Ana Forrest Intensives Day 1: Show Up and Breathe
Being sick was not how I envisioned starting off a week of morning intensives with my teacher Ana Forrest. In fact, I was pretty concerned the day before about whether I’d be able to do it. What I’d hoped was just a day or two of sniffles had turned into a full-blown bug. “All you need to do is show up and breathe,” I reminded myself. “All you need to do is show up and breathe.”
While blowing your nose after every other pose and holding off hacking attacks during forward bends isn’t the ideal way to experience a yoga intensive, it does have its lessons. Ana always says that “injuries are our greatest teachers.” If I extend that to having a cold, being sick for the practice taught me that when I mentally take the pressure off myself to do and instead show up and breathe, my practice actually deepens. I do not suddenly lose the ability to do poses that I used to be able to do. Nor is my practice ineffective or any less intense. It just doesn’t have that subtle overtone of “must accomplish something.”
The intent for the first day was to pick an area of the body to focus on sending breath and healing to. I choose the upper chest area where I was feeling a lot of congestion and mentally where I was having a lot of indecision about what direction I’ve been wanting to take my career and other parts of my life in. My intent coming into the week of practice was to remain open to what insights I was able to glean around this indecisiveness. Moving my body on the yoga mat is sometimes where I can find the greatest clarity around such bigger questions.
We worked into a number of inversions including working with a partner in handstand, handstand twisted root and forearm balance splits. Sometimes I like to guess from the warm-up poses what apex poses Ana might be building us up to, but today she kept me guessing. There were a number of poses in the beginning that we don’t typically do as often. I love that even though key elements that keep the integrity of the style are always there, Forrest yoga is always evolving and taking sequencing in different directions. When you’re a yoga teacher, one thing I think is so important about going to other teacher’s classes (especially one like Ana with so many years of experience) is that it reminds you about other poses. It’s easy to get into a rut of teaching the same main repertiore of poses and sequences. I love being reminded of some pose I hadn’t thought of in awhile or experiencing a fun sequence of poses that I then incorporate into a class for my students.
After class, I actually felt better from moving and breathing, but simultaneously also in touch with my body and therefore, aware that I needed to take it easy. As for my intention, I did hit on one clear message: “Don’t make any major decisions right now.” Congestion + lots of recent anxiety=not a good position to re-evaluate and overhaul life just yet. I’ll continue showing up and breathing for more…
Photo credit: Pictured is the amazing Forrest Yoga guardian, Ann Hyde