Interview with Ana Forrest & Jose Calarco

Ana Forrest is an inspiration that has been changing people’s lives for over 45 years. She is an internationally-recognized pioneer in yoga and emotional healing. She is the creator of Forrest Yoga, a mystic, visionary, philanthropist, author, (of Fierce Medicine” ) and medicine woman. Ana crafted Forrest Yoga while working through healing from her own life’s traumas – abuse and addictions, and the ongoing suffering from chronic injuries & illnesses. The process of healing herself inspired her to teach others about what really works to heal themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Forrest Yoga is a powerfully physical, internally focused practice that emphasizes how to integrate the transformative experiences from the mat into purposeful daily life.

Ana’s husband, Jose Calarco, a musical shaman, embodies and brings to life ancient spiritual technologies, like Aboriginal culture through rich stories and song. He also teaches about the intelligence of the Vegan lifestyle. Forrest Yoga is now an exquisite collaboration between Ana and Jose who came together in a “Synergistic Collision” of cosmic proportions, integrating their worlds of Yoga, Music, Culture, Philosophy, Healing and Shamanism. They have transmuted Forrest Yoga into a sanctuary, where students learn to cultivate love and recharge their own sense of hope.

Today Ana and Jose are at the forefront of the Yoga world, guiding its evolution and future. Together, Ana and Jose teach people how to use the tools of Forrest Yoga to move out of numbness and connect to their own rich spectrum of feeling and purpose. If multidimensional thinking, wisdom, hope, creativity and life transformation is what you’re after, read on for our exclusive, extensive deep-dive Interview with Ana Forrest and Jose Calarco!

Hi and welcome, Ana and José! How are you? I heard that you just finished a Forrest Yoga course, how was that?

Ana: Yes, we just finished, it was fantastic. We got together in the morning for a play practice, the students are just glowing and determined to make their lives worthwhile and it just ended so gorgeously.

I can imagine it can go deep, doing a course for a month.

Jose: There are all sorts of shorter forms and some courses are over a couple of years, a weekend, a month, spread out, I do not like that. The cell structure has no chance to change, the student cannot retain the information when there are big gaps like that and they return to their counter-productive habits. With the month-long structure, they get a really strong basis. It is really, really deep, you have to be there to experience it! It’s combining both of our skills and our loves and it is quite ingenious.

Sounds excellent! Just to get your views briefly on the concept of ‘Keep Fit Kingdom’ if we may?

J: It’s good for the community you’re serving, and there’s definitely a place and a need for it, you’re doing a great job!

Thanks! What do you think of the name Keep Fit Kingdom (KFK) for short?

J: It’s a mainstream name, Keep Fit Kingdom suits what you’re doing to a T. You’re focusing on the word ‘fit’ without any spiritual, mental, or emotional context necessarily. Keeping fit is something that everybody needs, and they have to get fit, before they can keep fit.

Definitely. Our mission is to help a billion people reach 100 years of age happily and healthily, by the year 2100, what is your general impression of that?

A: If someone can live to 100, great. But if there is no purpose in their life it is an unfulfilled life. If you can get people healthy and also inspire a generous heart, to reach out to other people and do what they can to help the ecology, this gem of a planet that we live on, and balance the human relationship with the animal world, (which is totally distorted right now) then that’s great!

J: My father is 96 years-old, so he’s very close to 100, and no disrespect to my father, but he leads an unconscious life. Ana and I want people to live mindful lives. I would love to live to 100, because I am so busy that I need to live to 100 to get everything done!

I can imagine.


Ana, can you tell us a little about your background and what led you into yoga initially?

A: Well it’s 62 years of background! I was a horse trainer, I have a great affinity for animals, I love being in the wilderness. I started teaching yoga because I saw that I could only go so far by helping animals – a lot of them were really screwed up by humans. My thought was, if humans begin to heal and live in a balanced way, then animals will also get treated better.

