Known as the “yoga teacher with healing hands”, Brian Campbell is taking yoga to the next level with his signature bodywork
Brian Campbell started his career as a massage therapist but signed up for yoga classes following his teacher’s advice to explore Ana Forrest’s work. “My bodywork mentor said I needed to go practise with her and told me ‘She’s doing what we’re doing, but with yoga.’ That was intriguing.”
He took his first yoga class in 2000 and immediately enrolled in Forrest’s teacher training. He’s been teaching yoga ever since, reaching the highest level of distinction (Guardian Teacher) in the Forrest Yoga system. Today, Campbell has more than 15 years of experience in treating pain. He was a lead instructor at the Shiatsu Massage School of California, teaching anatomy and physiology, deep tissue massage, myofascial anatomy and treatment, as well as pain and orthopedic evaluation. The vast bodywork knowledge and attained yoga awareness led him to fuse the two to bring about greater healing and to launch Body Work Yoga.
“When I teach my courses abroad, we always start with a two-hour Forrest Yoga class, and our theme that day might be working on releasing the neck and shoulders. Then we would have a break for an hour, followed by four hours of bodywork, also working on releasing the neck and shoulders. And then day two would be hips. We would start with two hours of Forrest Yoga getting into the hips, followed by hands-on bodywork.”
Campbell remains a dedicated Forrest Yoga teacher, stating that he doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel by creating a foundational training programme. He’d much rather see Body Work Yoga as an extension of Forrest Yoga and for it to be part of the greater school.
Campbell presently teaches smaller groups at his home studio in Los Angeles but travels frequently to teach in Newcastle, Doha, Seoul and Singapore, as well as Hong Kong during the Asia Yoga Conference. People who can’t get to any of his workshops and classes can watch his online videos on the Body Work Yoga website, where he features pain-specific videos to relieve discomfort and help people lead happier and healthier lives. Each body part has two videos, and each video offers five yoga poses, which he considers the most important postures for relieving pain. His videos address wrist and carpal tunnel issues, neck and shoulder stiffness, as well as the lower back pain.
“My personal mission is to teach yoga teachers how to use their hands,” he says. “There are so many yoga trainings out there…and teachers come out without knowing how to use their hands.”
“It’s all about the breath. The breath is what helps people become present and relate to their tension. I’m working on a scaly muscle for instance, and most people don’t know what that is, and they don’t feel their tension. As they’re breathing in, there’s an association between mind and body, and on the exhalation there can be that feeling of release and emotion. I was trained in bodywork to recognise mental, physical and emotional body all being partners in how people hold on to pain or get rid of it. Forrest Yoga works the same way. It works on the physical body, mental body and emotional body simultaneously. For a healing modality to be successful, you have to work on all three levels simultaneously, and that’s when the ability to heal expedites. I don’t think we should waste time with that, right?”
“The breath is what helps people become present and relate to their tension”