Forrest Yoga: Not just tree pose

There seem to be limitless types of yoga these days, with the latest forms involving wheels, hammocks and headphones (ie. Silent Disco Yoga!).

So of course, when you come across something called Forrest Yoga, it’s natural to think that a) it takes place in a forest and b) that it’s all tree pose.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s neither.

Forrest Yoga, which I’ve tried a few times now at The Yoga Room, is actually a newish form of yoga created by an American yogi,Β Ana T. ForrestΒ .

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Ana T. Forrest

From her website:

Forrest Yoga is renowned as an intensely physical and internally focused practice that emphasizes how to carry a transformative experience off the mat and into daily life.

“The practice challenges students to access their whole being and to use Forrest Yoga as a path to finding and then cleansing the emotional and mental blocks that dictate and limit their lives.”

From WIKIPEDIA, the style is founded on four principles, or “pillars”:

  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”

The class itself has a few fundamental differences from other yoga classes I’ve tried (which is normally Hot, Hatha or Vinyasa style):

  • No need to keep your head in line with your body (so you often let gravity pull your head down for a nice neck stretch)
  • Keep tailbone tucked to protect the lower spine
  • Rib expansion and wrapped shoulder blades towards the back (to open up the chest)
  • Deeper breathing than normal

Pace-wise, the class is definitely not as flowy as Vinyasa. It starts with some breathing exercises, followed by some static poses and then some sun salutations, ab work and then breathing exercises to finish.

Even though it wasn’t super intense, my abs certainly felt sore for a few days after.

Currently, Forrest Yoga is only offered once a week at The Yoga Room on Sundays at 10:45am to 12noon, and taught by a great teacher named Yan. She’s super friendly, approachable, flexible and fun, and makes everyone feel welcome and accepted no matter your level of ability.

She also has a hands-on approach where she’ll come around and help you get deeper into the posture, which was a nice touch (pun intended!).

I found out that she also teaches Forrest Yoga at a few other locations in Hong Kong, which you can find on her websiteΒ Yan Yoga & Nourish.

If you haven’t tried Forrest Yoga yet, I definitely recommend it!

(Top image credit: Yoga Journal)