What is Breath-Focused Yoga?

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 novices and beginners, and to those who don’t see great attraction in manoeuvring themselves into overly contorted rearrangements of their torso and limbs.

Neil doing Tree pose in Costa Rica

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 opens 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) and guide you 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.

Because I believe yoga is more than just the physical practice of asanas (yoga postures), sessions typically begin with a nod to cultivating an intention for the practice, integrate instruction on one or more pranayama (yoga breathing) techniques, and conclude with brief meditation on some notion related to living skillfully and being a quality human being.

Because I believe yoga should extend beyond the experience in a class, students will have access to a library of reference leaflets I have developed for all 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 showroom to check out a car and try 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.