Forrest Yoga

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Forrest Yoga
FounderAna T. Forrest
Practice emphases
breath, strength, integrity, spirit
Related schools
Sivananda Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Hatha Yoga

Forrest Yoga is a modern yoga style based on Hatha yoga. It was created by and named for Ana T. Forrest, an American yogini.[2] It is known for "its long holding of positions, emphasis on abdominal core work, and standing series that can go on for 20 poses on each side".[3] Reputed for its intensity, the style emphasizes connecting to one's feelings in order to work through physical and emotional trauma.[4]


Forrest derived her practice from some aspects of Sivananda yoga, along with attention to alignment and use of props found in Iyengar yoga, and the heat and flowing sequences of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. As the style evolved, she created a number of additional poses and sequences adapted to modern society,[3][5] such as wrist stretches to prevent and relieve carpal tunnel syndrome. Forrest wrist stretches are also important "to warm up and stretch out the hands and wrists before their usual yoga practice. First, stretch each finger open one at a time, by grasping the finger and pulling it back for one breath. You should feel the stretch in the fingers and across the palm and a little into the forearm. Next, place all of the fingers on the floor or a table with the fingertips facing toward your torso. Stretch the fingers, but not the palm of the hand, down toward the surface. From that position, see if you can stretch the whole palm down, though you may not make it the whole way. Finally, extend the arms straight out from your shoulders, parallel to the floor. Curl the fingers one by one into the palm, starting with the little finger and ending with the thumb, forming a fist. First, curl the fist in toward the underside of the wrist and then stretch it out. Repeat this exercise a few times before you put weight on your hands." [6] She also created shoulder shrugs to relieve tension and loosen the upper back,[7] abdominal exercises to tone internal organs and strengthen the lower back, and a number of poses using a folded over and rolled up yoga mat.[8]

Forrest Yoga classes are conducted in a warm room (85 °F or 29 °C)[9] and begin with pranayama, then move through seated poses and abs before arriving on to the "hot part" of the class that might involve sun salutations, standing poses, inversions, backbends and other asanas that build up to a number of more challenging "apex" poses. The "contemplative, intensive poses are sustained, some for 10 deep breaths, others for minutes at a time".[10]


Forrest Yoga's vision and mission is "to mend the hoop of the people".[2]:257 [11] Ana T. Forrest wrote, "I began to read about Black Elk, a healer and Medicine Man of the Oglala Lakota Sioux. He's best known for sharing the teachings of the Sioux with a white man named John Neihardt (who earned the name Flaming Rainbow), who published them as Black Elk Speaks. In that book, he shared a powerful vision he'd received through a 'rainbow door' when he was nine years old, about his mission to protect a 'medicine wheel' around a sacred tree on the 'good red road' that is the true good medicine of the native peoples. At the time Black Elk had his vision, the assault on the traditions of the Sioux was well under way; their culture and Spirit were dying out. Black Elk proclaimed, 'The Rainbow Hoop of the People has been broken.' He wanted to restore it, and this became his life's work...reading about Black Elk's life's work helped me to articulate my own—I call it Mending the Rainbow Hoop of the People."[2]:171 In this style, "the healing aspect of Forrest Yoga extends to the emotional body. Students are encouraged to breathe into tight spots or places where they feel stagnant energy in order to free up emotional issues that may be stored there."[12]

The style is founded on four principles, or "pillars":[10]

  1. Breath, to help connect in feeling with one's body and ignite passion for living
  2. Strength, via intense core sequences and long holds of poses that generate heat and heighten the senses
  3. Integrity, in working with the edges of one's practice, particularly around physical and emotional injuries, developing tools to deal with fear and struggle
  4. Spirit, to create a sense of freedom and "courage to walk as your Spirit dictates"[8]

Some sources cite a fifth pillar exemplified by the style's motto, "Go Deeper".[13]

Basic Moves[edit]

