by melissa b. williams/ photography nils vidstrand & eric perret
find bliss speaks with ana forrest
Ana Forrest is the founder of Forrest Yoga and the Forrest Yoga Circle in Santa Monica, California. Anyone who has attended one of Forrest’s namesake classes understands the strength, vitality and energy that she brings to her practice. When she’s not teaching at the Forrest Yoga Circle, Forrest travels the world leading workshops on everything from “Embodying Spirit,” to “Inversions & Arm Balances,” enabling individuals worldwide to awaken their spirit with Forrest Yoga.
- When did you start practicing yoga?When I was around fourteen a girl at school dared me. She said, “I have something you can’t do.” I looked at her. She was short, a little overweight, and soft and said, “that’s impossible.” Back then, someone throwing down the gauntlet like that compelled me to take them up on it. She told me about this yoga class and I went. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even touch my knees (I grabbed behind my knees). There I was in this class with all of these “old” people [who] were much more flexible than I was. At fourteen, old meant thirty and older!
- Why did you decide to teach?I started teaching yoga almost immediately after I started doing yoga. I started teaching before I was certified as a yoga instructor in 1975. I was substituting for other yoga teachers within 6 months of starting my own practice.As soon as I learned yoga poses, I was forcing people around me to try them. I was very awkward and without grace in my teaching, but I was teaching. I’ve always been a teacher. If I have something of value [to share] I have to pass it on.
- Why did you decide to form your own style of yoga?Forrest yoga evolved out of my adaptation of poses for my own needs; when I would have to change a pose so it would work for me or my students.
- How is Forrest Yoga different than other styles?First and foremost. Forrest Yoga addresses Our People’s needs, the needs of today’s society and the ailments that our bodies are manifesting due to our lifestyle. We have “emotional pus pockets” within our body. Forrest Yoga gets deep into those places and releases them. Then you can deal with the life-experience that was released and you have room within your body to welcome your spirit home. If your body is full of gunk, there’s no room for your spirit to reside. Release the crap and receive back the good stuff.
- What is bliss for you?The high I get from yoga and from pushing my edges into new poses. Another thing that is really important is when a student lights up.
- How do you find bliss?My intention in doing my yoga practice is to do yoga in a way that brightens my spiritâ€”and that will do it.
- How do you know when you’re in a state of bliss?It’s a feeling of being in power, being brilliantâ€”it’s more than happy. There’s beauty all around me and within. I can look at a tree and see its life force. I see its beauty, I see its sparkle. Also, I feel aligned with, “that which moves in all things,” which is a Native American saying. When I feel I’m in alignment, some say, “I’m at one,” I don’t feel the “at one” thing. I feel the movement within me is the same movement within everything.
Melissa B. Williams is the Editor-in-Chief of Healing Lifestyles & Spas Magazine.