A Forrest Yoga Carol

With the holidays upon us, I thought I would share this little ditty I wrote a couple of years ago, inspired by my teacher, Ana Forrest. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Ana Forrest’s Comin’ to Town (sung to the tune of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”)

You better watch out
You better not bail
Better not pout
I’m teling you why
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

She’s teaching some abs
And doin’ ’em twice
Gonna find out who’s [not] breathing or tight
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

With little foam blocks
And firmly rolled mats
Sweaty sweat sweat and poses with straps
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

With passion and strength
No coddle nor coo
Chanting and touch
Fierce medicine too
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

She sees you when you’re spacing
She knows when you’re not awake
She knows if you’re in struggle mode
So sparkle up for goodness sake!

SO

You better watch out
You better not bail
Better not pout
I’m teling you why
Ana Forrest’s comin’ to town

santa yoga

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

When you’re 3/4ths Irish, your middle name is “Erin”, and St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, well, spending time with your very close (and quite huge) extended family just makes sense.

leprechaunsLeprechauns old and young and in-between gathered today to watch my cousin’s college baseball game. The ball player’s name? You guessed it…Patrick.

I was dragging a bit today, feeling tired and a little overwhelmed by all there was to try to get done in the weekend and lamenting that there weren’t enough hours to do it all. Yet outside of my head, it was a beautiful sunny day, green mustaches and Irish swag abounded, and our family chatted and crowded the bleachers. In spite of myself, I had to marvel at my luck ‘o the Irish to be a part of such a crazy, wonderful clan.

And speaking of being cheered up, this little bit of Irish Yoga humor never fails to make me chuckle. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

irish yoga

Do You Know Your Forrest Yoga ABCs?

abcsIt’s an altogether different kind of alphabet…

A is for Abs, naturally. A is also for “always”, as in, “Abs are always in a Forrest Yoga class.”

B is for Breath. Hands down, the most important part.

C is for Crotch, crotch, crotch. Yes, Forrest Yoga will say the word “crotch”. Yoga is about another C-word: connection. You connect to all parts of your body. That includes the crotch. So get over the shock of that word in a yoga class. Crotch, crotch, crotch.

D is for Deeper. You will go deeper into yourself and poses than you ever thought possible.

E is for Evolution. Not evolving is not an option in Forrest Yoga.

Fierce MedicineF is for Fierce Medicine. It’s what Ana delivers and it’s the title of her book. If you haven’t read it yet, now is the time.

G is for gravity surfing. You’ll know why you do all those abs when you can start doing some awesome arm balancing action from one pose to another.

H is for Healing. It doesn’t matter if your injury is a strained hamstring or a broken heart; you can use Forrest Yoga in the healing process.

I is for Intensity. Because breakthroughs don’t come from lying around. It takes intensity to move through issues in the body.

J is for Juicy. ‘Nuff said.

K is for Kick-Ass sequences. One of the major ways Forrest Yoga is unique is in its sequence which is designed to strengthen, heal, and delight.

L is for Lance Dodger. Have you met him?

M is for Mending the Hoop of the People This is the mission behind Forrest Yoga and Ana’s work.

N is for Native American spirituality. Forrest Yoga has deep roots in Native American spirituality and medicine.

O is for Opening Up. Tight areas of the body will open up and so will your heart.

P is for Paying Attention. The hardest part of the practice is it demands that you pay attention and be present in feeling.

Q is for Quantum Leap. When you stay with the work, these have a way of appearing.

R is for Rolled-Up mat. An essential Forrest Yoga prop that will surprise you. Who knew a mere roll could add so much intensity?

S is for Spirit. Yes, S is for strength and stamina, but way more important is a central pillar of Forrest Yoga: connecting to your spirit.

T is for Tie-Dye pants. An unofficial Forrest Yoga prop. You can usually spot a Forrest Yoga teacher by the tie-dye pants.

U is for Up=level. Just when you didn’t think there was another way to bring a pose to the next level, Ana pulls out yet another way to up-level.

V is for Victoria Keen. Victoria’s clothes are also becoming unofficial Forrest Yoga attire (I like that she has small sizes and the pronunciation of her last name).

windhorseW is for Wind Horse. Wind Horse is the annual Forrest Yoga conference, now in its second year.

X is for X-ray eyes. Ana is incredibly skilled in seeing energy. Take some classes with her and you will likely be wondering if she does indeed have x-ray eyes with what she can perceive.

Y is for Yowl. This is maybe the only type of yoga in which I’ve been encouraged to howl away in unison. It’s amazing what you can let go of when you yowl away.

