What Is Forrest Yoga?

The amount of yoga styles today is so expansive that it can feel overwhelming.

Still, for some people, no style offers exactly what they look for in their practice – and that’s exactly what happened to Ana Forrest.

After years of research and self-healing, Ana developed Forrest yoga, building upon traditional Vinyasa practices with elements from Native American and Aboriginal cultures.

Forrest Yoga Definition

Forrest yoga is a variation of Vinyasa yoga, created by Ana Forrest in 1982. This practice combines powerful and dynamic asanas with Native American and Aboriginal ceremonies. It aims to aid a yogi to improve themselves physically and mentally and connect to their spirit.

She designed this unique combination of elements from two distant yet equally enlightened and wise cultures to help students connect and accept their deepest feelings. The goal of the practice is primarily to deal with the traumas students experience in life, both emotional and physical. In fact, Anna developed her practice as yoga alone didn’t help her solve her own trauma.

Later, her husband, Jose Calarco, a shaman, helped evolve the style, adding ceremonies, music, and dances from Aboriginal culture.

Although Forrest yoga prioritizes emotional release and connection to one’s spirit, it is also a strong physical practice. The benefit of Forrest sequences compared to other yoga styles is that they are developed to aid in modern-day physical struggles, which are much different from when yoga was first being developed.

Today, people are sitting for long hours and often hunching their posture due to the use of phones and computers. For this reason, Forrest yoga also includes ab workouts, neck, shoulder, and wrist stretches, and traditional yoga asanas.

A typical Forrest yoga class is practiced in a room heated to 85° F (29° C). Most of the time, the practitioners go through a series of powerful standing postures held for long periods of time.

And although this style is not as well known as some more traditional types of yoga, more and more teachers are emerging in all parts of the world. The benefit of the small community is the attention Ana, Jose, and senior teachers called Guardians can give to each new teacher, ensuring every class offers the same level of professionalism and knowledge, regardless of where you practice in the world.

Additionally, this type of yoga is ideal for those who prioritize healing emotional or mental health struggles. Each class is also a healing ceremony, creatively unifying yogic breathwork and asanas, with shamanic rituals and philosophy. Most of the time, a class will have a theme, allowing both the teacher and students to keep developing and exploring new things.

Pillars or Elements of Forrest Yoga

Forrest yoga is founded on four pillars to target our entire being, on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

These pillars are:

  • Breath: Breathing exercises help us connect to our inner, wild, and spiritual selves and aid areas of our body that need healing.
  • Integrity: Students learn to adapt each pose to their own needs, particularly their physical and emotional injuries and traumas. They work to find their edge, grow self-awareness, and add a playful and creative note to their yoga practice.
  • Strength: Forrest yoga is an intense physical practice that teaches you to connect to your core and build both physical and mental strength.
  • Spirit: The goal of Forrest yoga is to find your spirit and build a strong connection with your true self.

Benefits of Forrest Yoga

Benefits of Forrest yoga may include:

  • Increased strength
  • Improved flexibility and range of motion
  • Healing injuries and chronic pain
  • Learning to self-heal trauma
  • Decreased stress, mild depression, and anxiety
  • Increased confidence to do difficult poses
  • Spiritual growth
  • Learning a diverse array of tools and practices from multiple cultures

Forrest Yoga Poses

Forrest yoga poses and elements include:

How to Practice Forrest Yoga

Since Forrest yoga is quite a unique style, it would be best to begin in a studio with a teacher. They would help you find where you are at now and learn how to adapt all the elements of the style to your own needs and body.

Luckily, if there’s no Forrest yoga studio near you, there are many online resources. That includes free content on YouTube (we share some of the best examples below).

Still, some elements might be helpful to understand before your first attempt to do Forrest yoga, regardless of your prior yoga experience.

Before class, Forrest yoga teachers encourage you to take an introspective moment and ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be. Perhaps, you want to learn a challenging asana like Crow pose. Or maybe you want to relieve chronic back pain and improve your posture. Finally, self-care and mental health are also an important part of this yoga type, and your goal might be to release traumas or improve your overall quality of life.

Your own, honest intent will help to guide you through your Forrest yoga journey. You will be able to share it with your teacher, ask for advice, and understand exactly what you’re aiming for every time you return to the mat.

When it comes to structure, Forrest yoga combines both predictable and surprising elements. For example, each class has the same warm-up, breathwork practice, and a sequence of standing asanas which prepares the body for a peak pose. After that, it’s time for a cool-down, which allows the body to relax and unwind. Meanwhile, there are also some unexpected elements in each class, including those of ceremonial nature, like meditative drum music, dancing, and other native rituals.

Although intelligent sequencing is at the heart of Forrest yoga, there is also much room for adaptation towards different levels and physical conditions. As a student, you will learn to have an active role in the class, meaning you will need to find and overcome your own mental and physical edges.

Therefore, if you decide to try Forrest yoga for yourself, you should modify each part of the class if it bothers you in any way. With time, you will develop a keen sense of your own body, spirit, and individual needs.

Start Forrest Yoga at Home

Check out these follow-along videos if you can’t make it to a Forrest Yoga studio or want to try it out at home.

Beginner Forrest Yoga Class with Ana Forrest

Forrest Yoga // Beginner // 60 Mins

Forrest Yoga Core Connection Mini Sequence

Forrest Yoga FAQs

Is Forrest Yoga for Beginners?

Forrest yoga classes are adaptable and accessible to everyone. That includes all yoga experience levels, from beginners who need an introduction to yoga, to advanced students who might enjoy more challenging poses. The style can also aid those dealing with mental or physical struggles, including trauma, disease, and injuries.

How Is Forrest Yoga Different?

Forrest yoga is unique because it combines traditional yoga elements with ceremonies and beliefs from Native American and Aboriginal cultures. It is a creative style that keeps evolving and is primarily focused on connecting to our true spirit, and healing emotional and physical trauma.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Forrest Yoga for the first time if you have any injury, illness, pain, or are pregnant.

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