What is an empowering woman? Immediate words that often come to mind are attributes like strong, courageous, genuine, and influential. But when you look up the actual definition of 'empower,' it means to make someone else stronger and more confident; to give power to another. That is what an empowering woman does above all else - she instills power, strength, and confidence in others.
We are surrounded by so many incredible woman at KiraGrace, and we want to share a piece of their stories and characters with YOU in the hope that they will empower you the same way they've done for us. We will be highlighting different women who inspire us, challenge stereotypes, and are just, well, fabulous!
For the 5th issue of our Empowering Women Series, we interviewed the extraordinary Ana Forrest. Ana Forrest has been changing people’s lives for over 40 years as she started teaching in 1974. An internationally recognized pioneer in yoga and emotional healing, Ana created Forrest Yoga while working through her own healing from her life’s trauma and experience. With thousands of licensed practitioners around the world, Forrest Yoga is renowned as an intensely physical, internally focused practice that emphasizes how to carry a transformative experience off the mat and into daily life.
We’re so excited to be able to feature Ana in our Empowering Women series, and we loved learning more about what inspires her both in her yoga practice and her daily life . . .
KiraGrace – If you could describe yoga in three words, which words would you choose?
Ana Forrest – Spiritual evolution tools
KG – How and why did you start practicing yoga?
AF – A girl I knew in school randomly said to me “I have something you can’t do.” I looked at her, she was petite, soft spoken, not athletic... I was training horses, Wild & trying to be tough... I took out a cigarette, tapped the tobacco in, lit it & said “that’s impossible." She offered to bring me to her yoga class. Weirdly enough I accepted. I struggled through every part, especially Savasana. That was the beginning of saving my own life. Microcosm; it was a dare. Macrocosm; Sacred Ones intervened on my fast-track to suicide.
KG – Who was your great mentor and teacher?
AF – My teachers: Earth, sky, stars, thunder, lightning, storms, animals, Sacred Ones, Wakan Skan (the Great Sacred, which moves in all things). I had to grow neuroreceptors for love. Love is one of my great teachers.
KG – What is Forrest Yoga and what makes it unique from other paths of yoga?
AF – Instead of comparing Forrest Yoga to other Yoga styles, let me tell you what Forrest Yoga is today:
Forrest Yoga is a powerful, therapeutic, internally focused practice. We teach you to Vision Quest for answers on the mat. From there, you up-level and take these transformative experiences off the mat and into your daily life.
I created Forrest Yoga while working through my own healing from my life’s trauma and experiences. I’ve woven into Forrest Yoga Native American Medicine, my understanding of the human body and psyche and my expertise in a range of healing modalities including anatomy, reflexology, pressure point therapy, craniosacral therapies, Shiatsu, chiropractics, regression therapy and hands on healing.
Forrest Yoga is evolving as you read this! It is a love co-creation between me and my husband Jose Calarco—musical Shaman (www.descendance.com.au)—aka JoseAna! Together we are changing the Spirit of modern yoga with our synergistic collaborations; weaving music, song, prayer, first nations’ philosophy and ancient Spiritual technologies into our Yoga events. Our musical Ceremonies are created from our vast life experiences and insights. We are teaching our people the art of self-empowerment and a re-connection to nature.
Jose and I are Spiritual Detectives.
KG – What has challenged you the most in your yoga practice? And what challenges has yoga helped you overcome?
AF – Part A — Initially, finding a reason to live and a purpose in life. Part B — Pain, injury, addictions, overwhelm, anguish.
KG – What is your mindset when you step onto your mat?
AF – When I start, my mind can be anywhere and then to focus my intent, I pick something that needs attention—like an injury—then connect to Wakan Skan. I uptake the sweetness of the poses as Spirit food.
KG – What do you want your students to take away from their practice with you?
AF – To have a renewed sense of hope and to build the capacity to care and love. To gather and use the tools for healing and evolving that we are teaching them. I want our students to grow the courage to make a difference in this world. For example, become Vegan, which will help balance the ecology of our poisoned world. No longer support the torturing and killing of animals and vitalize your own health. It’s fantastic to realize that we can make a difference every single day, every time we eat!
KG – What was the inspiration behind your book, Fierce Medicine?
AF – I wanted my life stories to help other people heal. My basic message to whoever is reading this is: No matter what happened to you, you can heal and have a Spiritually rich life.
KG – You use a lot of Native American medicine and practices in your work. What draws you to their particular teachings?
AF – The indigenous teachings feel honest and truthful, they resonate with my Spirit. Some of those teachings are:
- Connect to nature.
- Live with the awareness of being part of the Great Mystery
- Help the tribe
- Respect animals and all of Nature, they are the teachers.
The Native American Ceremonies help me to connect to my Spirit. That is why Jose and I weave the Shamanic musical Ceremony into Forrest Yoga. We set up a sacred arena for our people to have the greatest love relationship of their life… with their own Spirit.
KG – You travel all over the world sharing your teachings with the world. Do you have a destination that is particularly special to you?
AF – Turquoise oceans, mountains—especially Himalayas, forests, desert, Uluru, any wilderness and the star fields.
KG – Why is yoga important to the times we’re living in?
AF – Yoga is a powerful life tool, teaching us to take responsibility for our own evolution. We coach people to be courageous enough to make a healing difference in our world. That’s pretty sexy!
KG – What makes you feel empowered?
AF – Feeling my connection to:
- my breath
- my active feet
- my Twin Flame, Jose
- the purpose of our life work together
- the Cosmos
KG – What accomplishment of yours are you proudest of?
AF – Saving lives, including my own.
KG – Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
AF – I have many. Here are three that are actually in my code of ethics:
- “Evolve or Die” ~ Ana Forrest
- “Does this action brighten or dim my Spirit?” ~ Ana Forrest
- “Love is the Medicine for all afflictions” ~ Jose Calarco
If you enjoyed this blog, check out our others like: "Empowering Women Series: Sianna Sherman," "Empowering Women Series: Octavia Raheem," “Empowering Women Series: Christina Sell", and "The Art of Aging Gracefully: Issue 2."