I got into yoga through someone at school; she said, “I know something you cannot do!” She was a small, pale, quiet girl, a bit overweight, and I was an alcoholic smoker, training horses, I was very tough! So I said to her, “That’s impossible!” She said, “I can bring you to yoga, and you will get healthy and you will stop smoking!” And normally I would’ve said: “I don’t care!” I do consider this a sneaky intervention form the Sacred Ones to get me on the path to saving my life. So she took me to a yoga class.

Yoga Beginnings

She knew how to hook you in.

Yes. Part of what really made me jump into doing yoga, is that I’d tried suicide a number of times, and I failed at that – fortunately. Then I chose; instead of jumping off a cliff, (which was one of the many ways I had tried to kill myself) I choose to jump into life. To choose life, every time I had a decision to make, and compare that to the previous destructive ones I’d made, gave me a baseline to work with.

Yes, we’d heard about the suicide attempts. On one of your jumps you even made sure that there were rocks below, yet when you jumped there was a big pile of sand. Did that give you the push to think “I’m probably not supposed to go out like this”?

A: I wasn’t thinking very much at that point, but that was the path I took. I moved out of the desert, sold my horse and gave my brother the money to go to school and I saved enough to go to a residential training course. That is where I stopped drinking, stopped smoking, became a vegetarian and was doing yoga in a beautiful environment, with other people that were interested in yoga, instead of getting high. So that was a complete change, that was my leap, my jump into life!

That definitely sounds like the better jump.

So What’s Love, Really?

A: I’ve made many jumps since then. What I learned as I kept teaching yoga; I heard people talking about love, and I had no understanding of that. I started to ask and hunt “what is love? What is love really?” It wasn’t any of that New Age BS that I was always listening to. I found I had to grow the neuroreceptors for love, by contact with animals, and learning to love my students – that is what made it possible for me to get a big enough feel of love, to call in José. There is a whole magical element to us getting together and I’m really excited about what we’re doing.

J: My idea of love was a totally different thing than Ana’s. My experience of love was, without going into any of that New Age BS, a totality. I loved the river, I loved the trees, I loved the animals and it wasn’t just “Oh, I love my girlfriend, I have feelings for her”, but most relationships are actually deals! Like a contract: I’ll be faithful to you, if you be faithful to me. So let’s know that when we speak about love and truth, we’re only talking about the little fragment that we understand.

The difference between conditional love and unconditional love…

J: I’ve been in many relationships in my life. Yes, I cared for them, I had intimacy with them, I had feelings. But it wasn’t love. Because I thought that was love, I never realized it was just a fragment of a big word. I had one big feeling and was lucky enough to experience that, but I didn’t get that from any one-on-one relationship. It wasn’t until I had a total transformation myself, that I really could love myself first.

A: I learned to love the stars before I learned to love humans. Love comes and develops in its own ways. What I have seen in my life, is that it grows as I grow. Yes, there is the one-on-one aspect yet…José wrote a poem, which he put to music, that is the best encapsulation of love that I have ever heard. It is called “Love Poem”.

J: It’s a view of love that is outside the idea of just ‘relationship love’. So many are the ways of love.

You mean you had to build a foundation of love within yourself, otherwise you could not draw in your partner?

A: There is some truth to that. I learned to love others before I learned to love myself. Practically saying that you have to learn to love yourself before you can love anyone else is not entirely true. Loving myself came much later.

J: Love is such a big word, we only know fragments of the whole, just like truth. When someone is speaking truth, be aware we have a narrow perception. Let us understand we only know a fragment of the whole. So if we use words like love or truth, understand we are only talking of a fragment of a whole big concept. When someone says “I learned to love”, that doesn’t really mean they learned to love, we’ve learned in our fragmented perception, of what we thought love was. You must be free to let love in. There are so many barriers, like your own neurosis.

Forrest Yoga & Methods

What an insight! So, If I may ask, how did Forrest Yoga, which is 45 years young this year, come about?

A: Well, I was studying different types of yoga, but it wasn’t touching the problems that I had, like addiction, anguish, or even the injuries that I had. I had a lot of injuries when I came into yoga, from training horses, from abuse and a lot of different things. And so I started finding out how to bring in things that were helpful for me. I studied acupuncture, massage therapy, naturopathy, and got deep into Native American Medicine studies.

