Monday, January 14, 2013

Medicine Women: Ana Forrest & Dr. Sara Gottfried in Berkeley

I ordered yoga teacher extraordinaire Ana Forrest's book "Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit" when it came out a little more than a year ago. While I've looked to Ashtanga Yoga practice as my go-to healer/igniter of mind/body/spirit for more than a decade, I was intrigued by Forrest's story and approach to yoga. Part memoir, part guidebook to the basics of her own Forrest Yoga system, the book details a heroine's journey, telling brutally honest tales about overcoming horrific childhood abuse, epilepsy and a paralyzing accident through yoga practice,  Native American Medicine Wheel and sheer determination. It's quite an inspiring tale.
So I was excited when fellow Ashtangi and local teacher Mary Beth Ray announced that Fierce Medicine would be the book of the month for her Lit on Yoga Book Discussion Series at Berkeley Yoga Center and that the very same day, Ana Forrest herself happened to be speaking at Yoga Kula in Berkeley.
After discussing Fierce Medicine over chai with Mary Beth and several other yoginis, we went to Yoga Kula where Forrest was presenting  "Medicine Women Meets Medicine Women with her friend Dr. Sara Gottfried, a Harvard-trained gynecologist and author of upcoming book "The Hormone Cure." 
What a day of women's wisdom the afternoon turned out to be! The powerhouse duo complimented each other well: with Gottfried spelling out in (accessible) scientific and medical terms the affects of different stresses on our lives combined with Forrest's yogic and energetic healing approach. A big topic of the day was 'the shame response' and how it can shut down not only our thinking, but our bodies and lives, and countering it with 'the love response' through breathing and simple yoga exercises. They also managed to review thyroid health, addictions (and countering addictive reactions) and sequencing your day. Really fascinating. Whatever your practice or your lifestyle, if you're the least bit interested in well-being, I recommend looking up both of these women and their books. They both possess extremely useful and highly relevant information to share.

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