Giving Forrest yoga another try

Last November, I attended a talk at a local studio given by the founder of Forrest yoga, Ana Forrest.  I found her words empowering and inspiring, and vowed to return to that Chicago studio to give her style of yoga another try.

Nine months later, I today finally made it back to that studio.

Better late than never.  At least I followed through with my intention.

Forest yoga had never really resonated with me over the years; I found it a bit too aggressive.  But, I thought that if her words struck a chord with me that evening in November, then perhaps my life has evolved to a point where the asana practice might clique, too — that was my rationale anyway.

Did this morning’s practice clique?  Kind of.  Did I learn from the experience?  Absolutely.  Would I go back?  Sure … but I’m in no rush.

I love sampling different styles of yoga, and taking something away from each.  There is always something to learn.  That’s was my approach and take-away with this return visit to Forrest yoga.

This yoga style fosters a fierce mental toughness, as you’re holding each pose for a considerable amount of time.  It’s not a flowy vinyasa.  It’s not gentle hatha.  Forest yoga is tough.  Legs shake.  Arms fatique.  The core quivers.

I reached my edge numerous times during the practice, battling with my mind to not let the fatigue of my body give in.  Sometimes my body endured; sometimes it did not.  Regardless of the result, I accepted it.

The mind-body jaust was intriguing.  Just several years ago, I would have viewed the holding of poses (for what seemed like an eternity!) as instigators of “pain” and “suffering” and “get me the hell out of here” mental chatter.  Today’s class inspired curiosity.  It’s a new level of awareness for me, which is a pretty awesome thing to recognize.

The sour grapes of this experience: something the instructor said to me.  While he was very hands-on and clearly knew his stuff, I was rattled when he told me “your teachers are wrong” — in the middle of practice, after I declined an adjustment in pigeon pose because it wasn’t part of my practice style and I wasn’t comfortable making a shift today.  That statement was a very un-yoga thing to say and again, I sensed some arrogance behind it.  It upset and angered me that a yoga teacher who doesn’t know me or my practice would make such a comment, and unfortunately I let it affect the rest of my practice.

After class, he apologized for making that statement, which I really appreciated, and he cryptically explained his rationale.  That helped alleviate the negative energy the comment produced.

More importantly, however, it cast a light on how significant each word and action by a yoga teacher is during a class.  Yikes.  If a line like that affected me so, it’s a good reminder to stay mindful to my words and body language — inside and outside of the yoga studio.

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