That was my heart post, my organizing principle, around which I formed Forrest Yoga. It was formed around things that I tried, that worked for me; like Triangle pose and Half Moon pose – poses gathered from the pool of yoga, which are wonderful.

Some of the philosophies were spot on, and others had no application to me so I had to drop those, because I don’t teach things that I don’t understand. It has to be true to me, or I won’t teach it. I was designing poses that would get right into the origin of my injuries, or at least would lead me deeper than the ordinary poses could. That was where the abdominals and the over-the-role poses, and many, many others of the Forrest Yoga poses I created were coming from. They were all based on how I was working toward freedom from this pain.

Yoga, Music & ‘Questing’ is Life’s Ceremony

So you work a lot more with music now in Forrest Yoga?

A: Yes! In Forrest Yoga now, José has a completely different lineage and learnings that he draws upon in the form of ceremony, with music, that I am not capable of. And he has a lineage with the Aboriginal people, from his own experiences as a faith yogi, that he brings in. Coupled with my experience, there is this immense richness of ceremony and questing for what is meaningful. Questing within the arena of a yoga pose, how to find healing or how to find freedom, whatever the intent is that we’re working on. So we use the poses in a very skilful and ceremonial way.

I see. Would you say, that with your combined experience of Forrest Yoga, and ceremonial music that one plus one makes five?

A: Yes, it’s synergistic. But it goes further, it is wisdom, it’s knowledge that’s been digested and that we now own. That is different than doing studies in any University.

When Forces Combine: Ana Forrest & Jose Calarco

J: The new Forrest Yoga is going into its 6th year. It is no longer just Ana, it’s a collaboration of the two. Yoga work is a place of learning and healing. And when I saw Ana’s yoga, I thought there will be changes. There needs to be changes, because in the yoga world in general there’s a lot of middle-class nonsense. There are way too many yoga teachers, and they’re not all going to be like Ana! There are the 22 year-old yoga teachers posing as spiritual teachers, because a yoga teacher should also be a spiritual teacher.

You mean they haven’t quite skimmed the surface yet?

J: They haven’t even skimmed the surface of life, yet they are teaching teacher trainings. Just like the New Age back in the 80’s, it was fraudulent! It’s okay if it’s just an exercise class, of course, then there are no worries at all

You mean, real yoga practise encompasses a whole lot more.

A: Yoga practise has been developing for decades, hundreds of years. It has aspects and gives guidelines in every area of life, it’s not just physical fitness. Because you cannot have physical fitness without tending to your nutritional strategy, or without tending to your thinking. Because how you think can poison everything, or change everything in a wondrous way.

J: Together we turned yoga classes into a corroboree (an Australian Aboriginal spiritual gathering often involving sacred rituals). We peel off the layers, and give people a real chance to connect to spirit. Therefore we need all the medicines combined with postures, music, breathing, ceremony, and emotions need to be expressed, the mind needs to be still and the spirit needs to be nurtured. Ana was already the most truthful out of all the teachers I had seen.

You mean, there’s no room for fluff or BS, go straight to the heart, whilst staying polite? (Both laugh)

A: I’m not very polite as a teacher. I don’t have time to dance around and use ‘politically correct’ ways of speaking. When I think someone is ruining his or her own life, I say, “You’re destroying your life, stop it now!” José is more polite than me.

In the class we go very deep, so if there are emotional entanglements inside from old emotions or in the archives of cell tissue, we go after that, releasing that is what we call true freedom. By the time it cannot operate or sabotage your life anymore, a student learns to see, “Hey this is running my life!”, and sees that this is the conditioned self, the damaged self. Let’s get right in there, here are the tools my friend, and understand that you need to be vigilant to no longer obey those ‘teachings’ that came from such a horrible place!

