Wow - three hour class with Ana Forrest last night.
First, I have never been so close to the edge of panic during a class. Mostly, that was my own stuff - I had not practiced since Friday, on Sunday morning I had been too dizzy / woozy for my usual 8:30 class, and I had been out to Chicago and back for work on Monday and Tuesday. So I was not as limber, rested, and ready as I would have wished. A few times I was just kicking myself because I was dying on the mat, and what we were doing was not all that outside of my normal practice.
Ana brought with her a cadre of assistants - and I have never felt so supported and guided. We had nametags (mine ended on my mat, because my clothing was soaked through pretty quickly) and so the assistants would call out directions by name as well as come work with one directly. A lot like Shankara's classes, for me, in that he knows me and will spot my lifted shoulders or rigid neck from across the room, and is not shy to call out "Jude, let your head go"
Ana was a delight. I've heard the teachers in the studio speak of her in hushed / awed tones. She's awesome, no doubt - but not a person to be feared. I felt perfectly safe and comfortable in the class. And it was wonderful to see the line of influence - as I was conscious of postures, phrasing, or overall tone that I recognized in my own teachers - the way one says "And now....." when moving between postures, the way others do ab work. I felt a little like a geneticist, who has been studying a handful of species and finds a progenitor species - suddenly the common traits all make sense, and the individual characteristics are brought into focus for having seen the root material.
It was as if, I could have intuited Ana Forrest from the teaching styles and yoga styles of my teachers, who have worked with and been influenced by her. A good life lesson. I may never know the divine directly, but I can see the common characteristics of the divine in other beings.
I am so lucky to have been able to work with her. Not sure if I will have another opportunity - but I trust that working with her disciples at the studio is like working with her. I get it now.....and regardless of last night's three hour practice, that's worth it.