Medicine Woman Meets Medicine Woman: Talking Shop with Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga
Posted on 28 February 2012
Ana Forrest is not your typical international yoga rockstar.In fact, she'd probably correct me if I called her a rock star, and insist that she is a modern Medicine woman. (Actually, as I get to know Ana better, I bet she'd be OK with me calling her a rockstar AND a modern Medicine woman.) Despite her somatic genius and genre-bending method of weaving our struggles, habitual patterns, and ways that we "depress ourselves in 30 seconds flat," Ana is quite humble about language. Not fancypants. (One more caveat...her yoga pants are rather fancy!) Ana brings fierce medicine to her teaching--I've noticed in my past 10 years of practicing with her at weekend intensives, and with her cadre of Certified Forrest Yoga Teachers, that Ana exudes true differentiation from other teachers.
Here's how.Ana Forrest's brilliance lies in many realms, but first I noticed is she can read what is happening emotionally for me in a yoga pose. She stood at my mat like a tiger when I started to space out (and think about my evening dinner plans). She noticed in a particularly challenging pose how I was powering my way through it, not taking the time and breathing in the deliciousness of it. Busted! She saw my overachiever patterning and called me on it. She could read my resistance to her admonition to track my groundedness with "active feet." Let's make this about you, not me. She knows in a class of 100 people when you stop breathing. She sees you struggle in a pose, and can discern your addiction to struggle. In short, she's got your number.
"Become the architect of your own pharmacopeia"-- Ana T. Forrest"Fierce Medicine" is what she offers, and I'm not making up that term. Ana happens to be the author of a book by that title, Fierce Medicine, an important synthesis of how to track fear and unravel habitual patterns that keep you down. Ana has extraordinary ability to get you back in your body, with all components working in the service of your sparkliness, your innate wisdom. She wants you to get out of first gear, which is where most of us get stuck, utilizing only our minds to guide our way of walking in the world. In her words, she wants you to be the "Architect of your own pharmacopeia."
Allow me to unpack that wisdom. Ana wants you to get out of first gear, which is that stuck place where we overidentify with the mind (and use the mind exclusively for how to walk in the world).Ana and I hold an alternative, expanded view for you--simultaneously very specific and scientific--that you can modulate your brain and body chemistry with your thoughts and behaviors. I would frame this is as follows: Ana's form of Fierce Medicine alters your physiology. Here's a small sampler of what's possible for you: lower your stress hormones, such as cortisol (the guy on the bus who takes up too much space and makes your life a drag), and boost your feel-good neurotransmitters, such as...
- dopamine - responsible for pleasure and satisfaction
- serotonin - governs your mood, sleep and appetite
- oxytocin - hormone (and neurotransmitter) of love and bonding