You mean the tendency to even accept debility because confronting the underlying issue ‘creates’ a migraine or a sore back? The mind is ever-ready to procrastinate…

I actually have come across this and experienced many a migraine, then there’s not a lot that you can do. You do what you can to ease the pain, and that might not really be the time for a philosophical breakthrough. It’s more like detecting the next deep breath and breathe out. If you honestly have something going on, you need to address that: if you have back pain, deal with the back pain. Here’s a series of poses that will help you. And with a migraine, here are some actions that will help you. People need to learn these things; to learn, they need to go to teachers that can help them.

Forrest Yoga is a Vegan-Based Yoga System

J: One of the most important things about Forrest Yoga now is that we’re a vegan-based yoga system. We’re not the only ones, yet we are the only ones incorporating it within the curriculum. We have a video about learning to go vegan, in 9 steps.

Do you notice people being open to that? I see people can be quite hostile towards vegans.

J: Yes, they can be aggressive towards it, but we are ‘winning the war’. There has been a 600% increase in veganism in the USA. It shows that people are waking up, yet some people are very aggressive, they are locked into their meat-eating ways.

A: It is part and parcel of the program, as we need a planet to live on! We put it all into perspective; we must find a way to live and to take care of the planet and all of the life on it, not just the humans! I do understand the aggression as I was one of those meat eaters for many years, so when we got together it was like, “Oh God, don’t even talk to me about such, I was a vegetarian before you even got into that!”

After a while it started to be more ‘ok’, as my initial vegan education was from the 60’s, back in the ‘dark ages’, that was why I became vegetarian. So we watched some of the new material such as “Cowspiracy”, “Earthlings”, “Forks Over Knives”, “What the Health” etc. I realized that I had experimented with vegetarianism, and I kinda gave up, because there are a lot of foods that I have allergies to. I now eat beautiful and delicious food. It is not a diet of deprivation, but rich in flavours too. I eat a lot better foods than I ever did as a meat eater.

Many people think they’ll miss out by going vegan. However, what I found is that being vegetarian and studying veganism actually broadened my food horizons. It’s easy to find substitutes and the choices are much wider and far more exciting now than ever before.

A: It’s so easy now. In the 70’s it wasn’t easy, now there are more organic foods, and you have beautiful farmers’ markets – it’s not difficult at all, all it does ask is a little bit of research.

Don’t Be Dim: Eat for Luminosity!

What might be interesting for your readers, and I hope they really get fascinated by this: start choosing your foods based on the vitality it has in it. That’s a beautiful aim when you start eating foods that build your luminosity. And be sensitive to what ‘dims’ your luminous nature. It’s a slow form of killing yourself when you slowly dim yourself. So when you eat meat, it’s very dulling and you are bringing into yourself all these chemicals, as well as the animal’s suffering.

It was really hard for me to see that I was perpetuating the torture and slaughter of animals in order to eat meat, because I loved animals so much, so I became a vegan a second time. It became easier to release my own suffering and the animals’ suffering, and to no longer support industries that are still part of the horrible treatment of our chickens, cows, ducks and pigs. It is just really disgusting, people really need to find out about it. Is animal protein really worth it? And please get educated, because plant-based protein is where everybody gets their protein. When you get protein from eating an animal’s leg, that animal got the protein from plants in the first place!

Vegan with Attitude

J: There is one important statistic: a meat and dairy user uses 18 times more land and water than a vegan; a vegetarian uses 3 times more land and water than a vegan. If you consider that animal extinction is due to land clearing and that 90% of all land clearing is for meat and dairy production, then you can see where the problem is. Yet meat eaters do not want to hear that, because food is an addiction, just like drugs.

You mean they just put their fingers in their ears?

J: Yeah…They don’t want to listen, but they will listen in time. We are working with meat eaters all the time. I was under the illusion that the yoga business was full of vegans and vegetarians, and then I found out, it really isn’t. If we ask at the course who is vegan, only about two hands go up…we’re working on it! In India, when we did a show of hands, it was 100%.

How do the vegans receive your course?

J: They love it and, as Ana said, it is so much easier these days. What people don’t realize is that everything has a vibration. The meat caries the suffering of the animal and when eating meat, you ingest suffering with that vibration. Let alone all the toxic chemicals already in that animal’s flesh.

