Introduction to Forrest Yoga and Ana Forrest

Yoga Teacher Ana Forrest
Ana Forrest. Nils Vidstrand/Courtesy of Forrest Yoga

Forrest Yoga is a practice created by west-coast yoga teacher Ana Forrest. Known for her acrobatic, dance-like yoga demonstrations, Forrest drew upon her personal history of overcoming abuse, epilepsy, alcoholism, and bulimia to create an intensely physical vinyasa-style practice that aims to heal psychic wounds. Forrest Yoga incorporates elements of Native American rituals, encouraging students to go deep within and to use their yoga practice as therapy.

Vigorous sequences of poses are intended to build heat in order to "melt hardened places" within and release emotions stored in the body. Special attention is also given to building core strength, breath work, meditation, and the power of the chakras.

The Practice

Ana Forrest's history and personal mystique is deeply entwined with the type of practice she teaches. After using yoga to heal herself, she encourages others to do the same. Her methods are centered around giving students the physical and mental strength to face their fears and overcome them. To do this, one must look deep inside for the sources of fear and pain and teach oneself not to go numb in their presence. Forrest also teaches what she calls "truth speaking," a kind of talk therapy. She emphasizes core strength to literally give students the guts to support their own healing. Another hallmark of Forrest Yoga, keeping very active hands and feet, also supports the therapeutic process by keeping you grounded and supported as well as constantly aware so you can't space out and move away from your pain.

Cult of Personality

Although many yoga styles rely on the disseminated teachings of a charismatic leader, Ana Forrest's method, with its promise of healing, seems particularly tied to her personality. Not necessarily so, says Lynann Politte, who was Forrest Yoga's event producer and business manager from 2003-2010.

"Ana teaches Forrest Yoga teachers to connect with their authenticity and to teach from that authentic deep heart connection. The end result is a corps of teachers who have become healers in their own right, and who are teaching the essentials of Forrest Yoga using their own voices."

Is Forrest Yoga for You?

Forrest Yoga is an amazing practice for anyone who is in emotional or physical pain and needs help overcoming it. It has a great track record in helping people deal with abuse, addiction, and eating disorders. Its emphasis on strength of body and mind means that it often goes to difficult places both physically and mentally but yields great results in rehabilitation. Often when people are in recovery, they feel great when they are doing yoga but have a hard time bringing that feeling back into the world. Forrest Yoga can give them the tools to carry a transformative experience off the mat and into daily life. People who have been touched and healed by Forrest Yoga are its biggest advocates.

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