Today, I want to introduce Charlie. Charlie is a Franco-British woman.
She’s my Forrest Yoga teacher with Jambo Truong in my Forrest Yoga Teacher Training.
But we met 4 years ago during the second Forrest Yoga workshop that Amie from Asana Yoga Studio had organized, already with Jambo, here in Marseille.
Charlie laughs all the time, she always has a smile on his face and sparkling eyes. She is a determined woman who embodies for me the values of Forrest Yoga. I say determined because she uses very clear and honest language with you: truth speaking, which is an extremely important part of Forrest Yoga. During the training, in Glasgow, last November, we had to prepare as a group the Forrest Yoga class that we were going to offer a few days later.
My main difficulty is not to understand (and again … this is not the subject) but to speak in English. When I came by, Charlie, who knows me a little bit in French, asked me to sing my instructions as Edith Piaf sang. Wow! Must dare .. Well, I really enjoyed myself. She let me do it without interrupting me but by listening. She held this space for me, while confidence was building up.
I am very happy to offer you this interview of Charlie: it allowed me personally to get to know her better and then also to approach a theme that is very important for me : Forrest Yoga… I hope that it makes you want to practice it here in France!
We did this interview in french. I wanted to share it with maby people, so I used a translatir. I did some mistakes : sorry for that ! Enjoy !
Charlie, how did you get into yoga?
I tried yoga about 15 years ago and it was in a gym.
We were lying on the floor under the covers and I realized that I was not interested. In fact, I was doing very intense sports: running and boxing. Suddenly, this style of yoga did not suit me because I really wanted to work hard. It had to be super tonic. Looking back, I can say that in fact I really NEED yoga except that I was completely unaware of it.
In 2009, or 2010, with my husband, we went to Portugal for a surf and yoga retreat. We weren’t really interested in yoga. But it was an opportunity to surf not too far from England. It was really cool. There were yoga classes every morning and evening. We were doing Sivananda and acro-yoga. And in these courses, as there could be a bit of a challenge (I couldn’t manage to do crow at this time), that attracted me. So when I got home, I found a bikram studio near my home in London. I went there. I really liked the warmth, the competitive side. It was then my life: I was always competing in my life with myself and at work. That’s what first attracted me. And then, I also found the sensations that I had experienced when I was dancing at the College.
I also did Jivamukti. And then I met a teacher who mixed Forrest Yoga with Anusara Yoga. And I loved her style. She was different from the images seen on Instagram: she was not super skinny, she seemed to have no strength – even though she had a lot of strength inside, she was powerful. It took me 6 months and I decided to be a teacher.
How did you become a teacher?
I signed up for a 200 hour training in Singapore for Anusara yoga. It was cancelled. At the same time, with my husband, we decided to go to the United States, I left my job.
I thought to myself: what am I going to do?
I learned while Ana Forrest was training in Texas. I read his book Fierce Medicine and hooked it.
Before that, I had NEVER done an entire Forrest Yoga class. And I was practicing recently. I was 30 years old. I thought to myself: But why haven’t I done this before?
In fact, I just wasn’t ready.
I had to go through this intense and overflowing energy phase.
Forrest Yoga is indeed an intense style of yoga but I have also understood that one should not struggle while practicing yoga. Forrest Yoga taught me to let go, to be « nice » with myself. Training was a trigger.
Did you teach right away?
Almost. I was with a friend who had trained with me: one week the firts one taught and the other assist her and the following week the roles were reversed.
There was not too much pressure.
What do you like about teaching yoga? And why do you like to teach?
I love to share, what I feel in my body. In fact, I want others to feel good about themselves.
I love this moment when people who come with pain have no longer pain during and after practice. It makes my heart shining! It’s the magic of yoga!
How would you describe Forrest Yoga?
Even in English, it’s difficult to explain because in fact it changes every day.
One of Ana’s mantra is:
Evolve or die
I think that every day I evolve, and my way of understanding Forrest Yoga also evolves all the time.
But as something must be said, I could describe Forrest Yoga as following : it’s a style of yoga that is quite intense because life is intense. We learn to navigate these moments of intensity in our body and our life.
By practicing Forrest Yoga, we obtain tools to learn to feel and connect to our soul (the essence of who we really are) and to live in a way that makes us proud of ourselves. Besides being a great workout that makes you sweat, it also works on a much deeper level. For example, Forrest Yoga helps you understand what is important in your life. I never get bored practicing Forrest Yoga. Because we set an intention at the start of each practice, the practice is always relevant, never out of date. I can honestly say that Forrest Yoga has been a huge support system in my life since 2011.
How exactly do you live this intensity with the sought-after sweetness that you mentioned earlier?
First, I am convinced that this is possible. It’s not contradictory. Inside you can be strong and outside you can be very gentle. And I often come back to that. When I was working in London, I was asked to go back to work for a party from someone who was leaving. Everyone was there when I had been gone for 2 years. Someone said to me : « I thought you were a hard bitch ».
I was the only woman on the management team. I know I had put on a mask, a kind of shield to navigate this masculine world.
