What is Power Yoga?

What is Power YogaWith so many different types of yoga, it can get confusing when it comes to choosing the one that’s right for you and your fitness and spiritual goals. From Iyengar, Kundalini, and Yin Yoga, to Hatha, Bikram, and Jivamukti, there’s a unique style of yoga available for everyone. The key is finding out what each one has to offer for your body, mind, and spirit so that you can determine the style that you’d derive the most benefits from. If you are new to the practice, though, you can try this yoga course for beginners and for individuals who lead busy lives.

Introduction to Power Yoga

One of the more popular forms of yoga today is known as Power Yoga. It’s also a much newer form of yoga because it was created in the 1980s by Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest. For those who prefer to follow more traditional styles of yoga, Power Yoga may seem too much like an exercise that you would enjoy at the gym. The name itself implies an intense workout that goes beyond what traditional yoga offers to give you a full-body workout that gets you sweating before cooling you off with relaxation poses and the famous savasana at the end of each class. 

The truth is that yoga is accessible for all people from all over the world. As this blog post states, yoga is great for the elderly, for those recovering from injuries, for individuals who deal with a lot of stress in their lives, and even for pregnant women. Power Yoga simply takes your typical yoga practice to the next level. Some people love it while some people find that they prefer other styles instead.

Traditional Meets Modern

The creators of Power Yoga, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest, studied yoga under Pattabhi Jois, but they wanted to bring something new to the table. While Beryl established Power Yoga on the East coast, Bryan started his own school on the West coast of the United States. Before long, people were flocking to this athletic form of yoga that incorporates traditional postures with aerobic flows to get the heart rate up, get the sweat flowing, and get the mind to forget about everything else and focus on the present moment only.

Unlike traditional yoga practiced in the East, Power Yoga really appeals to Westerners who aren’t too interested in the spiritual aspects of the practice and would rather focus more upon the incredible physical benefits they can derive from this transformative workout. Nevertheless, under the right yoga instructor, a Power Yoga class can certainly incorporate all of the traditional and spiritual philosophies associated with this ancient practice.

Closely Related to Ashtanga Yoga

Despite appealing to individuals in the West and putting a new spin on traditional yoga, Power Yoga is actually based in Ashtanga Yoga, which originated in Mysore, India. This is yet another challenging form of yoga because you move through each flow rather quickly by using the breath to navigate from one asana to the next. It wasn’t until 1975 that Ashtanga Yoga made its way to the United States, thanks to Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

In Ashtanga Yoga, there are a few series of poses that you need to master in a sequence. So, as you get stronger and more limber, you move from easier poses to more challenging ones. This allows you to continually build strength and stamina because, again, the practice moves quickly to get a good cardiovascular workout. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, check out this introductory course on Ashtanga Yoga.

Building Strength, Endurance, and Flexibility Gently

Like Ashtanga Yoga, Power Yoga will build your strength, endurance, and flexibility. But rather than pushing the body to its limits like you would at the gym or during other fitness routines, Power Yoga always reinforces the concept that you need to honor what your body is feeling during each and every class. For example, you may be more limber one day but very stiff the next. Instead of pushing your body to be as flexible as you were the day before, you would work with it to just do what you can that day. This takes a lot of stress off of the yogis in class, who may feel the need to perform better than the people next to them.

Power Yoga is about the individual working within his or her own limits while gently progressing and improving as the body adapts to the poses and gets stronger. And Power Yoga also encourages yogis to modify asanas rather than pushing themselves into the form that they think is the only way to express a pose.

Connecting the Body With the Mind Through Breath

Although Power Yoga appears to be a purely physical workout on the surface, there is a bit of emphasis upon the spiritual aspects of the practice. After all, yoga is based upon the concept of unifying the body with the mind and the spirit. Lacking those connections will reduce the effectiveness and ultimate purpose of the practice.

The key to practicing Power Yoga effectively lies in establishing a calm, focused, and centered mind that gets you through even the most difficult poses and flows with more ease and inner calmness. By using the breath and focusing on the breath with each asana, you can continue to oxygenate the body and ensure you make it to the end of the practice, but you can always rest in child’s pose whenever necessary as well, especially if you’re a beginner. Once you learn to keep the breath moving fluidly in and out of your nose, and once you learn to focus your mind on each pose, you’ll notice a positive shift and a connection between your body and mind that’s difficult to describe until it’s experienced.

Variety is the Spice of Power Yoga

One of the most appealing aspects of Power Yoga is the fact that every class offers a different flow, targeting different areas of the body to build strength and flexibility. Rather than becoming accustomed to doing the same series of asanas during each class like you would in Ashtanga or Bikram Yoga, Power Yoga keeps your body guessing, which is part of the reason why it’s so effective.

This aspect of the practice, therefore, really appeals to those who are looking for variety and who would rather master myriad poses rather than stick with the same ones every time they get on the mat. Beginners, however, can benefit by taking this course, which decodes yoga poses, before diving into a Power Yoga session.

Is it Right for You?

Power Yoga is a challenge even for athletes, so don’t expect it to be an easy workout, especially if you have never done it before. You will probably notice your muscles are quite sore after the first couple of sessions, but your body will inevitably get stronger the longer you stay consistent. Getting on the mat every day will ensure you are able to improve your balance, stamina, and strength. And a good instructor will teach you how to connect what you are experiencing on the mat with what you experience in your everyday life.

If you are an established yogi, you can take your practice to the next level by taking this course on Power Yoga, which will also prepare you for teaching the practice to others if you wish. Although there are so many benefits that can be derived from this style of yoga, you won’t know whether it’s really right for you or not until you give it a try.