The Beauty in Forrest Yoga by Kristi Johnson



I discovered the beauty in Forrest Yoga in early 2010, when I was living in Hong Kong.

Ana would come to Hong Kong each year and teach workshops at the Asia Yoga Conference. I had experienced her sessions before, but it never spoke to me. Those long holds were just too boring in my reality.  I just wanted to move!

In 2009 I slipped a disc in my lumbar spine, and as a result had constant sciatica and excruciating pain down my whole left side for over a year.  It hurt to walk. I was struggling through my yoga practice and my teaching. My teacher at the time kept pushing me to lift into wheel pose, despite my best efforts to protest.  He said it was all in my mind, just fear, that I could do it, but my intuition told me something was horribly wrong.

I was in complete agony and my passion for my practice was quickly dwindling.  As a result I began to live in a way that numbed out my physical discomfort and allowed me to avoid the feelings that came with feeling hugely detached from my greatest passions, yoga and teaching. I was a mess.

It was early 2010, during one of Ana’s visits to Hong Kong, that I decided to give Ana and Forrest Yoga another go. She was teaching a ‘Heal Your Back Workshop’ and by this stage I was open to trying just about anything in an attempt to get myself back on my path.

During that workshop, much of the discomfort that I did feel around my injury slowly dissolved as I miraculously made my way into small back bends without pain. Simple exercises like ‘Telescoping the Ribs’ and the emphasis on core and elongating the lower back proved to be miracles. For at least a year even cobra was such a struggle for me.

What was different within my experience here is that I was offered tools to work with my injury, rather than being told how to do something and push through it regardless of how it felt. I felt listened to, and with that supported.

Later that year Ana returned to teach her Advanced Teacher Training, which is nine days of training for experienced teachers to deepen their practice and refine the way they communicate as a teacher. I figured nine days wasn’t such a huge commitment, and it was right on my doorstep, so there was nothing to lose from signing up.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened in those nine days. There was definitely some serious physical, energetic and emotional unraveling that occurred.  I was most inspired by the feeling and relief at being able to practice pain-free. One of the things that I value most about the Forrest Yoga practice and the way of assisting is that there is so much room for exploration, as a teacher and as a student.  This is because there is so much flexibility around how a pose is done, and how a practice is carried out to support the individual experiencing it. As a student I felt free to communicate my feelings and my needs, and most importantly that was listened to.  A pose was adjusted again and again until it was working for me pain-free, and I value that. It was quite the discovery after having pushed myself through such discomfort for so long.  I found an authenticity in myself, and in Ana Forrest that I had not yet witnessed.

I came away from that training knowing that something huge had shifted within me, physically as well as emotionally.  I made it my mission to save up for the Forrest Foundation Training the following year in Houston, Texas.

Four years later and Forrest Yoga is still the foundation of my practice. I love the sequencing, the Core Work, the emphasis on breath and feeling in the poses. I love the pace, and the fact that it is so strong but so mindful at the same time.  I am able to utilize the strength, flexibility, and stability that I gather from my practice, and inject it into my teaching and life. I am constantly inspired by the challenge that this practice, and all its teaching presents, on my mat as well as in the big wide world.

MFML - KristiExperience Forrest Yoga yourself. Join Kristi for a class online.

Kristi believes in working hard, but working mindfully and is committed to empowering others to find strength and integrity on and off the mat.

A certified Forrest Yoga Teacher, Kristi first discovered yoga when she was working as a Youth Worker in her native country, New Zealand. She traveled to Hong Kong and China in 2003 where she explored more deeply the physical, emotional, and spiritual practice of yoga.


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