Anna Schabold: Breathe into the journey of change.

The one thing all of us have in common is a desire for health and happiness. But, obtaining it is the hard part especially when the guidance of society leads us astray. So, we have to learn from our experiences, which creates struggle along the way. Is there a way to make these transformations easier?

We interviewed Anna Schabold, a Chicago based yoga instructor who will be joining us on our Finland & Forrest Yoga Adventure, to find out how her life’s path guided her to Forrest Yoga and how its practice has helped her breathe into change.

BonViage: Anna, tell us what inspired you to teach Forrest yoga? 

Anna: In the past my life goals were to check off all the boxes, on a typical "successful life" list, which included earn a degree, get a high paying job, get married, and buy a house. I spent a lot of time and mental energy worried about what I should do and what others thought of me. But, Forrest Yoga changed that.

When I first started to do yoga, I went once a week to learn from Allison English, a Forrest Yoga instructor, at Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts in Lincoln Square. The class became a refuge for me from some rough times at work. It helped me let go of a lot of anxiety, which I was self creating from said “successful life”. But, after each class, I started to feel stronger, calmer and less anxious. I began to trust what my body and intuition told me. It was Forrest Yoga that eventually led me to recognize my own self-worth. To take the risk and find a different career, which would make me happy. 

So, I quit my job and put my health and well-being first.

The month long Forrest Yoga training took me on a journey of deep personal inquiry and challenge, which I had never experienced before. In Forrest Yoga, intention setting and a physical asana practice are woven together with deep breathing. This took me through an amazing personal transformation. By the end, I had a deep desire to help others feel the same way I did. Forrest Yoga gave me the tools to better my life and connect me to my own truths that I now live by, which are: I am stronger than I think. I am worthy of love and belonging. 

Looking back eight years later, it's the best gift I've ever given myself. 

BonViage: How does Forrest Yoga differ from other yoga practices?

Anna: Forrest Yoga is more than just yoga, it's a practice that gives you tools to change your body and life. It encourages you to look at yoga, as a ceremony and sacred space, where you choose to step away from the distractions of daily life, to pay attention to you.

The four pillars of Forrest Yoga are breath, strength, integrity, and spirit. With each pose, ask yourself, are you able to feel your breath? Can you stay with your breath during intense moments? What does it feel like to focus on what your body can do today? When you become quiet and still, what does your spirit want to say to you? These are the kinds of questions that Forrest Yoga asks us, in the middle of a yoga pose. The journey of this practice brings us closer to who we really are and most desire to be. It takes courage to allow your self to feel vulnerable, be seen and connect to the parts that are afraid. Once you feel those parts of yourself, you will change.


BonViage: Tell us what inspired you to go to Finland with BonViage.

Anna: I am thrilled to be going to Finland with BonViage. My own dreams to travel, gain a new perspective and expand my own understanding of the world, made it easy to say yes. Especially when the trip is focused on the theme of well-being.

Truthfully Lesley, the time I have spent getting to know you practicing yoga, doing bodywork and sipping tea at Kopi Cafe with you, has inspired me to dream bigger and take the plunge to make things happen. For me, taking this vacation is an act of self-care and to set time aside from daily life for an adventure. It is a way for me to delight my spirit and learn about another culture’s way of life, from Finland's saunas to immersing myself in nature to relax and renew. 

BonViage: If you had yoga superpowers, what would they be?

Anna: I would have a lot of fun levitating! The closest I can get right now to that are arm balance poses, like Crow. Or, playing with gravity surfing, which is what Ana Forrest calls riding your breath through a transition, from one arm balance to another. I'm just starting to understand Crow pose and Turn Signal pose, which has been difficult and a mystery to me for many years now.

BonViage: What do you do when you are not teaching yoga?

Anna: I am a Certified Structural Therapist. I do bodywork and love to nerd out on anatomy. Also, I am currently in herbalism training and enjoy studying plants; learning about Traditional Chinese Medicine and gardening on my teacher's herb farm in Indiana. Then of course, I love listening to live music; reading fantasy and sci-fi novels; watching horror movies; wrestling in the mud for the Mud Queens of Chicago; playing my drum; eating cheese; and enjoying my life, loving and being loved by my wonderful partner Andy, my friends, and family. 

BonViage: Where can we connect with you to take your classes, workshops or events? 

Anna: I am super excited for my new MeetUp Group called Forrest Yoga, Bodywork, Herbs and More. I will be creating some fun events this summer that are more than just yoga. For example, I'm on a quest to demystify yoga and help people connect to really simple practices they can do every day to help them feel better in their bodies. One of those techniques is deep breathing and other breath exercises. Join me on Thursday, June 22, 12–12:30pm at Foster Beach, for Breathing in the Park.

My regular yoga class schedule is Monday, Wednesday and Friday's at Yoga Tree, located at 5238 N Clark Street. I've also recently launched a new weekly yoga class every Tuesday at 12:30-1:30 pm at Ascend Chicago, located at 409 W. Huron in River North. On Wednesday's at 8am, you can find me teaching a free community class at the Chicago Center for Psychophysical Healing.

But, be sure to register for my mailing list at Boldly Go Yoga and follow me on FaceBook to stay connected. I am always creating new workshops or other events to attend. They are fun and I enjoy sharing what I do.

Anna was the first to introduce me to Forrest Yoga a few years ago. As I myself work to find my way to the yoga mat, it is the gentle wisdom of Forrest Yoga and Anna's inspired classes that allow me to dig deeper and find more. I am grateful to be heading in September with Anna Schabold, on our Finland & Forrest Adventure. Interested in joining us? Learn more here.