A: And we need to mention this to people – it’s showing up and completely unbalancing their immune systems. There are so many people now that are living off drugs. Drugs in their food has knocked them out of balance so badly, that they don’t even understand it. All these drugs in their foods, while their immune and endocrine systems simply fall apart, and then they go on antidepressants. They’re disconnected to their feelings and they don’t know how to process things, there are a lot of people, really, at crisis point. We are trying to turn this river of humanity into a river of sanity.

J: There are two things your readers can do: a daily yoga practise and go vegetarian, and later on, make the transition to veganism. That is what they can do to get into balance
with the universe. Take it one step at a time though…And after that…

Don’t Forget to Breathe!

A: Breathe deeply! “Fierce Medicine” (Full title: “Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit“. Ana Forrest also had a significant impact on one of our previous interviewees, NHS doctor, Thuli WhitehouseEd. note) is a good book that teaches that. And books by indigenous people, though not everybody is up to reading such literature. There is a big resurgence and fascination with Indigenous peoples, as they actually have the key that our people really need. How to find purpose in life, how to find out who you authentically are, how to become good stewards of the land and have sacred relationships with animals. They have had that for thousands and thousands of years, the Aboriginal people were the best stewards of the land. We have lost that, and we are destroying everything.

J: When the white people came, they poisoned the river, poisoned the forest, killed the animals, and deliberately killed the culture and the connection to the Sacred Ones.

‘The Hoop of the People’

Yes, a lot of Natives and Indigenous cultures have deliberately been torn apart and destroyed, sadly that’s still going on.

A: That’s the method. And I feel as leaders and teachers, that it’s our job to bring that back together. Like our spirit pledge about mending the ‘Hoop of the People’ (people living harmoniously). Global greed has destroyed the Rainbow Hoop of the People, a lot of my elderly friends in the Native American community were beaten (jailed or even killed) for speaking Navajo, or doing a ceremony, and children stolen or placed in Christian schools. There were bounty hunters being paid by the government to kill off as many buffalo as they could, so the tribes would starve.

And this wasn’t so long ago. A lot of people that I know living on reservations, and their women, when going to the hospital for whatever procedure, are put under and at a point find out they no longer have a uterus! They get sterilized, without any consent. This happens THIS century, not some other time, this is happening on the Reservations, NOW. It is utterly inhumane and we need to come around and change this! The solutions to our present-day issues are in the Indigenous ceremonies and in being in balance with each other, ourselves, and animals.

J: That’s the reason why we try to recreate, the ceremony in the yoga class, because ultimately most people in the class are very fragile, some just inches from suicide. You cannot just give them a set of postures, you have to give them a sense that they can overcome from many, many directions. The yoga class becomes a corroboree, to come from the ordinary to becoming a more extraordinary – version of yourself.

Jose – The Musical Shaman & Vibrational Medicine

A: With José being a musical shaman, we work to use the music to seep into those deep and tender places where words cannot reach, and it’s working. I’ve been doing this work alone for decades, and now I have another person working with me whose field is so different from what I’ve learned. And now that we bring it together, it’s just so much more effective now working with people. We give them so many different kinds of tools.

People come to us, some naïvely and say, “I will do my bit”, and I say “No, you have to do the work yourself, and we will help you, give you the tools and teach you how to use them, but you must do it yourself! It’s up to you to feed you, it’s up to you to do the courses, it’s up to you to change your thinking, and we will help you.”

As music is vibrational, it gets deeper into the system, I heard José talk about a didgeridoo near the heart?

J: Yes, we’ve been doing that for over 50,000 years, using the didgeridoo as medicine – vibration as medicine has been around since time immemorial. With Ana, we put the didgeridoo on the front of the heart and I had my hands on the back of the heart, sealing in the energy making it go around. And we’ve been together pretty much ever since. I didn‘t do it with that intention. It’s just the way it turned out, and I have so much to offer the world of yoga.

