Breathing is the beginning and the end. Without it, the asanas are seem incomplete. Doing with and without will clearly show the difference and what the breath allows you to do and how much deeper into the pose you can go.
This was new to me also prior to participating in the classes. It does offer a sense or preparation for where the student/client is going to go or what they are shooting for prior to the hold. That can offer or give a positive mental accomplishment.
Agreed! It can be a good contagion, but I think at times people can be put “under this spell”, which would be a good way to help other cope throughout their day. During a class, just following the instructors direction can guide them through a meditation with key words or sayings when given in a settled state can stay with a person long after the class adding to attention given to Niyama or Yama with little effort on the students behalf. The instructor has a golden opportunity.
I would agree with Deborah on having a variety of outlets. Sometimes when my focus is strictly on yoga, I can feel the burnout coming. It can help (for me) to make sure I incorporate a variety of activities like running, swimming, biking, hiking, etc. Just feeling those muscles being used in other activities can help push me back into those yoga practices that help support the other activities. It’s like having a “one hand washes the other mindset”.