We recently had the opportunity to ask co-directors of Forrest Yoga, Ana Forrest and Jose Calarco, a few questions about Forrest Yoga, ceremony, and what’s important in their lives.
Q: What makes the asana practice of Forrest Yoga different from other styles of yoga?
Forrest Yoga is renowned globally as a powerfully physical, internally focused ceremonial yoga practice. In our unique style, we combine intelligent pose sequencing with a spiritual intent. We blend music, song, invocation, smoke blessing , storytelling, prayer, philosophy, and primordial and shamanic healing practices into each event. We teach the art of evolving the self and establishing a connection with spirit and nature.
Q: What is it like to attend a Forrest Yoga workshop? How does it differ from what most people might experience in their yoga classes?
Ana: What [Forrest Yoga] is for me, is going into ceremony, and the pose is the arena of exploration. Each student learns how to go on a vision quest for what they need for their next step. You, the student, work with your self esteem or lack there of it, you work with your energy blocks and emotional wounds. You work with where the energy has gone aberrant and bring it bring it to a healthy patterning. The energy could be scar tissue, injury, emotional pain, or driving yourself crazy in your brain. Together we help you work with all of it. I bring in the Medicine that I’ve earned so far in 45 years of teaching and Ceremony. For example, some of the ceremonial experiences I draw on are Sun Dance, Vision Quest, and Pipe Ceremony. We also incorporate various healing and therapeutic tools into our ceremonial weave of Beauty. We set an intent every single class to give students something personal to focus on. They learn how to begin this internal journey for healing, wisdom, and evolution.
Jose: Each yoga class Ana and I create is like a spiritual gathering (a Corroboree) a place of learning and healing. Our yoga serves all four parts of the human Structure, giving the body movement, the mind stillness, the emotions expression, and the spirit nurturing. Together we explore the possibility of moving from the ordinary to extraordinary.
Q: You’ve talked about how you’re now incorporating veganism into your curriculum; can you talk a little about why that’s so important to you and your 9 steps for conscious eating program?
A: Become a healthy vegan: contribute to your personal health, and help the planet to re-balance and heal. By becoming vegan, I no longer contribute to the torture and murder of animals. I don’t have to kill to live!
“Our main task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty” —Albert Einstein
J: There are three reasons to become vegan:
- Compassion. Factory Farming can be summed up as nothing less than a holocaust for animals. Profit has no conscience.
- Environment. * ECOLOGICAL COLLAPSE * Factory Farming and affiliated industries that produce meat and dairy products are primarily responsible for much of the planet’s global warming, climate change, diminishing land and fresh water supplies, dead ocean zones, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, rapid rate of extinctions, world hunger, and human health issues.
- Health. Factory-farmed meat is full of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, herbicides, and a whole range of nasty chemicals. 75% of all antibiotics now go to farm-feed lots for meat production. BUY ORGANIC whenever possible.
Q: What is it like working together, teaching together? You’re doing such intense healing practices in your teaching, what do you do when you want to just be Ana and Jose?
J: Working and teaching together is a gift, we are living our dream…teaching yoga and ceremony, travelling the world, and giving humans renewed hope—this is our mission. When we are Jose and Ana, we practice yoga, we play and record music, we stroll in nature, we sing, we connect to birds and animals, we eat vital foods…we create new content.
Q: What are your self-care tips for those like yourself who spend so much time and energy giving to others—how do you stay balanced?
A: All too frequently people put their self-care needs last. They need to re-prioritize: My friends, take good care of your precious self, eat clean, breathe deeply, clean your thoughts, no longer indulge in poisonous thinking, do yoga daily…then everything else you do will have the essence of that beauty pervading your actions.
Q: How important is nature and spending time in the natural world to a yoga practice?
A: More to the point is to ask how important are these things (being in nature, doing yoga practice) to the person? Essential. Nature restores us in a way we desperately need. When we connect to the truth of being part of nature we can align our actions to this greater wisdom. Walk in a park, feel the living Earth beneath your feet, sit with a tree. We love to sing and connect to nature.
Q: A message of hope comes up a lot when reading about you and your teachings—what is one thing you want everyone to take away from Forrest Yoga?
A: Breathe in this truth, you can make a difference in this tumultuous time of humanity. Stop poisoning yourself. Help us save this unique planet and your animal kin from extinction.
J: Everything you want is on the other side of fear, disobey the motherf—— in the mind!