Making Vinyasa Yoga Safe With J. Brown

“Revolutionary is not a word often
associated with Yoga”

By Grace Bell

Revolutionizing the practice and philosophy of yoga, J.Brown is leading the international yoga tribe down a path that creates a deeper, more gratifying way to connect to the Eastern traditions.

Just one workshop with J. Brown is enough to illustrate this man is an embodiment of Ahimsa (compassion), one of the five yamas, which serve as ethical, moral and societal guidelines for yogis.

Ahimsa can be distilled into a practice of compassion in all aspects of life, from the physical body to the mental and emotional bodies of yourself and others.

Kindness aired throughout the room…

…as J. Brown opened the space, greeting each individual attendee with a smile and a korero (a smile and a conversation).

The workshop didn’t begin until he had circled the room, which felt imperative to the intention of the day.


J began to express how the practices of Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Iyengar served his mind and body throughout a more intense time of his life, but as things began to soften, his spirit started to lean towards a more internal practice.

J soon embarked on a journey to India where he unearthed a connection with an exceptional and extraordinary teacher, Swami P. Saraswati. in Rishikesh. He taught J that yoga practice was not just a linear progression towards the unknown, but rather a process of learning how to take care of yourself, and dive into the depths of the universal known.

J continued to follow his path in the direction of a more therapeutic orientation; moving with the tradition of TKV Desikachar and T Krishnamacharya, the “teacher of teachers”.

The kindness and compassion of J. Brown is now pioneering the traditional essence of yoga to Western culture, in a parcel that encases a more “old school” approach to the practice.

The workshop opened with the passionate employment of Ujjayi pranayama, or “ocean-sounding breath.”  J Brown exhibited this Ujjayi pranayama as a way of soothing the central nervous system, relaxing the muscles, awakening joy, and focusing the mind. The nature of this breath simplifies, slows, and centers the being towards a more patient and passive manner of engaging with life.

As we gravitated towards moving the body, J conveyed,

“The building block of yoga asana is sustained attention.”

The workshop began to shift the gears towards the revolution and return of the ancient roots of Yoga.

J presented his personalized practice which felt breath-centered and focused on holding intentions for the entire well being of the person.

It touched us like a gentle and therapeutic vehicle for slowing down, and connecting to the body’s requests.

“It is about meeting the person’s needs and their body’s requests with compassion.” Says J.

The practice was a sequence created to meet the needs of everyone in the room.

The essence was laced with ahimsa (compassion), balance, and adaptation.

We were moved with care, consideration and comfort throughout the entire practice, and as J circled the room it was clear that he held a wealth of knowledge on alignment and anatomy, however the path of the practice was about safety and sustainability.

“Do the work with careful, sustained attention and focus, and then stop and enjoy the work you just did” Says J.

Following the asana practice, we began to korero (converse) about safety in a vinyasa practice. J Brown’s close friend, Mark Whitwell says, “Your yoga practice should fit you like your favorite pair of jeans”

“So what makes a vinyasa practice safe?” Asked J.

Hands raised, eyebrows elevated, thoughtful faces spread across the room…

  • Permission to modify
    Emotional and physical safety

“NZ is unique, I was waiting for someone to say alignment but no one did!” Said J.

And the room erupted with laughter. Perhaps that says something special about the vision and intention here in New Zealand.

Balance appeared to be a fundamental asset of the practice.

“Being balanced within yourself doesn’t mean you can stand on one leg, that just means you can stand on one leg.

True balance is found within.”

The notion of balance brought in the conversation of safety.

“Yoga safety is not necessarily about anatomy and physiology, but exploring something deeper to focus on”.

As J Brown conveys it, “it is about meeting the needs of that person, the entirety of that person.”

From here we explored casual assessments when meeting new students, communication and adaptation.

According to J, adaptation is about adopting a mind frame where,

“we are not going to ignore your pains or difficulties, we are going to care and tend to them”.

This is exemplifies the powerful idea that yoga is not just about treating people as a person, but treating them as a multi dimensional person. “Looking from the inside out rather than the outside in.” Always circling back to the breath as a way to intimately participate and connect to yourself and your practice.

“The more we focus on the breath, the more we see that there are some things about yoga that are pure magic, its not naïve, its pragmatic…

…There are plenty of things that science cannot explain.”

“Breath, bandha, sthira, sukam, philosophy” embodies the essence of yoga with J.Brown.

A man on a journey to revolutionize yoga, pranayama and meditation into an approach that works for each individual.

Building a bridge between Eastern inspiration and Western culture.

Thanks to:

Neal Goshal – for enabling our review of this event.

Sacred Moves – for Hosting J Brown.

Contact details:
J Brown Yoga:
Sacred Moves Yoga Studio Auckland:
Neal Goshal:

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