NATALIE FORREST, PhD
I began learning yoga in the late 90’s, and immediately felt something in the practice click with me. I was searching for stability and a deeper understanding of myself, and I found both in yoga. I loved the physical aspects of it, but what really spoke to me was the insight it offered, the contemplation, and the techniques to focus my mind and be more present, the ability to access breath when I needed to. In short, I loved the entirety of yoga, not just the physical aspects of it that had become so popular. Most importantly, the practice gave me a language for something that I was already feeling. I didn’t fit myself into Yoga, I was already a fit.
I began teaching yoga in the early 2000’s because there was a need in our community (I was covering my teacher’s classes) and just kept right on going (with my teacher’s consent, of course).
At about the same time, I began my foray into Applied Eco-Psychology, and after a decade of study, in 2016 I earned my Doctorate of Philosophy in Applied Eco-Psychology from the Akamai University. I have been asked to develop a certification and run the NatureConnectYoga program – and that’s what I am creating now.
Over the years, I have realized that my definition, understanding and insight into Yoga is very different than what is most commonly thought of – the physical practice is merely one leaf in a tree full of ways to practice yoga. My favourite and most valuable aspects of the practice are not the postures (although I do love how physical movement can filter, settled and restructure my mental and emotional states). And although I see this shift changing in Yoga studios, to me, the practice must be freed from the box and back into the wilds of intimate in-the-moment presence that includes honouring our senses and the information they share with us (not something to overcome or withdraw from).
Blending Applied Eco-Psycology with my personal yoga practice as well as in my teaching was a wonderful fit, and it only made sense to me to offer a more formal exploration of the relationship between the self, yoga practice and nature: welcome to Nature Connect!