My problem with yoga, despite loving the physical part, is that we could really turn this into something special from my experiences of travelling to over 40 countries with my indigenous group. And seeing that our ceremonies work in over 25 cultures, it’s a connection with the great spirit ceremony. The reason Ana and I are having an impact on the world at the moment, is because we can offer a complete smorgasbord of spiritual nutrition for the soul.

A: When José and I started our courtship and we were telling each other, like, the secret, precious things, I told him that I was learning and I was experimenting (and I was clearly secretive about this, only doing this one-on-one) that I would run energy on a student, that I corroborate to send the vibration to, or I would sing a medicine song to help reach that area to rearrange, and I thought I was the only one doing that. Then José looked at me funny and he said, “My people are singing into the bones for over forty-thousand years”. So I just looked at him, “Oh man, we gotta talk!” Just wow, this entire field just opened up. You guys are doing that, and it’s a deep cloud seed. It was like, I’m not the only one planting seeds with this.

Must be incredible to vibe with someone with similar experience, who’s able to reinforce what you’re doing to drive the idea to even greater depths.

J: Exactly! My complete knowledge of ceremony and veganism was added. Now we have a 12-step program; it’s something we’re implementing into Forrest Yoga: 9-steps to conscious eating.

A: We are making it more understandable, because most people think it’s very complicated to become a vegan, but it isn’t. People also say that it’s difficult to have good nutrition, then I say, “Come on, it’s not! Do you not know the difference between a Big Mac or broccoli? Are you saying you can’t make a simple decision about that – really?”

There are vegans that don’t know how to nourish themselves properly – there are plenty of innovatively distracting vegan junk foods and treats available nowadays.

A: Yes, it takes discernment, don’t just put anything in your mouth! Indeed, it’s not just, “I eat vegan, so I can eat whatever the crap I want!” You might not eat a dead animal, but why not eat what feeds your luminosity, instead of what excites your addictions, it’s not the same.

J: However, they are still doing their bit to save the planet, even those that are eating loads of vegan lasagna, vegan pizza, vegan cheesecake – it’s what they are not eating (meat and dairy products) that counts and it’s spiritually more in the right direction, ultimately. Ana and I eat 60-70% raw and 30% cooked. Delicious.

Books & Other Media Projects

I’m sure you enjoy your meals! It’s been a while since your book “Fierce Medicine”, came out – are you considering writing a new book. If so, what would it be about?

A: Yes! In the last five years that we’ve been touring the world, we have accumulated an unbelievable amount of information for a ceremony book. We do not want to do a clichéd yoga book. It will be a complete knock-out, because it will cover everything: ceremony, shamanism, veganism, yoga, love – it’s gonna cover all of that.

You can’t make everybody do a yoga course, but a book can find its way into the hands of people, and help as many as possible.

J: In a similar way as Eckhart Tolle does, yes. We can do that with a book. What we are doing with the relentless touring is re-establishing Forrest Yoga as a duo and as much more of a ceremonial yoga.

Different people are negotiating with us to do an online program, with ceremony, and yoga. We’re also being asked to write a book for ‘seniors’, which we’re considering, but it certainly wouldn’t have that in the title, rather, “How to be a wisdom keeper”. Which is more amazing than “How to do Yoga as an Old Person!” We’re not into that. I’m an artistic director, and if you visit our YouTube channel you’ll see that Ana and I have a new standard of presentation, music, and mindfulness.

A: On YouTube and iTunes (under Ana and José Calarco) you’ll see what we’re doing, and we really hope that your readers will, because we are really proud of our songs. José’s songs come from a place of a spirit on fire, a heart reaching out to the people. Like here is our song for you.

I noticed they are quite calming and mellow…

J: Yes, if you take “Love”, that is a poem with orchestration, and we use it in our course. People are crying and weeping, and they get a new perspective of love. By far it is the biggest thing we’ve ever done and we’d gotten 270K views in a couple of weeks!

A: We love giving a new perspective on love. Redefining love in a whole different way. People reacting “I can do that! I can love in that way.” It’s a revelation.

Many need to get that connection back.

A: Absolutely.

What’s Needed for the Education of Today’s Youth

From your perspective, what would be a good means for educating the youth in this quickly-changing world?

