"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again." Thich Naht Hanh
An important part of any yoga class is to focus on the in and out breath and the most magical thing happens when you link the length of your breath to the length of your movement and your whole being drops into a state of harmony and balance.
Personally, I find the hardest thing in life is to stay in balance...ALL the time!! And my personal practise, combining movement, deep, controlled breathing, deep relaxation and meditation is the key to always coming back to balance. And the one thing that links all three of these things is the breath, or PRANAYAMA as we call it in yoga. PRANA means universal life force (the same force that grows the trees, opens flowers and aligns the planets, also flows through you and beats you heart) and AYAMA means to extend or draw out.
There are many pranayama techniques to play with and the key to coming to yoga classes is that you have time to explore and find the couple of techniques that really work for you and you can use in your every day life. For exmpale, deep belly breathing helps to calm the nervous system and so is great for relaxing or when you go to bed at night. Alternate Nostril Breath helps to clear your mind and bring the practical side of the brain in harmony with the creative side, so you can come up with creative solutions to problems.