Focused Forrest yoga with Finlay

I recently attended my first weekend with yoga teacher Finlay Wilson (aka Internet sensation the Kilted Yogi) in Glasgow and it was an invigorating immersion into his approach which is predominantly a Forrest yoga practice, and I recognised elements of ashtanga and the props of Iyengar. (On looking into Forrest yoga I see that ashtanga and Iyengar styles are both noted as influences on Ana Forrest who created Forrest yoga.)

As I’d not been to any Forrest yoga before a couple of things were new to me, such as the relaxed neck in many poses, although the four pillars of Forrest yoga (as set out by Ana Forrest) are not intrinsically new to me (breath, strength, integrity and spirit). There are apparently seven ‘basic moves’ used in Forrest yoga and these also featured during each session. We also practiced quite a bit of uddiyana bandha, and beneficial wrist exercises.

The weekend comprised four sessions of 2.5 hours. These were: Warrior of light; Feast for the soul; Illuminate your heart; and Journey to the core. During these 10 hours there were plenty of drills to prepare and teach the body various things (and lots on the abdominals!), plenty of movement and peak poses, and lots of charm and humour from Finlay, who is a truly lovely person.

Yoga room with mats on floor

Before session 2 – the cylindrical rolled mats are for abdominal drills!

It was a small group and I surprised myself by realising at the end of the weekend that I’d been incredibly focused when on the mat, rarely registering what others were doing. I can be a bit nosy when in a class so this was perhaps a reflection of the focus and intensity of the sessions. I was concentrating so much I rarely had time to write anything down, and my post-session scribbles now no longer make much sense! In an intense immersion you might realistically only remember a few things, and I particularly enjoyed experimenting with the ‘pull’ version of cobra, rather than pushing with the hands, and various arm balances, several of which were new to me. Finlay was assisted by partner Alan on day 1 and Farrah on day 2 so we had plenty of attention.

Find out more about Finlay on his website with links to various social media channels, and learn more about his yoga with children with special needs and his campaigning around (male) mental health issues. He also has lots of videos on his YouTube channel if you fancy practising with him but don’t live near Dundee, and more on his Kilted Yogis Facebook page where you’ll see he combines Forrest yoga with yoga in a forest to great effect. Infact, this was the start of the viral Internet video hit of outdoor yoga in kilts (with a slightly NSFW ending!). He’s also teaching on the first Scottish Yoga Conference in September in Dundee if you want to experience his yoga teaching in person. Highly recommend.

The weekend was also a lovely chance to meet up and stay with old friends, and to eat at Glasvegan for the first time before travelling home – can also highly recommend!

PS If you want to watch a medley of some of the instructions for some of the arm balances, check out this video on his Facebook page.

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