Z is for Zero chance. As in, “There is zero chance you won’t be challenged and changed by Forrest Yoga.”

Now you know your Forrest Yoga ABCs, next time, I hope you’ll practice with me (in spirit, if not in person).

 

Giants Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an exciting week in San Francisco with the Giants sweeping the World Series. San Francisco was a blob of orange and black on Wednesday as thousands gathered for the victory parade. Giants merchandise abounds. Bakeries carry Giants cupcakes. MUNI buses have “Go Giants” signs.

Clearly yoga needs to get in on the action too. Celebrate the World Series champs with these Giants-inspired poses:

1) The Pre-Practice Warm-Up

Emulate the Giants pre-game ritual! Before you roll out your yoga mat, gather with fellow yogis and surround your yoga instructor. Bop up and down, whoop, and throw sunflower seeds over each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Bat in a handstand homerun

Face towards the wall. Channel your inner Panda. Using the strength in your core, exhale and bat your leg up. Don’t worry if you have a little extra heft on you; it might just help you power your leg up. Aim for up and over the wall (but just on it will do for yoga). Repeat three times in the same class. Oh, and when you hit the handstand home run? You can look this happy too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Diving Amazing Catch Pose (aka One-Legged Bow Variations)

Image credit: Sports Overdose

Lie on your belly and come up on the forearms. Stretch your right arm up as if you were about to catch fast-moving baseball. Use your left forearm to help you lift. Extend the left leg and bend your right knee and lift the foot. Keep a strong lift in leg and the arm. Gregor Blanco would be proud.

4) Don’t Stop Believin
Patiently listen to everyone say it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to meet a challenge in your life. Have them point out the odds against you. Deal with their skepticism. Then prove ’em wrong!

Go Giants!

 

Beauty Tidbits of the Week

Reporting in here on your Sunday for a round-up of fun, interesting, and good reads around the web. Enjoy!

 

Keeping Our Minds in Practice: An Interview with Yogini Carol Horton. ~ Mary King
[side note: I just discovered Carol and am eager to read more of her writing and upcoming books.]

How To Ensure You’ll Do Anything

What’s Your Yoga Name? (via Yoga Dork)

Top 10 Ana-isms from the Wind Horse Conference

Photo credit: Forrest Yoga

10. Forrest Yoga is about feeling

9. If you’re leg is quivering, congratulations! You’re moving energy.

8. Ask yourself, “What can I do in the pose? What part of this pose can I do?”

7. Yes, I said put the block on your crotch. Crotch, crotch, crotch

6. Those of you cranking your neck up to the ceiling, this is a particularly ugly ceiling to look at. Nothing to see here. Relax your neck

5. Don’t try to do it perfectly without a mistake because that would be a mistake

4. Many of us look for other people to do us. Learn to do yourself. You can take that however you like.

3. Some of you are using your neck to get in the pose. Good try, but wrong set of muscles

2. Re-shaping your mind is one of the best kinds of flexibility

1. When you are feeling like you aren’t enough, can you accept that for the mental racket it is? It’s just not true. Let where you are be enough.

 

You can check out some of my past Top 10 Ana-isms here and here.

6 Ideas for the Yoga Barbie Line

It had to happen. Now that there’s Yoga Teacher Barbie, why should Mattel stop there? I have all kinds of suggestions for the next dolls they can add to a whole line of Yoga Barbie dolls.

1. Forrest Yoga Barbie: Barbie does endless abs dressed in a bright top, tie-dyed pants, and wrist supports. Comes with a rolled-up mat.

2. Trendy Yogi: Clad in Lululemon pants, wick-away, bamboo top with matching mat bag. And of course, she’s got her coconut water.

3. San Francisco Skipper: This urban girl on the go has all the gear she needs for yoga in her Whole Foods cloth tote. Includes flip-flops, iPhone, and lower back tattoo.

4. Tight-Hamstring Ken: He’s got the outfit and the props to help his buff, but inflexible bod: athletic shorts, tank top, and realistic beads of sweat. Comes with multiple blocks, strap, and blanket.

5. Shakti Power Barbie: She’s got her ganesha shirt, harem pants, mala beads, and dreadlocks. Singing bowls trance dance CD sold separately.

6. Bikram Barbie: Those skimpy shorts and bra top of hers are hot for hot yoga. Comes with multiple towels. Rolls royce not included.

Do you have other ideas for the Yoga Barbie line?

