My journey with Forrest Yoga began sometime in 2019. I’d promised a yoga teacher I’d recently met that I would attend her class because ‘I’d heard so much about Forrest Yoga, but never tried it!”. So I showed up to the cold and damp basement studio, and to a handful of students.
I’d been an intensely committed vinyasa yoga practitioner for about nine years. Moving my body to the tempo of my breath and to the rhythm of the teachers’ cues felt the closest I could feel dancing. Vinyasa yoga is a practice in which the sequence of postures builds intensity over time. The sequence is held together by a set postures known as ‘vinyasas’. These support transition between sections of the class, create the sense of fluidity in the practice and simulate presence and intentional placement of the body (vinyasa = ‘nyasa’ to place + ‘vin’ in a special way). I remember feeling graceful, fluid, almost sinusoidal as I landscaped my body linearly on my mat.
In Forrest Yoga, the feeling was other – foreign and uncomfortable, at first. In the space of an inhale and an exhale, I’d find myself in a shape; and then there was no movement for another few breaths. Or rather, there was no movement away from the place I had just found myself in – instead, I was being asked to stay, to feel, to breathe into specific landmarks of the body. It felt confronting to stay with my body, to not run away from myself. It was tiring for my trembling muscles; challenging for my avoidant brain.
Faced with my internal world, my mind resisted the stillness. At the end of the 60-minute class, which also included abdominals and a forearm balance at the wall (!), my body felt curiously ‘worked out’ and also ‘stretched- out’. The tension between effort and stretch left me blissfully exhausted and quiet. The best way I can describe it is: the weight of what it felt like to be me on a day-to-day basis lifted, and my energy felt transmuted into a fulfilling sense of calm and acceptance.
Forrest Yoga is an inwardly- focused practice that includes seated, standing and lying down postures; and well as abdominals and inversions. It was created by Ana T. Forrest and has four pillars: Breath, Strength, Integrity and Spirit.
Photo Credit: Elle Lorean