#YogaEveryDamnWay: Forrest Yoga - Mending the Hoop of the People

Forrest Yoga - Mending the Hoop of the People

Name Meaning: 

Forrest Yoga named for Ana Forrest, an American yogini and the creatrix of Forrest Yoga. Despite common belief, it is not named for practicing yoga in a forest. 

Origin + Founder

Forrest Yoga is a modern yoga style based on Hatha yoga that emerged in the 20th century by Ana Forrest, who derived her practice from some aspects of Sivananda Yoga, along with attention to alignment and the use of props found in Iyengar Yoga, as well as the heat and flowing sequences of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

As Forrest evolved her style, she created additional poses and sequences which she adapted to modern society. These poses consisted of wrist stretches to prevent and relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as exercises focused on relieving back and neck pain. She also created abdominal exercises to tone internal organs and strengthen the lower back, and a number of poses using a folded over and rolled up yoga mat.

Ana Forrest has been teaching for nearly 40 years across the United States and the world. 

“I developed Forrest Yoga as I was working through my own healing. I took poses and modified or created new ones to address today’s lifestyle physical ailments.  For example, the ailments that our bodies are manifesting due to our lifestyle – lower and upper back pain, neck and shoulder issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, intestinal disorders.” -Ana Forrest

The 411:  

Forrest Yoga's vision and mission is "to mend the hoop of the people," an idea Ana Forrest got from Native healing. 

With that said, "The healing aspect of Forrest Yoga extends to the emotional body. Students are encouraged to breathe into tight spots or places where they feel stagnant energy in order to free up emotional issues that may be stored there."

The style is founded on four principles:

  1. Breath, to help connect in feeling with one's body and ignite passion for living
  2. Strength, via intense core sequences and long holds of poses that generate heat and heighten the senses
  3. Integrity, in working with the edges of one's practice, particularly around physical and emotional injuries, developing tools to deal with fear and struggle
  4. Spirit, to create a sense of freedom and "courage to walk as your Spirit dictates"

Some sources cite a fifth pillar exemplified by the style's motto, "Go Deeper," into the pose (Forrest Yoga website). 

In Forrest Yoga, practitioners usually hold the poses much longer than in other popular styles, primarily to receive the healing benefits of the postures. Emphasis is also placed on relaxing the neck, breathing and core strengthening.  

Vital Components of Forrest Yoga: 

  1. Active Hands and Active Feet
  2. Tuck Tailbone (Takes pressure off the low back)
  3. Telescope Ribs: Place your hands on lower part of rib cage and inhale to lift ribcage away from belly. 
  4. Expand Ribs: Place hands on sides of ribs and inhale so that the ribs move like an accordion—outward on inhale and inward on exhale.
  5. Wrap Shoulders
  6. Relax Neck: Gently relax your ear toward shoulder and keep neck relaxed during other poses. 
  7. Deep breathing and various pranayama. 

What Makes It Unique: 

According to its website, Forrest Yoga focuses on breath, strength, integrity and spirit. Its intent is to create a sense of freedom, a connection to your Spirit and the courage to walk as your Spirit dictates. 

It teaches you to go deeper to find your truth and encourages you to take these gifts beyond your mat and into your life. It also encourages you to honor and celebrate the beauty of life and the power of the spirit as you deepen your relationship with your authentic self. 

“We also crave and need challenge, adventure and a daily diet of delight.  In my own healing quest, I recognized my loss of Spirit. Something I now see in others – this modern day sense of bereft Spirit. Through Forrest Yoga you get your physical health and strength and also a place in which to welcome your Spirit back home. And by this I do not mean a spiritual practice but rather being your authentic self.” -Ana Forrest