A morning with Ana Forrest

It was a beautiful, snowy day yesterday in Boston. Crisp, quiet, cold. A perfect day for spending some time inside a warm, cozy yoga studio.

Class with Ana - 1.8.2010 (Grateful Yogi is in the white on the right)
I took a 2.5 hour workshop with Ana Forrest yesterday morning at BBY. Over 100 people attended in the new fourth floor studio. Ana is the founder of Forrest Yoga, a vigorous type of practice which obviously bears her name. Ana's story of growing up and being a young yogi, moving beyond physical obstacles, and sharing her talent with the world, is truly inspiring. I had signed up for the class over a month ago, and was really looking forward to giving Forrest Yoga another shot.

I've tried Forrest before, but I honestly just wasn't ready for it. I was a newer student to yoga and looking back, I just didn't have the focus and patience to hold difficult poses for long periods (without music!) and tap into being present with myself.

Forrest is an intense practice that brings you to "your edge" in a powerful way. It is a rigorous holding of postures for longer periods of time, with some traditional vinyasa mixed in throughout the sequencing. It is also a practice that has deep emotional requirements from you - it requires really staying within your body through the practice - not letting your mind wander.

This was the first time that I had seen Ana in person. She has many pictures that you see on the web, or in emails about classes with her. They make her look very serious and almost stern. She has a long, thin body that is truly nothing but muscle, and she wears her long hair in a pony tail with a braid. She is, I'll admit, physically intimidating. The description that comes to mind is - hardcore yogi.

But her pictures don't do her justice. She is incredibly funny, compassionate, and most of all - unbelievably talented. Her class was amazing and she was truly connected to the people in the room. The sequences were so smartly designed - you could really feel the crescendo of the practice. She called out to specific people and really used her assistants to make sure that those who needed assistance were reached (they were all fabulous). It didn't feel like I was in a class with that many people. My abs are VERY sore from all of the core work we did yesterday, but my usual tight spots in my hip joints feel much better than they did before I went - definitely a therapeutic class despite the intensity!

I think that my yoga this week will definitely include a Forrest class. Sometimes you really have to grow into things - and that is why yoga continues to amaze me. You never know what you might grow into next.

-Grateful Yogi