In Ana Forrest's book "Fierce Medicine", she talks in the first chapter about her "fear training", i.e. she would deliberately do things that she was afraid of. She came to the conclusion that even though it was not possible to banish all her fears, she was able to make a choice to not allow them to rule her life.
When I was on holidays last week at the lake in Northern France where we always go, my 65 year old father did a backward somersault into the water. I remembered how I used to do this as a child. So, I decided to get up on the platform, which was about one meter of the water - with my back facing the lake. I could sense the fear; it almost made my head spin.
I first just jumped backwards into the water feet first and then did a couple of backward rolls in the water. Then I went back onto the platform and I stood there - very scared. I was feeling the fear in my entire body and there was a sense of paralysis and indecision creeping up on me, which in some respect was a great motivation for me.
I completely understand Ana's decision not to allow fear to rule her life, so I connected to my legs and feet, took several deep breaths, pushed off and did a backward somersault. It was not the kind that earns you points at gymnastics. It was definitely not pretty, but it was totally and utterly exhilarating. It was not about being able to do a somersault, which did not alter my life, it was about doing something that I'm very scared of. I felt the fear and did it anyways. In my mind possibilities opened up, I felt empowered.
Ana's steps to walking through the "spook zone":
... and do the somersault anyways.
Somersault in beauty
Even though I'm, of course, always in flux, I've been in a state of distinct re-orientation since summer of last year when I apprenticed the Forrest Yoga Foundation and Advanced Training. Afterwards, I was authorised by Ana to teach these programmes without her, but together with another guardian. There is only one other person in Europe who is authorised to deliver trainings at this level.
I had the clear feeling that I had reached a level where I wanted to be and where there were a lot of options. However, I have been unsure where to turn to next. Therefore, I've made a conscious decision to look at events and partnerships from a much more energetic, feeling and also heart place.
Does the energy flow or is there an incredible number of obstacles coming my way? Of course, the question is always: Is it a test or a sign, i.e. is it about overcoming the obstacles or is it a sign that I need to be somewhere else? Since I've been developing a more feminine approach to life, I've stopped pushing so hard and have been following the energy where it flows more organically, which is something that does not come natural to me.
I have been reminding myself to trust the process, that I'm exactly where I need to be and to keep my heart open and soft. My task has been to tolerate space when I have created it - instead of needing to fill it immediately when it opens up.
I encourage you to sit with the uncertainty and the unknown as we truly don't know how our process will unfold. Trust that things are in the right place unfolding at the right pace.
In Forrest Yoga when we call in the Four Direction, which is a way of calling on the support of the allies in the East, South, West and North, the element of water is located in the South. The qualities of the South are innocence, trust, healing and playfulness.
Like any of the elements, water can be on the one hand a very gentle and persistent force bringing about change slowly and being crucial for survival. It follows the path of least resistance as it flows down the mountains.
Over time it shapes and softens rocks. On the other hand water can be incredibly powerful bringing about transformational changes within seconds and minutes. Torrents of water in flash floods for example transform the landscape forever and can create devastation and death. I invite you to bring the qualities of water into your life embracing and enjoying the quieter transformational changes, as well as the rapid, immediately powerful and more dramatic ones.
Allow both softness and strength to be present within yourself and flow with what is.
I've been practising yoga since 1999 and I've been a teacher since 2004/05. I've mentored many Forrest Yoga teachers coming out of foundation trainings and taught numerous continuous educations. There are common themes that I've seen emerging throughout the years. One of them is the desire to make other people happy. I've also experienced this recently in my family and in myself more strongly.
My mum so desperately wants to make me happy and I want to make my mum happy that we end up doing things that neither of us really want to do. The truth is that we can't make another human being happy; that's outside our responsibility and power. Even if it is coming from the right place, it will create complications, stress and frustration. Subtly, what is also communicated to the other person is: "You are not ok. You need to be different." However, we are responsible for our own happiness and peace inside.
Ana Forrest talks about doing one thing a day that delights your spirit; something that makes you happy. What is the one thing for you today? Take responsibility for your own happiness.
August is a very big month for us at the Peterborough centre! We're very excited that Ana Forrest is here to teach her incredible month-long teacher training. We'll have 60 yogis and yoginis from all over the world who will be participating in this amazing event.
It also means that you will be sharing the space with many more practitioners than normal. We've made every attempt to keep things running as usual and to keep changes to a minimum. We had to cancel our Monday to Friday day time classes, but we still offer our Saturday and Sunday sessions.
Our evening timetable is unchanged - with some teacher substitutions. If you are craving some day time sessions during week, why not try our studio in Huntingdon? Classes there run as normal - again with teacher substitutions and passes and memberships are valid across both centres.
We hope you will support us in August by coming to class! We also offer free community classes in August. Please have a look at our timetable.
"You cannot live if you do not die psychologically every minute. To live completely, wholly, every day as if it were new loveliness, there must be dying to everything of yesterday, otherwise you live mechanically" . (J. Krishnamurti) .
Life is in constant flux and we are changing systems, interacting with other changing systems. To engage fully in this ever-changing world we need to let go of our habituated and conditioned self; in other words there needs to be a dying of the past in every moment. We can only respond authentically to what is in front of us if we are fully present and free of what has happened before. Being truly awake naturally results in finding our own rhythm and being in alignment with ourselves and the environment. When we are afraid of death, we are afraid of life. Each time we want to grow, we must leave behind the past moments.
If you want to explore this more, come to my workshop at The Big Web - a Forrest Yoga Conference, which will take place in September at Equilibrium. My workshop facilitates a state of presence within ourselves and in relation to other people by using meditation and partner exercises, including Ana Forrest's death meditation. Especially the death meditation will help you to clarify what is truly important in your life as opposed to what comes out of a state of non-presence and conditioning.
Yoga, well-being and mindfulness... always walk in beauty.