Diane Bruni has been practicing yoga for 35 years, teaching students for 20 years, and training teachers for nearly two decades. Diane was the first Ashtanga yoga teacher in Canada. She co-founded the Downward Dog Yoga Centre, and hosted an internationally aired television series called Breathing Space Yoga.
Diane’s yoga journey began in 1978 while attending a yoga weekend with Yogi Bajhan. It was that powerfully formative experience that led to an in-depth study of Kundalini yoga under yogi Bajhan’s guidance. As her practice deepened, Diane developed a keen interest in the workings of subtle energies within the body. In 1980, Diane began formal studies in Eastern Healing Techniques at Toronto’s Kikkawa College of Shiatsu and Massage Therapy. She was taught by Mittsuki Kikkawa himself and graduated a certified Shiatsu therapist in 1983.
The following year Diane met Lisa Schwartz, a dancer and awesome yogini. Having just returned from 3 years of study in India with BKS Iyengar, Lisa became a very influential part of Diane’s Evolution. Diane was Lisa’s first student in Toronto and studied with her extensively for almost 10 years. The detailed alignment information and dynamic sequences prepared Diane for her first encounter with Ashtanga. Iyengar’s teaching, channeled through Lisa, were very precise but also dynamic, a perfect compliment to Jois’s Ashtanga. This dualistic approach allowed Diane a more full spectrum exploration of the teachings of yoga guru Krishnamacharya.
In 1993 Diane encountered Ashtanga yoga for the first time when she enrolled in a workshop series with Richard Freeman. Richard’s exquisite teaching resonated profoundly, and led Diane to delve into the 8-limbed Ashtanga practice. At the time there were no Ashtanga classes being offered in Canada, so Diane began teaching small groups in Toronto, and then, in 1997, she founded the Downward Dog Yoga Centre (DWD) with Ron Reid. Rooted in the Ashtanga tradition and open to all ages and levels, DWD became the first of its kind—a place where Toronto’s yoga community could congregate and grow. Diane was the heartbeat and the backbone of that enterprise. In her own words, “ I dedicated every waking moment of my life to that place. When I wasn’t with my family, I was there. The community that gathered was like my second family, and there was nothing more important to me in my life.”
For 16 years, as well as devoting herself to DWD, Diane contributed to the growth of a worldwide yoga community. The Ujjayi Pulse classes she created, with their euphoric blend of breath, movement and live drumbeat, drew scores of people to DWD. Diane was also responsible for inviting many of the world’s esteemed yoga teachers to DWD, namely Richard Freeman, Ana Forrest, Tim Miller, David Williams, Danny Paradise, David Life (Jivamukti yoga ), and Sharon Gannon (Jivamukti yoga). Very early on, Diane and Ron foresaw a growing need for yoga teachers and developed a Teacher Training Program at DWD that has since trained hundreds of students who now teach all over the world. And by creating and organizing retreats and teacher trainings, Diane managed to draw people to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, and Italy. Then in 2000, Diane brought yoga to her widest audience yet when she hosted the internally aired television series, ‘Breathing Space Yoga’. Moreover, in the healthcare realm, Diane developed the yoga program that is currently taught (30 classes/week) at all of Toronto’s University Healthcare Network hospitals.
In 2012, Diane was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She followed all conventional medical recommendations, and completed treatment 8 months later. Her healing journey with cancer has changed her perspective, given her new strength, and refocused her energies.
In 2012 Diane sold her shares at Downward Dog Yoga and opened 80 Gladstone Movement Studio. This alternative movement studio hosted classes in Axis Syllabus, Functional Strength and Conditioning, Somatic Movement, Contact Improv and many other alternative movement modalities. The studio become an incubator for many ideas including the inception of the Body Loop an elastic loop that enhances proprioception.
Her current interests revolve around building sustainable and diverse movement practices that flow away from traditional asana towards functional, somatic and therapeutic science based modalities. As Diane’s yoga journey continues to evolve, refine, and adapt itself, it reflects the very living, vital tradition that is Yoga and beyond.