Pretzel Sticks for Public Speaking

When I was in kindergarten, each student who behaved and did not have to sit in time out received a pretzel stick at the end of the day. Pretzel sticks were a popular snack at my house so I used a similar tactic to coerce my younger sisters into playing school with me. I’d bribe them with pretzel sticks to get them to complete their assigned “homework”.

Fast forward twenty or so years when I became a teacher of another kind: a yoga instructor. After finishing my initial teacher training, I landed my first real teaching gig. Needless to say I was petrified. Teaching a group of paying students was a far cry from the practice teaching I’d done in my training.

I confessed my nervousness to my youngest sister who had some great advice for me. “Megan, just pretended you are teaching school to us when we were little and promising us pretzel sticks.” I laughed, but wouldn’t you know, this trick really worked.

To this day, whenever I’m scared or apprehensive about a new or challenging teaching situation, I think about pretzel sticks. I can then connect back to the enthusiastic teacher I was in childhood, perfectly at ease with her students. Then I seek to bring the same confident, exuberant (though hopefully less bossy) manner into my yoga teaching.

What tricks do you have for calming yourself before teaching or speaking in front of a group?

Comedy vs Yoga

My brother, Sean Keane, is a very funny guy (if you think I’m biased, just ask the SF Weekly). Today is Sean’s birthday, so it has me thinking about Sean and comedy. Building a career as a stand-up is a tough one. It takes no small amount of guts and hard work to show up at various settings where stand-up comedy takes place: laundromats; sketchy nightclubs; college auditoriums, and eventually on to the top local venues (in the bay area, these being the SF Punchline and Cobbs Comedy Club).

I have proudly watched Sean’s career move from many of the former to the latter venues and frequent out-of-town gigs.  More than once, I have admired how Sean gets on stage again and again. When I first started teaching yoga, it was petrifying enough to be teaching a group of people. I could not imagine the pressure of standing on a stage and making people laugh.

It got me thinking about the parallels between stand-up comedy and teaching yoga. Both require public speaking, some advance preparation, and ability to improv and play to the energy of the crowd. Here is a point-by-point comparison of comedy and yoga, determining which one has the advantage for each aspect of the job:

Objective:
Comedy: Keep people laughing
Yoga: Keep people breathing
Edge: Comedy (if you are Sean)

Average Set Time:
Comedy: 10-45 minutes
Yoga: 60-90 minutes
Edge: Draw. If you are eating it on stage, you do not have long to win back the audience. On the other hand, you only have to sink for a brief time before the set is over. If you’re teaching a yoga class that is not going well, you have time to turn it around for the better. On the other hand, it might be a long class…

Training:
Comedy: Endless open mics
Yoga: Minimum 200-hour registered program
Edge: Yoga. I can’t think of much scarier things than continually getting up on stage at open mics.

Audience-Enhancing Beverages:
Comedy: alcohol
Yoga: coconut water
Edge: Comedy. Plus alcohol tastes much better than coconut water.

Physical Interactions with Crowd:
Comedy: Aggressive heckling
Yoga: Hands-on adjustments
Edge: Yoga. Why is it some people do not realize what happens when one chooses to sit in the front row at a comedy show?

5-Minute Wrap-Up:
Comedy: People in drunk, happy laughter
Yoga: People in savasana
Edge: Draw. Generally it’s easier to get people to laugh than it is to get them to relax. But if you’re Sean, the laugh part is not a problem.

Happy Birthday Brother Sean!

The 5 Cat Reactions to Yoga

When I practice at my home, my two cats are generally somewhere around. Since their days revolve around napping, eating, and more napping, they usually have some sort of reaction when yoga time begins. Their response to my practice is never what I expect, but can be generalized as follows:

1. Indifference Yawn. What is this that’s happening across the room. I’m confused, why on earth would someone do these strange moves? Most perplexing. Whatever. I can’t be troubled to move from my lovely sunny spot by the window to investigate any further.

2. Curiosity My goodness, what is this rubbery thing you have unrolled? I must go on it. No, not the edge of it; right in the middle of it. It’s playtime!

4. Mischievousness It’s almost that time. Any minute now she’ll go up into a headstand and there’s my chance. Maybe she won’t notice that I went up on the forbidden counter to eat the plant.

4. Prop Playfulness The drawstring of the mat bag, quick, attack it! Ooohh, a strap to bat around. Will this block move if I knock it with my paw? That yoga blanket is an outstanding location for a nap.

5. Prop Emulation She’s lying back like a corpse. This would be a great time to settle atop her stomach. Or maybe on her thigh that looks a bit tight.  Sandbags ain’t got nothing on kitties!