Ana T. Forrest is known as an “innovative yoga master.” This description sparked my interest to find out more about this remarkable lady, and I discovered her new system of yoga and book, Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit. What I learned is that she experienced and overcame extreme adversity during her early childhood. Today Ana T Forrest stands as an internationally recognised pioneer in yoga and emotional healing.
The Early Years
Ana grew up in a home with physical and emotional abuse which led her to alcohol and substance abuse at the early age of four. As a result of this, she began suffering from epilepsy, migraines, paralysis and bulimia. Paradoxically, Ana turned this energy of suffering into healing energy. “Yoga saved my life,” she reveals, turning to yoga and therapy at the tender age of 14. She learned how to transform her pain and fear into deep inner healing. To fully cleanse and heal her emotional blocks, Ana discovered that she needed to voice her own truth, which would in turn, lead to her transformation. By learning how to heal herself, she became a catalyst to guide others in the same way, which she has been doing now for nearly 40 years.
Her Unique Blend
On her search to become a better healer and teacher, she studied Native American medicine and energetic healing techniques such as homeopathy, naturopathic remedies and hands-on-healing to name a few. Ana’s blend of physical practice, her ability to tap into her inner wisdom and past life regression years, together with ancient and modern traditions from her Eastern methods (e.g her use of Shiatsu training and Native American ceremony) all influenced her to go on and create her own unique approach, a system of yoga she calls Forrest Yoga.
Ana’s Life Calling
Ana received a vision during her time at a Native American reservation. She saw herself standing with rainbows emanating from and around her body while being surrounded by the sun, moon and stars. Ana set about finding out what her vision meant. In her book she writes about Black Elk, a Lakota Medicine Man and healer who described the people around him as spiritually bereft, saying “The Rainbow Hoop of the People has been broken,” and his mission was to protect the sacred hoop of his people by living in harmony. He wanted to restore harmony “just as the rainbow colours lie side by side.” This resonated with Ana’s own vision and inspired her life’s calling, or, as she calls it, her “Spirit Pledge”: to carry out her role and intention within her teaching in Forrest Yoga as “mending the hoop of the people – to inspire people to clear through the stuff that hardens them and sickens their bodies so they can walk freely and lightly in a healing way, in a Beauty Way.”
Forrest Yoga’s Philosophy
The essence of Forrest Yoga’s philosophy is to heal the emotional body by freeing stagnant energy and mend emotional issues that are stored within the body. In Ana’s true healing style her practice is based on four principles or “pillars”, which are:
Breath – the feeling and power within the body to light up your passion for life.
Strength – to feel centred and strong within the core during intense asana/pose sequences.
Integrity – to be honest and learn self-awareness while working at the brink of your practice.
Spirit – to live intentionally and authentically with a sense of freedom.
By articulating her own style, Ana found a way to help heal and awaken people’s Spirits, to help people live their authentic Self, allowing students to eradicate emotional and mental blocks that once limited their lives.
Beyond the Mat
Art Brownstein, M.D. in his book Extraordinary Healing says:
When you are in touch with how you feel, you usually feel energised and alive. Being in touch with your feelings, understanding what they are and what they mean, is important for your health and healing system. When you are out of touch with your emotions you tend to feel separated from life, isolated and lonely.
This way you reveal the true nature of your mind, body and spirit as Forrest Yoga’s proven practices demonstrates.
Forrest Yoga is a well-founded practice that helps you build core strength by using the breath to go deeper into your physical, mental and emotional bodies. This cultivates awareness and ultimately encourages you to find your truth and to bring that sense of “aliveness” beyond the mat and into your daily life.
Power of Spirit
The transformative process doesn’t end there. Forrest Yoga encourages intense internal practice for you to access your intuition. After all, your intuition is your spirit’s internal guidance system. By listening to the voice of your Spirit, you are allowing yourself to heal and grow, build strength, uncover emotional and energetic intelligence to fully realise your authentic self. By so doing, your Spirit can fully reside in the body and live in harmony, both energetically and physically.
Living in Alignment
Reflecting on some of my own emotional transitions, I can identify with Ana’s story and approach to self-healing. Her lifetime’s work is truly remarkable, demonstrating how effective yoga is for reconnecting with the body, finding balance and moving forward in life. Personally, yoga has been so much more than a physical practice for me, it too has supported my own emotional healing. I gained a renewed sense of confidence during my yoga journey, in particular during my teacher training with YogaLondon.
Even as I became an author myself, I’ve been able to share my own personal experiences. By listening to my authentic self I was able to let go of my false beliefs, and as daunting as it was I changed my personal circumstances that prevented my from moving forward. I trusted my intuition which led to a life-changing experience that has had an incredible effect in all areas of my life that allows me to live in alignment with my Spirit.
Ana’s life story, her outstanding healing and teaching is an inspiration. Her work will continue to help many people reveal their life’s calling and to live fully in your own truth.
Choosing to free yourself is empowering beyond words.