Coming from a professional dance background I have grown up since a young age in a world of competition. In one way the competition was something I loved, because it forced me to work hard and face challenges. At the same time however competition made me feel very unhappy with myself, because competition feeds on the need to compare and the idea that you are never good enough.

Yoga teaches us that we are already our best self and that happiness comes when we fully connect to that authentic, blissful self. Happiness is not something to get from someone else or someplace else. However to discover the authentic self is a hard journey, which we ourselves get in the way of.

I remember the first time I walked into a forrest yoga class in London, it was with a teacher called Kristi. The class was very different from the usual classes I liked, which where fast paced flow classes. The forrest yoga class had a lot more space, yet still it felt like a very strong practise. We would hold postures for a longer time, but with a lot of detail to get deep into the body and into the psyche. The postures were in one way similar to the postures I knew from vinyasa flow, but they had been tweaked in a way that really made physical sense to me. Ana Forrest, the creator of Forrest Yoga, created poses to deal with modern bodies and the modern issues they have, like back pain, neck and shoulder tightness, weak core muscles and wrist pain.

I loved the way Kristi was leading the class in a very strong, honest way, with a lot of kindness. She would hold space for each student and give adjustments with real intent and precision, that were also soft and caring.

This is something I think is very specific to Forrest Yoga, where the adjustments are like bodywork—they work by reading energy, and the adjustments target the places where the flow of energy is blocked. Often these are the places where we are holding pain or often we have numbed those areas to somehow protect ourselves. Sometimes we don’t realise an area in the body is blocked until the teacher places their hands on that spot and asks you to send your breath and awareness there. In forrest yoga there is a focus on healing those energy blocked areas and making those different spots in the body come back to life. A large part of the Forrest yoga practise teaches us to feel deeply, which was a huge difficulty for myself as I am very much a visual person, which I think had a lot to do with my competitive career and my habit to compare myself with others.

When I did the Advanced Forrest Yoga Teacher training with Ana Forrest the focus was on being first of all honest and to speak the truth — Satya. We had to speak to the whole group of other trainees and Ana openly about our pasts, habits, triggers, traumas and fears. It was interesting that when we speak openly about what haunts us, what we are ashamed of or scared of, it becomes much easier to let go of.

Throughout the Forrest Yoga training we would do a 3.5 hour morning yoga class, with the emphasis on feeling whatever happens in the moment. To not run away, give up, numb or just push through, but just to feel for whatever it is we are feeling at that moment. Throughout a yoga practise memories, feelings and thoughts will be triggered, just like in normal life and if we can become more conscious of them we can choose how we respond, in an honest way, rather than just reacting the way that we are programmed to react; give up, numb or fight.

A typical Forrest Yoga class usually starts with setting an intention for the class, so through out the practice we can come back to that and even take it off the mat into the rest of our day. The class will then guide the practitioner through pranayama, core exercises, Sun salutations, leading into sequenced asana’s that builds up to the peak pose.

In my new upcoming Forrest Inspired Flow class I will integrate a lot of the forrest yoga poses and the skills I learned from Ana Forrest and her guardian Forrest Yoga teachers to create a fun, honest and devoted practise. This level 2 class will explore more advanced postures, but we will practise them in different ways and with different options and levels for the poses, so that each practitioner will always have something they can do.