Aria Persei

Filtering ❣ On the way to Remembrance

The fierce practice of Forrest Yoga

Forrest Yoga is an intensely physical and internally focused yoga practice that has charmed me by its depth. For sure, it is pretty clear how a teacher is holding space during a yoga class. When a teacher is holding the space from a place of maturity, students are able to dive deep into their own processes. Breanna Heil is amongst those teachers, encouraging the students to ask themselves : « is this right for me today ? What is this feeling right now ? ».

Before Breanna came to Brussels to teach Forrest Yoga, I never heard about the approach: «  I found out about Forrest Yoga during a Hong Kong conference where big names of yoga teachers from all over the world were gathering. I signed up for the « stalking your fears » class. » The class was with Ana Forrest, the creatrix of Forrest Yoga: « Ana Forrest is super fierce and a powerful role model. Before that, I had trained with mainly male instructors, so to see a woman having created her own system and being a lot older than the majority was really inspiring. I thought « this woman has something and it really is working for her and I want to see what it is about. » Breanna followed the advanced training: « I remember my first practice. I had been practising yoga for 7 years and teaching for 3. It was a 3 and a half hour practice and I was about to lose it. I didn’t understand the sequencing and why there was so much core. I found myself in poses that were making me angry. Some poses got me in tears. It was really intense. But something was shifting within me. Forrest Yoga really cracked my view of reality wide open and started the journey of redefining who I was as a yoga teacher and as a human being. »
Genesis of Forrest Yoga

Ana Forrest took her first yoga class at age 14 on a dare and became a certified instructor at age 18. One of her core strenght is that she isn’t apologizing for who she is. To give birth to Forrest Yoga, she included her knowledge of healing modalities, including homeopathic and naturopathic remedies, anatomy and different body practices including craniosacral and her experience with other types of healing work (sweat lodge, vision quest and native American healing). She also took into account common injuries: « I created Forrest Yoga because the traditional forms of yoga did not address most of my deeper injuries; my lost Soul, the helplessness around the addictions and the on-going suffering. I took poses and modified or created new ones to address today’s lifestyle physical ailments, including lower and upper back pain, neck and shoulder issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, intestinal disorders. What Forrest Yoga is for me is going into ceremony and the pose is the arena of exploration. »

Yoga as a self discovery path

Now entering her thirties, Breanna is looking fora place to settle after living in many countries around the world for 7 years. Brussels might be the lucky one: « I started yoga while I was still at university. I was looking for something to do in the off season of competitive swimming. What started as a way to relax, has turned into a practice of over ten years and a career of six. Sometimes doubt still comes in uninvited and makes me think, “Why am I not a writer? Is this really what my purpose in life is? What really is my why?” But sooner or later, I am brought right back to the mat and right back to students of all backgrounds. It was a long process to make my lifestyle my career, and I’m so grateful I have. Something inside of me is driving me, stronger than the doubts. What I love about Forrest Yoga is that it seems to draw people who are ready to move through things and want to go a little bit deeper. »

In Forrest Yoga, you won’t find any indian chanting or indian philosophy. None of that is in the 200-hour training: « that’s not where Ana Forrest has been getting her inspiration from. I didn’t have to become somebody else to do yoga. I didn’t have to become more spiritual. It was a relief. It feels so much more authentic. » The training also taught Breanna how to take an inhale before she speaks so she doesn’t run out empty of air. « Another key difference is that generally there is no music played during my classes. It distracts me and my students from doing the very important work of being with themselves. It is very seldom that we find ourselves in silence in our busy lives. In this quiet, we can learn so much about ourselves. When you pair less distractions with yoga poses, you really do some deep work. » The practice focuses on core abdominals and there is no doubt you will remember your first set just as I did. Thanks to Forrest Yoga I have a better acknowledgement of where my neck is at during a practice as Forrest Yoga classes encourages to release tensions in the neck area. Many poses leave room for it to be in a relaxed state. Nowadays, thanks to these teachings, as soon as my neck feels unconfortable, I am asking myself : « how can I make it better for my neck ? ».
In Forrest Yoga classes, the teacher leaves room for the intuition of the student to come through. So that slowly, this powerful quiet voice within becomes louder and the student can identify more with what is authentically them. At the end of class, the field has shifted, space has opened. And sometimes, there is invitation to join in song, to the tune of Breanna’s horse skin drum, made in Peru: « I had never sung before. For me, it’s important the song is trying to convey something ». This moment is a moment of service, it’s not entertainment, it’s not about the teacher, it’s about something greater: « for me, it’s really important to hold space with whatever the students are coming with. So many different goals find themselves in a small room. How do I hold space for all if these aspirations ? They are all here for a reason, they showed up. Whatever happens from here is fine. There will be something for everyone in my classes. I am not everyone’s teacher and I am okay with that. When you come to practice, you know there will be great moments and you also know there will be not so great moments. For me, it’s much more than a yoga class. »

Join Breanna on Instagram @namastebre.

Forrest Yoga website and videos

Ana Forrest’s book: Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit (2012)

Find articles written by Breanna on Medium

How I Ran Myself Right Out Of Not Being Good Enough

Not being good enough. This comes up on many platforms. We bake a lot and love our treats but when it comes to sharing them we think, are they good enough? Everyone is, in one area or another, navigating self worth differently, in different categories, and at different rates. (…) I didn’t get here after failing to feel I was worthy once, but failing many, many times. It’s just that something shifted, and I now feel able to talk about it. This moment is after years of crying and forcing and running and boxing and whatever else, all coming to this moment of transformation if you will. – Breanna





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