I have spent my Saturday simply being present with how I feel and I mean that on every level.
It has rained much of the day but I had already decided that not much else would occur.
On Thursday I caught the train to London, which always makes me happy. I love visiting and over the years I have walked my way round lots of different areas. I rarely use the Tube but have very recently discovered the joys of catching the bus! Due to work on the underground it was the only way to get to where I needed to be a few weeks ago. The bus helps me join up the dots! Sitting on the top deck of a London bus gives me a great vantage spot. I can actually see things and I now know where West Brompton is in relation to Kensington High Street.
As you can tell small things give me much pleasure..I delight in a good coffee whilst reading a great book. I’m a simple soul and I think that comes from living way off in the African bush with nothing to gaze upon but baobab trees. I remember being mesmerised by their grandeur and knowing how ancient they were only added to that delight.
Joining the dots to complete the picture seems very relevant today. Those of you who regularly read my blog may recall that I trained with Ana Forrest two years ago when she held her first European Teacher Training in Peterborough. She is about to begin her second training at Equilibrium and I wonder at how quickly the past 24 months have gone.
So back to my visit to London. Ana was teaching a series of workshops at Triyoga and I had managed to book onto one of them…
Upon completing my Foundation Training with Ana I felt a weird and wonderful mix of things which I have touched upon in previous posts. What is evident to me these days is how very strong I have become, both physically, mentally and emotionally.
I cannot recall the exact wording in the information about Ana’s workshops but I do recall ‘athletic’ and maybe ‘strong’ or ‘intense’. Throughout my life I have never, not once, thought of myself as athletic! I was the plump, solid child/teenager who did not really do running, jumping or sweating! However, I did swim for my school and county and I could easily ride and control various large horses, one of them being an ex-steeple chaser. So without really realising and acknowledging it I have always had a tremendous strength. It, therefore, is somewhat amazing to the small child deep within me that I signed up to Forrest Yoga. I and It discovered one another and it delights me to walk into a room where Ana is teaching. I feel at home and comfortable in my own body. There is no judgement at all. I can be myself totally even knowing that she is going to ask much of us.
The room is hot. The mats are very close together, which can be tricky for us Brits with our need for lots of personal space. We sweat, we mutter and groan! We are asked to find the pleasure in all we are doing. Move out of victim mode and for heaven sake never apologise!
Everything comes back to the breath. Deep, deep and long ujjayi breathing. Two and half hours of heat and hearing the ocean in my breath. Stray away into the far beyond and Ana or one of her assistants will be right there demanding you to stay present in your body even though the pain may seem unbearable.
Forrest Yoga is challenging. I love a challenge it would seem. To stay in half moon and then gracefully(?) move into standing splits sounds ok. However, to be totally present in each pose for all those breaths sets the limbs a-quivering and you need to pull out the stops and truly believe you can do it!
To be the pupil again is wonderful. It inspires me to go back and teach my Forrest class. It feels so important to pass on even a tiny bit of Ana’s teachings in order that others can discover their strength and really feel how and who they are. Forrest Yoga is so much more than I first thought.
Last Friday I heard a gentle voice asking me to lift more into my left side as I moved from Down Dog to legs up the wall. This was all leading to handstands…my absolute horror is hard to explain and understand, but very real. I am terrified of being upsidedown! Hands softly encouraged my hip to lift and I wondered which of the assistants it was. I lifted a leg away from the wall and was simply there with my toe touching the solid, comforting surface of the wall. I then realised that it was Ana and she was supporting my pelvis in such a way that I was suddenly free! ‘Gill, you are so strong. Use that wonderful strength and lift. I am barely touching you.’ Fairly gracefully I eased down. Wow I did it! But not content with that Ana then talked me through stepping into a handstand and again she simply held me softly in place. I have a history of handstands with Ana and every time she asks me to do one I set aside my fear/terror and up I go. It’s not always very graceful and it’s not always so easy but it is always a handstand. She knows I can do it and I know I can do it and the feeling of actually being up there is something quite, quite splendid!
It needs to be said here that there are several other poses that have eluded me! They are generally those involving arm balancing with serious control of my legs or total lack of it! I could simply sit back on my mat and say, ok enough is enough, but one of the major learnings I have absorbed by practicing Forrest Yoga is that all things are most certainly possible if you are taught well! If you are given clear, concise instructions and simply keep on giving it your all then, who knows what delights there are still to be discovered!
I was 56 years old when I attended my first Forrest workshop. I now teach my small (slowly growing) and very keen Forrest students. I often sit and ponder where my life will lead me as I move towards my sixtieth year, but really all I need to do is breathe, get on my mat every day and keep on learning and really seeing all before me. It as simple as climbing on to the top deck of a London bus and having the dots joined up, well not quite but hopefully you get the idea!
The journey never ends and there are new connections and revelations to be experienced whenever we are ready for them. Learning from Ana and other Forrest teachers I realise I will never be too old to fascinate upon my yoga practice. And just possibly I will get up into that handstand!
May We all Walk in Beauty.