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  • Yogi of the Week: Cristina

    Meet Cristina.

    Sitting behind a desk in a stressful job, Cristina found herself daydreaming about a different life. Her head kept wandering to her yoga practice. Thinking about that sound of sweat hitting the mat got her through those days. Then she saw her uncle lose his battle with cancer, she realized how short this precious life could be, and ultimately found the courage to quit her job and make her daydreams a reality.

    Cristina never expected that yoga would inspire her to want to give so much to others. She has lost two aunts and her uncle to cancer, now her mother is currently fighting breast cancer for the second time – this is why Cristina wants to devote her time to running retreats for cancer patients and survivors. She wants to help them heal and realize how strong they are.

    Cristina feels lucky that she has been able to have her two favorite companions by her side along the way: Noah and Jack. They come with her on every road trip through Ontario, standing guard during all of her yoga breaks. They are the inspiration behind her downward dog, as Noah and Jack are, in fact, Cristina's dogs.

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Sheri

    Meet Sheri.

    Sheri is a mountain-thrashing, nose-grabbing, 360-spinning snowboarder (metaphorically). But a serious injury to her upper left leg kept this Betty off the slopes and brought her to the yoga mat. Unable to walk without pain and with limited mobility, Sheri focused on her yoga practice. After one dedicated year on the mat, Sheri's pain was gone and her mobility back. That's the power of, as she puts it, "yoga magic."

    That's also why Sheri is studying to become a yoga teacher - where the hospital couldn't help her recover, her yoga did. And as an unexpected benefit, she also found a deep sense of community and kindred connection. Sheri travels often and has studied with many yoga teachers, and every single one has left her with something to remember – from a helpful tip for Pigeon to sage wisdom to a happy memory. These are her inspirations.

    Yoga has moved Sheri to always make the choice that she knows is truly right. Not easier, not cheaper, not quicker – but the option that brings her to a place where she is happy with the life she is living and the person that she is.

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Gregory

    Meet Gregory.

    At 6’4, 230 lbs., Gregory spent much of his life worrying that he was in someone’s way. Concerned with how much space he was taking up, if the person behind him couldn't see - he just wasn't at ease.  With yoga, that anxiety is gone now. A dedicated Forrest yoga practitioner (with an 85" Black Mat PRO to boot), Gregory no longer hesitates to use as much room as he needs to feel free and move freely.

    Gregory turned to yoga after being laid off from his job — where he'd worked devotedly for 10 years. He experimented with as many styles of yoga as he could find, and felt most at home with Forrest yoga. Because of his size, Gregory had always subconsciously placed a ‘heaviness’ on himself and always assumed he’d never be able to do handstands or more advanced poses. What he discovered was that he could be both big and heavy, AND light and graceful. Ana Forrest once told him during a tough workshop, “you take care of so many of us, you are such a big presence and person… and so is the world! The world is huge and cares for all of us, yet it still floats in space, gracefully spinning.”

    Sometimes things happen for a reason. Gregory’s dedication to his yoga practice has "paid off" in a way he didn’t expect: he is now the Creative Services Director/Artist in Residence for the Forrest Yoga organization. He is feeling lighter than ever with the opportunity to combine his two passions, yoga and art.

    In addition to his practice and his career, Gregory is also committed to bringing yoga to the LGBT community. He volunteers through Street Yoga and teaches at SMYRC (Sexual Minorities Youth Rescue Center) in Portland. His passion for unifying and uniting the yoga community and the LGBT community is bringing new tools for transformation and new perspectives for beautiful consideration.

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Christa

    Meet Christa.

    Christa used to manage broadway shows for a living. That's how she found yoga.

    A musician working on one of the shows also happened to teach Iyengar yoga, and could sense the stress and pressure that Christa was under. He ended up offering her private instruction for close to 6 months – all he asked in return was that she ‘pay it forward’ to someone else in need.

    Christa took that request and ran with it. She has opened a non-profit organization called Compass Yoga, teaching free yoga classes in New York City to people who don't otherwise have the opportunity, or the funds, to begin a yoga practice.

    This past spring, Christa went on her first trip to India. It was an experience that broke her down and built her back up completely new, and more powerful. She now refers to her life in two eras: her life before India, and now her life after India. She returned home with a newfound gratitude for all of the opportunities she has available to her, and feels more determined in her purpose to spread the benefits of yoga and meditation to more people.

    Yoga has truly been therapeutic for Christa.  It has helped her to work through her father’s passing, and to let go of the guilt she still carried from their rocky relationship. Yoga taught her that we don’t have to wait for healing, it is within us and available to us all the time. We have all the answers and all the knowledge we need; we just need to tap into it.

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Jenn

    Meet Jenn.

    Jenn has no idea why she started practicing yoga so many years ago.

    One day, she wandered into a yoga class at her university’s gym, and admits that at first she didn’t really like it: “All the things the teacher was asking me to do seemed entirely out of reach. Still my mind? Twist like what? Stand on my arm and head? What the? But for some reason I kept going back, and I kept unfolding and growing and after awhile I stopped doing yoga and yoga started doing me.”

