It was nine years ago, whilst on holiday that I first found myself on a yoga mat in a Forrest yoga class. At that point in my life I was suffering from lower back pain, a chronically tight neck and was queen of numbing out. I was constantly pushing myself – at work, in the gym, in yoga. No matter what I did, I felt it wasn’t enough and I certainly had no time to feel my body. Little did I realise at the time that Forrest Yoga would be the practice to heal my injuries, transform my attitude towards myself and change my life!
Forrest yoga is a physically powerful yet healing practice designed by Ana Forrest some 40 years ago. One of the many things that I love about teaching Forrest yoga is that it’s a practice truly relevant for dealing with the stresses people live with in their 21st century lives – neck and shoulder tension from working on computers and mobile phones, lower back pain, anxiety and stress to name a few. Ana developed the practice using her own healing journey of overcoming physical, mental and emotional trauma as the basis. That this is a style of yoga based on real experience really shines through, and is what I feel makes it so effective for helping people both on and off the mat.
Core strengthening work is a key feature of every Forrest Yoga class and has helped my low back enormously. I won’t go a day without doing my Forrest yoga practice and I never miss out abs. The Forrest abdominal exercises are designed to create heat, relieve back pain, and help move stuck energy. They’ve indeed connected me with core muscles I never knew existed! This, along with the longer holds in poses have enabled me to actually feel what is happening in my body rather than blocking it out, and to connect with my own strength.
Throughout a Forrest Yoga class you will always be encouraged to relax your neck rather than look up. This was a delightful discovery to me as computer work had left mine habitually tense and annoyingly uncomfortable. When teaching I find it fascinating to see tension gradually unwinding in this area in my students throughout class. Relaxing the neck, along with moves like shoulder shrugs are amongst my favorite things to teach.
Deep breathing and ujayi breath is also an integral part of the Forrest Yoga practice. We use it to create heat in the body and you’ll learn how to direct your breath to specific areas to bring healing, space and connection. In my first class I felt I was literally breathing life back into my weary body, mind and soul. Breath awareness, along with the basic moves of active feet and hands have also been significant tools in helping me manage panic attacks.
Intelligent sequencing is used to progressively warm up the body for deeper postures, and then warm you back down again. This helps prevent injury and means that you will the class feeling revitalised and great! Each class is based around an intent or theme, designed to help you connect to both your body and mind, and to stay fully present with yourself. Creating my Forrest Yoga classes and workshops is one of my favourite parts of teaching!
For me though, the beauty of Forrest Yoga is its inclusivity; there really is something for everyone no matter what your level of flexibility or strength is. You just need to be willing to show up for yourself on the mat. It’s a dynamic practice that helps cultivate strength, offers modifications to support those working with injuries, and creates the space to go deeper and connect with your authentic self. Last but not least, it’s also really good fun!
Forrest yoga has freed me of low back pain caused by a herniated disc. It’s given me the tools to control anxiety attacks, and the courage to change my life from a profession that made me unhappy to a career where I get to share my passion with other people. For this I will be forever grateful. I never would have dreamed that my random class choice all those years ago in Bali would lead me to this path and I’m so incredibly thankful and happy it did!
Rosalind took her Foundation Teacher Training with Ana Forrest in 2012 and her Advanced Training the following year. She is a senior Forrest Yoga Teacher and Guardian-in-Training, assisting Ana in workshops and on teacher trainings. Take a class with Rosalind at Shoreditch on Thursdays 9.15-10.30am and Sundays 2.15-3.30pm, and at Camden on Fridays 11.30am-12.30pm
Join Rosalind at triyoga for her classes…
forrest yoga open level + forrest yoga level 1-2