Forrest Yoga's physical practice uses a number of "basic moves" in every pose up until Savasana.[14] Many of these moves resemble those practiced in other yoga styles, such as Ujjayi breath and tucking the tailbone, while others are unique to this style, particularly the practice of relaxing the neck and wrapping the shoulders. Overall emphasis is on breath work and core strengthening.[15]

  1. Active Hands and Active Feet: For Active Hands, spread hand bones wide and extend finger bones fully to benefit arms, wrists and hands. For Active Feet, press through heels and balls of feet and lift toes to help strengthen the lower half of the body. "[16]
  2. Tuck Tailbone: Turn on glutes in order to lengthen tailbone downward. Takes pressure off of lower back.
  3. Telescope Ribs: Place hands on lower part of rib cage and inhale to lift ribcage away from belly. Helps to create space in back and in soft organs as well as increasing breath capacity.
  4. Expand Ribs: Place hands on sides of ribs and inhale so that the ribs move like an accordion—outward on inhale and inward on exhale. Enhances breath capacity.
  5. Wrap Shoulders: Move shoulder blades around toward armpits. Ensures shoulder girdle involvement and in poses using arms, creates muscle awareness in upper back and shoulders, conditions that part of your body.[17]
  6. Relax Neck: Gently relax ear toward shoulder and keep neck relaxed during other poses. Opens up muscles that are typically tense and engaged.
  7. Deep breathing: Provides more aliveness to the entire body. [18]

Another part of Forrest Yoga practice is development of feeling connections between one part of the body and another. As Forrest noted, "I call this synaptic bridging. Synaptic bridging helps the brain make more intelligent mind-body connections."[19]


  1. ^ Yoga Journal Editors. "Which Yoga is Right for You?". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Forrest, Ana T. (2011). Fierce Medicine. New York: Harper One. ISBN 978-0-06-186424-7.
  3. ^ a b "Yoga Guardians on a Healing Mission," by Mary Billard, NYTimes, July 29, 2011,
  4. ^ Cook, Lynn. "Forrest yoga challenges with added intensity". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Firefly, Frog and other Yoga Positions Good Aloft", by Ana Forrest, New York Times, June 20, 2006, [1]
  6. ^ McCall MD, Timothy (2007). Yoga as Medicine:the Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing. New York: Bantam Dell. pp. 237–238. ISBN 978-0-553-38406-2.
  7. ^ "Shrugs: A Pose for all Seasons and Reasons," by Barbara Passy, "Yoga Chicago", May–June, 2014.[2]
  8. ^ a b Forrest, Ana. "Forrest Yoga Philosophy". Mossy Knolls Inc. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  9. ^ Dobbyn, Paula. "Ana Forrest: Rock star of the yoga world". Anchorage Press. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  10. ^ a b Liu, Christine (January 21, 2010). "Om my!". Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Creating Embodiment: An Interview with Ana Forrest", by Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D., HuffPost, February 12, 2015, [3]
  12. ^ Sharon Steffensen, "Ana Forrest: Mending the Hoop of the People", Yoga Chicago, November/December 2003, p. 12
  13. ^ "Workshops with Ana Forrest — First time in Jakarta, Indonesia!". jakartadoyoga. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Yoga for Healing," by Melissa B.Williams, Fit Yoga, February, 2006, p.22
  15. ^ Baginski, Laura (January 8, 2003). "Be a swinger ; Treadmills have you running in circles? Try these offbeat ways to get in shape". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  16. ^ Ana Forrest, "Choosing Healing is the Ultimate Warrior Action", Origin Magazine, December/January 2012, p. 22
  17. ^ Sadtler, RYT, BJ. "Understanding Your Shoulders". Yoga Chicago. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  18. ^ "Healing PTSD Through a New Kind of Yoga", by Ana Forrest, HuffPost, May 15, 2011 [4]
  19. ^ Ana Forrest, "Choosing Healing is the Ultimate Warrior Action", Origin Magazine, December/January 2012, p. 23

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