    These days, Jenn’s yoga practice is a "luscious love." She is heavily involved in Africa Yoga Project, an organization bringing jobs, improved health and leadership training to Africa's urban slums. What was supposed to be one teacher assistant opportunity at a Baptiste teacher training in Kenya in 2009 revealed her passions and new purpose. At a recent fundraising event in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Jenn helped raise over $50,000 for Africa Yoga Project and Children’s Hospital, someone told her it  was the most inspiring day of their life. That moment brought everything into a new light.

    Her practice has given her patience, deeper relationships, unexpected lessons everyday and maybe most surprisingly, a job!

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Jennifer

    Meet Jennifer.

    She completely accepts herself. Acknowledges her insecurities, bares her flaws and loves them all. But it didn't used to be like this. That kind of self realization comes with practice.

    For all that yoga has added to her life, maybe the most significant is what it took away: the judgment. "The first time I didn't judge myself based on those around me, the first time I practiced fully on my mat, fully with my breath.  All of that came together in a moment I didn't grasp until I left the class and realized I didn't judge myself for a full 90 minutes."

    She may have started yoga "to look like Madonna, of course," but her yoga became her path and her practice eight years ago, when she was both a new mom to her baby daughter and a daughter to her mom dealing with ovarian cancer. She learned a lot about the circular nature of life, and how to live fully present in the flow of it all. That is complete and total freedom.

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Grayson

    Meet Grayson.

    Grayson is in high school. He's 16 to be exact. That's pretty young to have suffered a terrible sports injury. After breaking his back training for his most beloved sport, Grayson knew that his future in football was over. When he recovered, he was left with a football-shaped void in his life. He tried a few other sports – rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and then yoga. Unlike the other physical activities, yoga helped relieve the back pain leftover from his injury. It became his new center – with mentoring support from his mother Stacey, a yoga teacher and studio owner herself. After just one year of yoga practice, Grayson enrolled in a teacher training and now is one of the youngest RYTs in the country.

    Before yoga, Grayson was 'a run of the mill jock,' as he puts it. He lived on protein shakes, used the weight room like a second home and couldn't touch his toes for miles. But yoga helped to break down all of his barriers -- while expanding his mind and body to places he'd never been able to reach, or even knew existed. It's been Divine.

    Grayson admits having been a little 'ignorant to what yoga is' – assuming it was easy, a lot of people sitting around and chanting weird syllables. What he got from yoga instead was patience, love for all things, a non-judgmental outlook on others and incredible strength (he thought he was strong before, but now he's really IN his body).

  • Yogi of the Week: Jessie

    Meet Jessie.

    Jessie ran away from an abusive household, and ran deep into the mountains of Montana. Feeling “nerved up,” she turned to yoga on the recommendation of her new neighbors. 7 years later, her practice is the “place” she goes to get herself over her fears.

    A lot of Jessie’s practice is about control – mind and body. Now her asthma doesn’t even bother her anymore. Yoga taught her to stand up for herself – and the world, from a place of responsibility instead of reaction. She has become an environmental steward, studying natural resource management alongside her husband, a timber faller. “Our world is like a garden; properly thinned, managed, and recycled the garden will flourish; left unchecked it will not thrive.”

    As she likes to say, "today is done. Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it. Live well and dwell little." Her practice has shown her how far she’s come, particularly from a difficult childhood, and empowers her to come to peace.

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Lashel

    Meet Lashel.

    Lashel started practicing yoga 10 years ago, and she says that she still learns something new every time she goes to a class. “That is what I love about yoga; the practice is never ‘finished’. There is so much to learn, and every teacher has his/her own unique qualities. I am inspired by teachers who understand that I am me, I am not like everyone else, and my practice is mine and doesn't look like everyone else’s.”

    She still remembers the first time she shared an OM with a large group of people in a yoga studio. She felt the vibration of those OMs running through her and for a split second, she felt almost frightened. Then all she felt was joy spreading throughout her entire body. Even now Lashel still gets a tingle of excitement just before the first OM in class.

    Lashel is passionate about taking care of the world we live in. She feels that the money we spend is our most powerful tool for change. “I try to think about the dollars I spend, and make them count for the things I want to see more of. I don't want my hard earned money to count for or invest in things that harm the world I live in.”

    Practice On.


  • Yogi of the Week: Rick

    This is Rick.

    He started practicing yoga to look inside himself. Ancient texts, meditation, asana - it was a study in his own true nature. One day in class he heard the words "open to grace" – and that's exactly what he felt. Tears rushed down his face, his heart blew open and his posture… totally fell apart. Eureka moments really can sweep us off our feet.

    Rick admits that he can be clumsy (he IS a human, after all), but yoga has given him the power to fearlessly look inside - to see the things that haven't awakened and acknowledge the parts that are loving, open and heartfelt. He found connection.

    What Rick didn’t expect to find through yoga is an amazingly supportive community. Being a member of this kula has shown him that there is someone there to hold you up - whether it’s in a handstand or in a hug. We are ABUNDANT here.

    Practice On.