Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On Forrest Yoga

I hate Forrest Yoga.

Let's back up a minute. Recently one of my friends was trying to convince me that I should add Iyengar to my practice, and I told him no, I hated it. Too much fussing around with props - it's so slow and yet it's not meditative - and there's no reason you can't get alignment in a faster-paced class, like anusara. Still, I gave it another shot and found that I still didn't like Iyengar. At. All.

So when I signed up for a cheap month at Om Factory, I went to a Forrest class without knowing what I was getting into. I knew it was created by Ana Forrest and it went on a little bit too much about spirituality for my taste. If I had known more, I never would have bothered going. In fact, if I had read that people cried, I probably would have moved to Jersey just to be safe.

For a class that is slow-paced, doesn't contain a lot of advanced poses, and is more static than flowing, Forrest is incredibly hard. Iyengar bores me; in Forrest, I wonder when the suffering is going to end. (For the record, I've seen some descriptions of Forrest as "vinyasa-style," but that does not mesh at all with my experience. You don't flow between most poses, and you hold every pose for many breaths.) It's more meditative than Iyengar, too - at least, there's room for some oms between the ows.

Lately, I've been having some discomfort in my low-low back, around my sacrum. While it hasn't stopped me from doing anything, it has bothered me. After all, I've always been of the arrogant opinion that anyone with back issues either had been in some kind of accident or just didn't take care of themselves, and I haven't been in an accident. When I told Emilia, Om's Forrest teacher, that a pose was bothering my back, she poked and prodded at me and then had me modify it - not to make the pain go away, but to start fixing the problem - and not just in that pose, but for the rest of the class. I'm afraid to tell her that my right ankle bothers me at times for fear she'll fix that, too.

In short, a Forrest class is an hour and a half of pure suffering. It's comprised of nearly everything I'm not looking for in a yoga class. Go back to crescent pose instead of warrior I? Embarrassing. Not even begin to bend backwards in camel because I can't keep my pubic bone on the wall when I do? LAME. I'd rather be doing vinyasa. I'd rather be reading. Honestly, I'd rather be cleaning the bathroom. I'd rather be cleaning someone else's bathroom. And yet I went home after my first class and immediately signed up for that class every week for the duration of my trial period, because my back already felt like I was holding it differently.

I hate Forrest because it takes almost nothing for me to break a sweat. I hate it because it shatters my illusions about how advanced a yogi I am. I hate it because I can't get away with any kind of shortcut. I hate that I come out of it more sore than after an ashtanga class. I hate that it's exactly what I need.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Turducken (to me)!
I am a Forrest Yoga teacher in SLC, Utah, and I loved reading this post. What you say is true on so many levels, except for the lack of advanced poses. I teach tons of advanced arm balances and inversions... So, if you get bored, try other teachers/studios and you will find that we're all a little different, even if we teach the same method. I intend to read more of you, soon. :) Brande

turducken said...

Thanks! Having taken some of this studio's other classes, I'm not surprised that this class doesn't do a lot of advanced poses.