Greg Jamiel is a man of many talents. The Cranston native started to study medicine before opting for a career in the arts, graduating from RISD and becoming an Emmy award-winning designer. But when his company closed shop in Portland it threw him for a loop, and Jamiel decided to try a new career on for size.
On Sunday, Jamiel will share that new career and his new talents back in his hometown of Cranston, when he will host “Celebrate Love,” a Forrest Yoga workshop at Body Kneads Yoga.
“It’s scary as hell to not have a consistent job, but being in that consistent job, I was literally working to live and not being happy. I just had to say ‘stop’ and take a chance on this,” Jamiel said. “Through this practice, I’ve really been able to fall back in love with myself. That’s something I hope to impart on other people.”
When Jamiel’s company first closed, it forced him to re-examine his life and his future. He felt lost and hit the gym as a way to clear his head.
“I was looking for some type of direction; I was looking for some clarity in my mind,” he said. “I ended up going to the gym and trying every single kind of yoga I could to see if one resonated with me. I felt the best thing to do would be to get on my mat and just practice.”
Jamiel, who graduated from Cranston East, moved west when he was 22 years old. He had practiced yoga over the years, but was not familiar with Forrest Yoga. He found a practitioner in Portland that offered classes and found a form of yoga that is very different from the traditional Vinyasa style.
Based in Native American tradition, Forrest Yoga is much slower, with practitioners flowing between poses and building core strength. Jamiel says the body isn’t the only thing getting a workout, though.
“We actually go after your emotional issues you have and emotions that are stored in your body and help them to release. We teach you to come alive; we teach you to access parts of your body that you shut down,” he said.
Forrest Yoga attempts to show practitioners how to focus their breath on certain parts of the body, especially where they hold tension. Jamiel explained that when a pose feels uncomfortable, that is indicative of a problem area emotionally. Forrest Yoga purportedly tackles and cleanses those emotions at the source.
“It allows you to move into some deep emotional things. This is just a chance to be true to yourself and iron out some questions that you have. I feel, when I practice on my mat, it is therapy,” he said.
Once he started practicing Forrest Yoga, Jamiel was hooked. He soon joined a teacher training, an intense 30-day program that prohibits potential teachers from drinking coffee or alcohol and keeps them in the studio, practicing yoga, from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“You had to be completely clean the entire time. There were a lot of epiphanies I had during that teacher training,” he said.
Jamiel became close with his instructor, and the two now run a yoga studio together in Portland. He is also the creative services director and artist-in-residence for the Forrest Yoga organization and serves as the yoga and lifestyle expert for the online health and wellness community, Pazoo.com. More recently, he was featured in Origin magazine and as Maduka’s “Yogi to Watch.”
Now that he is in the studio daily teaching the Forrest Yoga methods to others, Jamiel says he knows he made the right career move.
“I come alive when I’m on the mat, and I hope to impart that on other people. Sitting at a desk just doesn’t compare to it,” he said. “I really believe that it will be successful.”
Jamiel is especially looking forward to being able to share Forrest Yoga methods with family and friends. The workshop will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Body Kneads Yoga, which is located at 1145 Reservoir Avenue. The cost is $25, and participants are asked to bring water, two yoga mats (or one yoga mat and one medium sized towel), a block and a strap. The studio also has mats for rent and props available for free.
To start the class off, Jamiel will give a short lecture about chakras, or energy centers in the body, touching upon meditation and visualization. During the yoga lesson, he will walk around the room to help newcomers. At the same time, he says he will give Reiki, which he is trained in. Aeriel Arthur from Body Kneads will also be a part of the workshop.
“Forest Yoga really focuses on hands-on assist,” he said, adding that novice yoga practitioners need not worry about the level of difficulty. “Forest Yoga is designed in a way for people of today. We’re trained as teachers to up-level and give modifications to students.”
Overall, Jamiel describes Forrest Yoga classes as “heart opening,” and he hopes to see familiar and new faces in his hometown.
“I believe we have a chance to help people,” he said. “I can’t tell you the number of times new people will come up to me and say, ‘This was so different than anything I’ve ever tried.’”