J: Well, apart from veganism, yoga is growing faster now too. So these two things: diet and mindful exercise. And I’d add, as a third, a program of insight. Something that stimulates the soul; playing an instrument, writing, reading, something that nurtures. And as a fourth thing, reconnecting to nature! These things will prevent you from being a dysfunctional or even suicidal person, you need to use your time wisely. Wisdom is when the knowledge is actually applied. We know what is good for us, but we don’t apply it.

A: Our children need to be taught, like in yoga, how to get a sense of themselves. It will feed their self esteem and the less they will be bullied and tortured by their own schoolmates, in school and in life. I feel that in yoga, what we teach these children is a sense of their own self worth, access to their gifts, and a means to developing them. Presently there is a disturbing rate of suicide, caused by media and usually their own peers, and it is hideous. I’m a big advocate of educating children in a way that will serve them to develop who they need to become, not somebody else’s idea of who they need to become.

J: As an example, we were working for years with Aboriginal and Indigenous children, remote communities where there is no sense of hope; there is alcohol, petrol sniffing, drugs, violence and child molestation. All these things are going on, and it’s not really the Aboriginal people’s fault. The government has purposely destroyed the centre of their culture and without that, people are going to die. We did a program for reconnecting the kids with nature and their culture, and now there are no more suicides. Our people absolutely need that.

Thought as Medicine

Agree. Yoga often works intensively with affirmations and mantras, to reinforce the practice and take it further, what do you think of ‘thought as medicine’?

A: You need to learn to work with your habitual thinking, creative thinking, and weeding out your destructive thinking. As one of our senior garden teachers calls it “she no longer cultivates her garden of dark thoughts”. Stop growing the same sickening, depressing harvest every single year! Plant something different, that is absolutely imperative, because what you are thinking, can drive you insane.

So don’t continue to feed the weeds.

J: Another part of our yoga class is not just listening to music, but getting underneath the mental noise and (just like shamans and medicine people that use magic do) getting into the fertile space and that can only happen if you get beneath the mental noise.

Fertile seeds for the future, so this is the rich and fertile ground for manifestation. For the most part we are full of thoughts that we are not good enough, some even suicidal. Mental health (A: the lack of it!) is totally out of control. There is an immense gap between experiencing elation and having suicidal tendencies. We are a product of a society without a soul, without a centre. Same with the aboriginal people, 90% have died, there is no more centre, and then society dies, which is exactly what happened. And for us too, society is dying!

A: When we work with our students, we see that this is where all these crazy cravings and addictions come from. All the disgusting things that we do to ourselves and to each other. When we can connect to our spirit, we can come into a different alignment, and soul sickness begins to heal. We work with that, we work with the thinking, and it is so very important. It is not about killing the thinker, it’s about teaching the thinker to be quiet and use different senses, like feeling it and learning to translate it, and make sense of what those feelings mean, whether it’s a physical or an emotional feeling, we need to be educated in that, to heal the neurosis. There is this ongoing river of neurotic filth spilling in our mind all the time with the way we think.

J: And here is another thing, good actions bring good thoughts as well.

Walk the talk you mean? We also need purpose and vision, otherwise we’ll be all over the place.

A: Indeed, we’ve got to do something. It’s not only just about sitting in a chair and painting pretty pictures in your head, it’s not like that at all! We need a vision of some sort, and then every single day think, “what kind of action can I take to build on that?”. When you want to get healthy or get fit, what action can you take? You have to move! Stop drinking, stop smoking, stop what is making you sick and pick up the things that will help your health. There is action to be taken, every single day!

You mean take baby steps to slowly build a new you?

J: Yes, a new you. The thinker needs to be healed, and good action produces a better quality of thought, and a better quality of thought produces different experiences, better experiences.

A: The main poison that we humans carry around is our shame, guilt, jealousy and all that difficult stuff. When we take actions that make us proud of ourselves, that build our self respect and self esteem – that is part of the healing process. Even if you have a steady habit of getting utterly drunk, go do a yoga class and sweat it out, that is good for your self esteem. It’s a much better action.

