over forty years and I’m a really good ally. Trust me to guide you wherever you’re at.”
“I can help you tap into something that’s so much more delicious, compelling, and fascinating than the shit you’ve been doing.”
Unfortunately, while the audio is excellent on the conversation, the video froze up twice – at the beginning of the interview until about 6:50 and between approximately 1o minutes and 20 minutes. Ana is so expressive and amazing to watch though that I chose to publish the interview as video rather than audio so you could enjoy the segments between 7 and 10 minutes and after 20 minutes.
Ana Forrest on Breaking Down the Barriers With Yoga
Ana created Forrest Yoga as she worked through her own life traumas — including abuse and addictions to find healing. She teaches from an intuitive and highly-developed understanding of the human body and psyche. Native American Medicine and the clinical application of healing modalities—including homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, reflexology, pressure point & craniosacral therapies, Shiatsu, chiropractic, and hands-on healing—always inform her work.