This weekend I attended a workshop with Ana Forrest. Friday night was an intensive 3 hour class, Saturday and all of Sunday sessions were titled “Romancing your Spirit” and Saturday afternoon was dedicated to “Inversions and Arm Balances”. I’m going to attend Ana’s teacher training this summer and I was very much looking forward to this weekend to study with her before that training. This is my third Ana Forrest workshop. It’s great that she is in beantown again on a regular basis – two times last year and one time so far this year. She is sponsored by Back Bay Yoga Studio– a great studio that has many workshops and classes to fill up the yogini’s time. I’ve recently begged then to stop having so many great workshops as I am going broke!
Friday night was another hellish drive. Luckily I left early enough to get through traffic and find parking. There was a Red Sox game and when that happens, there’s not room anywhere to park or drive. The class was held at Back Bay Yoga studios in a super heated space. The class started with pranayama – uddiyana breathing than some bhadakonasana poses, abs (of course – this is Forrest Yoga), bridge with alternating legs up, dolphin with alternating legs up. Then we went into B-series with various standing poses to get ready for backbends – with a few balance sequences in there. Backbends included camel, dancer with a strap, bow with a strap, wheel with alternating legs up, walking wheel, than some back traction thank goodness, and then some backbend lunges. To unwind the back we did a series of standing poses: Warrior 2, Reverse warrior, extended warrior variation, bound warrior, than warrior 1 and into twisted warrior and bound twisted warrior. I may not have the exact sequence as I was busted by Ana taking notes. She does not like people taking notes in her workshops – she wants people to experience it instead. After class it was one of the best savasanas I’ve ever had in my life.
This class was very similar in sequence to the intensive she had when she was last here in December but there were some new poses (like boat with shoulder shrugs). We did queen pigeon – an amazing hip opener.
Saturday morning was held at the Sheraton. The room was not as super heated as the studio, but still very warm, and there was way more space. In the morning we did a terrific hip opening class. We didn’t do a lot of standing poses – we did a Forrest opening sequence – bhaddakonasa, buzz-breath, abs, bridge, and dolphin – and then we went to the wall for various inversions. We then did classic sun salutations and the rest of the class was on the floor focused on hips. We did do an interesting variation in shoulder stands which involved helicoptering the legs. Advanced students moved into “blown cypress” – a side bend in shoulder stand that get a stretch into the psoas like nothing else I’ve done.
I should mention that I have a problem hip joint on my right side. Nothing – and I mean nothing – has healed it like these hip workshops that I’ve done at Ana’s workshops. This was reminded me of the hip workshop she did in December of last year but it was a totally different sequence. Same effect – the pain in my hip joint is gone. Of course, it comes back from daily living but I have hope that I can work on it.
Saturday afternoon was the inversions and arm balancing class. Before I started practice Forrest Yoga two years ago, I could just about do crow and no other balances. In the last two years, I have progressed to do at least the intermediate variations that Ana shows in her workshops and once a while more. Ana pushes us at workshops to go beyond our limits of what we think we are able to do. She teaches us to do that in a safe way. And when we achieve it – it’s exhilarating. This class was again a whole new sequence and many new poses than the gravity surfing workshop I took in December of last year. We experienced gravity in a whole new light. My yogini friend Laura and I partnered up and she was able to get into headstand and elbow stand for the first time. It truly was exhilarating! And I was able to gravity surf from side crow, into twisted scissors, into scissors. Okay – not perfectly – but I have something to work it and I went farther in those poses than I ever have! Again – Laura and I floated out of the class excited about our accomplishments.
To get an idea of how Ana helped us move beyond our fears, she had us in down dog at one point and we jumped up – even just 6 inches – as if we were going to go into hand stand. She said – “This is how it starts”.
Now you might be thinking – “This isn’t what yoga is about – it’s not about achieving poses”. That’s OK if you think that. Yoga is personal. But for me, yoga is about moving beyond my current mind patterns which affect my entire life. My yoga practice helps me do that. If I can jump just 6 inches off the floor to start into hand stand in the middle of room, than I could a similar think in other aspects of my life.
This yoga has a profound effect on my body. I spent the week weight lifting and was as tight as a rock. The yoga on Friday night removed all the soreness. But the strength is still there (believe you me –these classes are strenuous – especially for the core of the body).
More on tomorrow’s workshops later…