From Darkness to Light…

It seems almost mandatory that we go through a blame, shame and guilt trip phase until we see through that and learn to move beyond it, right?

A: We have to heal whatever that stuff is and where it’s coming from. There is a trail to some deep, deep wounding and it needs to be discovered and healed, and that takes years.

Before I have to (unfortunately) wrap here – I couldn’t go without asking, what are your views on human potential?

J: We have unlimited potential, yet we choose stupidity. So we need to understand why we choose stupidity first, why we always reach for the bottle or the drugs. There are two paths, there is destiny and there is stupidity. Destiny is to follow the true course of love and start doing our highest calling, and stupidity is when we move in circuitous circles, getting the same old experiences, making the same mistakes, over and over and over again. Some people say, “everything is destiny”. No it’s not!

It is all day and night, yin and yang, black and white, etc. There are two ways and you have a choice to move in destiny, and the choice to move in stupidity. And humankind continuously chooses stupidity. We have to ask “Why is society breeding a type of person that has little hope now? Why do we continue choosing this path?” If you look at our history, the amount of wars, and suffering, even now today, the technological revolution has destroyed 50% of the ocean and 70% of the rainforests. Still, we are choosing stupidity, still up to today! But our potential is unlimited.

A: Here is another perspective on the brain, because I have seen so many brain injuries, epilepsy, migraines and a lot of different stuff. So I practice a pranayama (life force control) for lighting up the brain; music and singing lights up the brain, and we work with that a lot. In the workshops, one thing I’m very excited about (and there have been many scientific studies on this) is that most of us only use one-fifth of our brain, thinking the same thoughts we thought the day before, and the day before that and the day before that.

Get Lit! (Up) Get Creative!

There is very little fresh, creative thinking, and if we can get a handle on that, and literally light up the brain, what could we accomplish with actually very little resources? It’s just amazing to contemplate!

Yet we keep choosing stupidity – but what if we didn’t? What if we choose to be wisdom keepers, that would be a working force of people. If we teach our people to light up their brains, rearrange their physiology, that would be a very worthwhile thing to do in this world.

We have to do it, we cannot wait for the big government to do it for us, because it’s not going to happen. We have to gather together as people and make changes to our food, our planet, our own health, for our children, for our animals.

Governments prefer us to be docile.

J: Of course. One thing about Forrest Yoga, is that we teach people to be individuals, because ultimately they’ve got to be their own saviour. We can just point them in the right direction, but you need to be your own saviour, you need to be your own guru, you need to be an individual.

A: And sometimes people hear that and mishear, they think they need to do everything by themselves. I say no! Part of the responsibility for your own evolution is going to the people that can teach you. If you’re wondering about diet and are confused about it, go to a vegan nutritionist and get some advice, use some blood tests to find out what your food allergies are. There are steps you can take. If you want to learn yoga, go to a yoga teacher!

We have to ask help lest we fall behind and maybe even risk going backwards!

Ana and Jose, thank you for participating in this eye-opening interview with us and sharing your precious time and wisdom with Keep Fit Kingdom readers! For more, visit where all upcoming teacher trainings and workshops around the world are announced. You can also check them out on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  

We hope you found this feature interesting and that you picked up some insights and knowledge along the way. Which part resonated with you the most, and which yoga teachers or masters have you encountered on your journey to experiencing greater wholeness, wellness and fulfilment? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram! Hungry for more Yoga, because you covet the wisdom of Yoda? Then click on and master these: Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa & the highest of all, Kundalini for the ultimate Touch of Zen!

Marleen Lam

Marleen Lam is a journalist from Holland with a background in pediatric speech therapy and sensory integration. Her passions are reading, teaching, child-development, cats, food, gardening and being outdoors. As she continues to evolve, she is enjoying getting more into mindfulness including meditation, yoga, vegan food and energy healing practices like Reiki and Jin Shin Jyutsu.

1 Comment
  1. Wow, so much potent information and beautiful stories shared in this interview! Thank you all for sharing!

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