Breathe, Go Deeper, Breathe
I heard Anna Forrest was coming to town. One of my favorite teachers has been one of Anna’s Teaching Assistants. I have heard about Anna Forrest for years, and have always wanted to study with her. Not often she comes to Seattle. I couldn’t miss this opportunity. I got on the phone and signed up.
I signed up for a series of early morning intensives; 6:00am to 9:00am. That the studio was 45 minutes away, and that I would have to get up at 4:30 every morning to get there, didn’t register at the time I signed up.
Intensive is the perfect word to describe the series. On my first day, there were over 80 people in the room and the room was at least 80 degrees. In no time we were all pouring sweat. We kept working harder and harder, getting ever closer to the core of our beings. When that first session was over, I truly wondered what I had gotten myself into. I was exhausted, sore, sweaty, shaking, tired, and I wondered how I would be able to keep this up, in addition to teaching my usual classes and remain a sane parent.
I guess I wasn’t the only one that felt that they were being pushed to their limits. The next day at least 15 people had dropped out. As each day passed, the class size diminished. It picked up again on the weekends, but never returned to ridiculously filled class of the first day. Did I mention that our mats were only two inches apart from each other on all sides. Yesterday was my last class, and I think there were only 35 of us left.
I am so glad that I took the series and stuck it out. Anna is an amazing teacher. Now I won’t recommend this series for everyone, but if you are the least bit interested in pushing your practice to the next level, challenging yourself to go deeper and deeper still, then definitely sign up. But remember to check your ego at the door, take a break when you need one and have a strong foundation and understandings of alignment before you enter.
Anna Forest uses a sweat lodge mentality and Native American traditions to set the space. She emphasizes Ujjayi breathing , and the breathing room often sounds like the wind were blowing through the trees. Students are asked to set an intention for each class, an intention to bring healing to some part of their body or spirit. As students move ever deeper in their practice, they are reminded to return to the place that needs healing and breath into it. The intensity and pacing of the class calls to mind the EST seminars of the 70’s. No time for a break, no time wipe the sweat from your bod or tears from your eyes, keep going, dig deeper, release your inner demons.
I truly appreciate having had opportunity to study with Anna. She brings an authenticity and vibrancy to her teaching. She keeps the students on track and focused. She is a master at helping people to go the extra step, and master asanas that may not have ever been available to them in the past. I caught a very cool twisted, extended arm balance (Parsva Eka Pada Koundinyasana I) and as well as a handstand with splits variation (Eka Pada Vrschikasana). I loved the focus on breathing, and the heart opening that accompanies it. I walked away from each session feeling stretched, strengthened and inspired. And amazingly enough, those 4:30 mornings did not wear me out – in fact I was invigorated.
And for you my favorite students, I realized that Anna and I share many similar approaches in our teaching methodology. When she reminded us to set intentions, I thought of you When she reminded us to breathe, I thought of you. I think we both share an understanding of the healing benefits of yoga. However,w I think we come at it from different places. Don’t worry, my classes won’t turn into sweat lodges, and I won’t stand you on your head till your ready. But seeing as this was a teacher training, I may slip one or two new things in for your next class. Hint, Anna loves core work as much as I do.