Pranayam Yoga Centre
By Avary Lovell

Roses are Red, Books are Too...

YOGA Pranayam Centre is situated on the Danforth, just steps away from Chester Station. The studio offers Kripalu Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, and workshops focused on yoga and meditation. Owner Brigitte Kortright may be as great a storyteller as she is a yoga teacher. Sitting comfortably in lotus position, Brigitte tells of the time she was attending her first meditation class at 14. “We had to visualize a rose. I couldn’t because I’m not visual. So meditation, I decided, was not for me. Because I couldn’t visualize roses,” she explains.

Thankfully, her instructor had set out a selection of books for sale. Brigette picked up a little red one, Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda, and sifted through the book, stopping at a particular line that mesmerised her. Brigitte recalls the idea: if an individual has a soul, they should be able to experience it. “It’s about paying attention to what’s inside a person. Being present in the inner life of you,” she explains, “So I bought this book and it was my red thread all through.”

And a strong thread it’s been; Brigitte has continued to study yoga ever since that fateful day and has been teaching yoga and meditation practices on the Danforth since 1989. Throughout the years, she’s been known to end her classes with an interesting idea for students to ruminate. If they're lucky, the message will be delivered in the form of a suspenseful, dazzling tale.

It’s about paying attention to what’s inside a person. Being present in the inner life of you. - Brigitte Kortright, owner
YOGA Pranayam Centre, Kripalu Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, workshops, meditation, yoga, Danforth
The interior of the YOGA Pranayam studio.

Mind-Body Oasis

Brigitte says the YOGA Pranayam Centre attracts those looking for an oasis. “People now and then need an oasis. You need to be quiet at times,” she explains. First-time visitors can expect to walk into an inviting, candlelit studio with large windows looking out onto Carrot Common’s rooftop garden. The soothing soundscape includes warm music interwoven with Brigitte’s soft accent leading students through poses.

The studio focuses on Kripalu Yoga, which places importance on mind, body and energy. This is achieved through standard poses and meditation as well as pranayama — an ancient practice of breath control that aids in stress reduction among other medical benefits.

Brigitte explains the gentle poses practiced work to help calm the mind. The stillness may be difficult at first; however, she explains, “You go into a feeling space, rather than going into a thinking space. So you feel what’s going on in your body, you feel your emotions changing, and you feel your mind settling after some time. If you’re physically very still, your mind will settle.” She says when very still in a pose inspiration can come to the mind’s eye, a new thought or approach that may be helpful to a person's life.

YOGA Pranayam Centre also offers Tai Chi Chuan.  Similar to Yoga, the martial art carries a meditative aspect. Taught by Brigitte’s daughter, Jacqueline Kortright, the class focuses on defence techniques while also teaching inner peace. Brigitte says it involves tuning into feelings and present energy, whether calm or ready to attack, and learning to control emotions. “You have to be in the present moment,” she notes.

Our bodies have the miraculous ability to heal themselves from daily wear and tear but Brigitte points out they are still in need of regular TLC. “You have a responsibility and that’s my job, too, to tell you yes, you need certain building blocks," says Brigitte. "If you don’t do them, then your body breaks down faster.”

Wherever a person is on their journey, the trick is to like himself or herself in the present moment as is. Brigitte explains, “Kripalu Yoga is not about becoming, it’s about being who you are. You are much more than shows on the outside.”

YOGA Pranayam Centre, Kripalu Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, workshops, meditation, yoga, Danforth
The entrance to the Centre, located in Carrot Common.
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