In fact, I had lost my warm side. When I started my path, I realized that I could always be a leader and at the same time keep my real face warm and also that I could be a mom.
On my mat, I always wonder what I need. I’m listening. And often the answer is « Softer ». This does not prevent intense physical practice. This is when I am « powerful » (from the word « power » in the sense of power – but not in the derogatory sense. We can have power in the feminine sense of the word).
Among the pillars of Forrest Yoga, there is the « Spirit ». Can you tell us more ?
The Amerindians call it WAKAN SKAN « what moves in all things », the fans of Star Wars would call it « The Force ». My own way of understanding the soul is the energy that connects me to everything else and everything to me is the energy or the essence of who I really am. Strength in me, if you want. When I live in a way where I feel bubbly inside, I know that I am connected to my soul. I just want all the work I do to make me shine. The way I talk to people makes me shine. When I get congruent, things get easier. Forrest Yoga helps to manage the moments when we do not find balance, in ourselves or in our environment. Forrest Yoga training is done to find our soul. Our path is to continue this work and see how we can work, integrate with others in a way that is true to our own needs, without being an asshole or a narcissistic asshole.
You are inspired by Forrest Yoga, shamanism and Brooke Medicine Eagle. What was the continuation of your journey after the Forrest Yoga training?
First, I loved the 4-direction ceremonies. It activated something in me that I didn’t know. I was very curious. Coming back from our training, Jambo asked me to go with him to do a shamanism course. It inspired me a lot. I enjoyed working with the soul and the elements. I love Nature, I have always been in contact with Nature. I have always been intrigued by prehistoric times and rituals. When I was younger, I used to go daily through Avebury (sacred stone circle) on the way to school. It is still one of my favorite places on Earth. So, I guess I have always had the feel of medical methods, I just needed to open up at this frequency! I was able to work with really good teachers who inspired my way of working with people.
You would have questioned me 15 years ago, I never would have told you that I could be attracted by shamanism.
What does attract you to shamanism?
Connection to Nature. And then it works ! When I was working in a company, I did a lot of training to be a good manager.
Shamanism is the basis of all of this. All forms of help, self-care are inspired in one way or another by shamanism. That’s what I felt. There was so much connection to what I had already done. It’s pure, the basis of everything. And when I work with my clients, even if they do not come for shamanic care, this is what allows me to feel what we have to do together. It’s very strong.
For example, we pick up pebbles and make drawings with these pebble s: the person arranges them in his own way and this allows us to enter the psychological base of the person to help him and find a solution or a path that he can follow himself. This helps to identify where there is a problem. It helps them find their way : the one of discovering the most beautiful version of themself, the one of healing.
You are very connected to the feminine. You teach Poppy Yoga (pre and postpartum yoga). Can you tell us more ?
It’s Cat Allen, a Forrest Yoga guardian who has created this. When I had my miscarriage, I contacted her because at this time in France I was not in the social security system. I did not know what to do. She was the one who helped me. After that, I got pregnant. I was doing postures that most pregnancy yoga classes teach you not to do, I also adapted postures and I felt really good. My approach to my practice was consistent with Cat’s teachings.
I wanted to demystify prenatal yoga for others and give excellent postpartum support (there is a huge lack of good postnatal yoga!). Cat trained me so that I could then give the training myself.
Whenever I teach this training, we create a very sacred place. It’s different from Forrest Yoga training. There are often babies with us (!), It is a nourishing energy in another way. We work quite deeply because we touch on the sacred feminine. When I talk about the feminine, it’s not just about the appearance: it’s an energy. It’s not about feeling a woman, it’s very inner.
Hold a sacred space. « Hold the sacred space » Can you tell us more?
It is listening and being present for someone without judging. Brene Brown explains it with tghis example (Dare to lead): she was with a friend of her and were stressed out because she had an important date. His girlfriend held a space : she listened to her without using words like « all is well you will see ». She let her navigate her own emotions.
That’s what it means to hold a space: we let people discover and find their own way. He must have trust between the person who holds the space and the person who opens his emotions. Its very important. Sometimes coaches, shamans, etc. have other things to do while they are holding the space, but the important thing is to be present!
There are several!
I have just launched a series of 3-live online postnatal workshops, starting in May (Charlie website for more info):
– Sacred Cesarean, Love for your Linea Alba and After Loss. I look forward to teaching these workshops. I know they are needed!
I have a 4-day yoga training and a pelvic floor / perineum ceremony in September with another great Forrest Yoga teacher, Szilvia Campbell. This project has been in the making for a few years and we are delighted to finally bring it to life! 😉
I would like to offer Forrest Yoga to more French people. There are a few Forrest Yoga teachers in France and I would like to increase awareness of Forrest Yoga – I want more people to practice Forrest Yoga in France. I was at the forefront of raising awareness for Forrest Yoga in the UK – it’s time to do the same here !… And being a Guardian, I would feel strong enough to carry out this project.
An important word for you?
This is the most difficult question for me. Love : receive, give, see around me people who love each other. That’s what’s important for me.