On the surface, a breath-focused yoga practice looks pretty similar to “everyday yoga” except that it moves a bit more slowly, spends a bit more time in and between poses, and tends to avoid advanced or highly finessed poses in favour of those which permit a solid foundation.
With these tendencies it is well-suited to beginners, and to those who don’t see great attraction to manoeuvring themselves into overly contorted rearrangements of their torso and limbs.
Below the surface, however, there is a lot more going on as the breath focus works in harmony with postures and the movements between them to nurture being more deeply “in your body”. And, seeing as body and soul do not exist in isolation from each other, better connection to your physical being can open the door (whether you are conscious of it or not!) to better connection with your spiritual being. Moving attention to the breath draws energy away from our active minds and helps us be more present.
During a breath-focused yoga practice, I will invite you (because it’s always your choice what to do or not do) to be mindful of your breath in various ways. Some will be a matter of monitoring breathing, while others explore modifying your breathing pattern and making a point to notice in what ways it affects both your physical experience of a pose and affects how you are feeling.
Essentially, what I am doing is using the poses to provide space for healthy, effective breathing to occur. Mindful breathing is both an input and an outcome and, along with the experience of the pose itself, nourishes a rich yoga experience that can offer peace and clarity of body, mind & spirit
Because I believe your yoga practice should extend beyond the experience in a class, students will have access to PDF downloads of reference leaflets for the asanas (poses) and pranayama techniques done in class [click for sample asana leaflet: Tree pose]. Yoga class can be a bit like going to the car dealer for a test drive: you get the general vibe and feel of the car, it all seems lovely and magical, but to really know it you need more drives and more time.
Breath-focused yoga tends to be gentle–it is yoga practice not yoga workout–but that isn’t to say it doesn’t offer challenge or growth.