Senior teacher Erica Mather shares a backbending sequence designed to empower.
Ana Forrest isn’t one for heady explanations. Forrest Yoga is a feeling practice: Some answers are found only by doing; talk simply can’t accomplish what breath and experience can. This doesn’t mean that Ana eschews thinking; her style of yoga is a profoundly thoughtful system. That said, Ana’s spirit pledge is to mend the Hoop of the People—attributed to Black Elk, a holy man of the Oglala Sioux—to help heal people’s shattered but undeniable connection. This vital mission won’t manifest through pretty ideas, debates, or philosophies. Action brings our visions and dreams to life. Getting our breath going, blood moving, sweat flowing, and spirits lit are embodied steps for accessing wounded regions that dwell deep within our mortal coil. Breath goes places words never will.
When asked about her teachers, Ana cites lightning and thunder. She’s not being evasive. She’s being honest: To learn about the world, it helps to look beyond our human illusions, deceptions, and entrapments. That said, Forrest Yoga’s asana stems from the lineages that shaped Western yoga—Sivananda, Iyengar, Ashtanga—all of which Ana studied deeply around the world with their originators or primary disciples.
She applied these systems to her own life challenges—alcoholism, anorexia, bulimia, sexual abuse, and epilepsy—and found them lacking. In her years living off the grid on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington State, Ana trained in traditions that honestly confronted the root of her horrific challenges: disconnection from her spirit.
In turn, Forrest Yoga emerged in 1989 as a blend of efficient asana and First Peoples’ wise spirit medicine. It addresses modern physical …