What is Power Yoga?
Power Yoga is an energetic type of yoga that is flow based. Stemming from Ashtanga Yoga, it builds heat in the body, tones, burns fat, energizes and develops strength. While the term Power Yoga is now sort of an umbrella term to describe different active Vinyasa Yoga styles, the original Power Yoga was founded by a teacher named Beryl Bender Birch.
You may have already tried Power Yoga without realizing it. Because of the multitude of terms and disciplines within yoga, there is overlap from one category to another. Power Yoga can be considered a vinyasa flow. You move the whole class and get your heart rate up. You get a cardiovascular workout with Power Yoga and it can be used to strengthen and tone the body or to lose weight.
Whereas Ashtanga Yoga features a repetition of poses, Power Yoga changes with each class. There is a focus on standing postures since getting the legs involved works the entire body and core. The practice is much more accessible than a traditional Ashtanga class in that you needn’t have memorized all the poses and postures.
Yoga as Exercise
Of course, not all yoga is about exercise. Yin Yoga, for example, is incredibly slow paced. Power Yoga, by contrast, is definitely a form of yoga as exercise.
Some criticize Power Yoga because they say it takes away from the meditative, spiritual aspect of yoga and only focuses on the physical transformation. This is somewhat backwards, and if viewed another way, it makes more sense as to why Power Yoga fills a niche:
Bender Birch noticed that athletes had trouble with many of the Ashtanga Yoga poses. Though these athletes spent much of their time working on their bodies, their muscles were too tight to do the poses. She created Power Yoga, initially called Yoga for Athletes, to be a gateway yoga class that people would join seeking better abs and tighter glutes, and without realizing it be introduced to aspects of yoga. So while Power Yoga may seem watered down to some, there is a need for this type of yoga because every practitioner can’t just jump straight into a high level class. They also may not want to if they don’t see something that they recognize in a more complex yoga practice, but a Power Yoga class seems familiar to athletes.
What Kind of Teacher will Work for Me in Power Yoga?
As with finding the right teacher in any class, you want to find someone who works for you. Power Yoga is a place where people can become too focused on doing things harder and longer, and you can end up hurting yourself, so a good teacher is especially important. If a teacher seems like they’re all about creating the burn and working faster rather than you being comfortable, you might want to try out a different Power Yoga instructor. An instructor who has knowledge in other areas of yoga will have a more well rounded understanding of Power Yoga and how it fits in as a practice. Even when one of your goals is to “feel the burn,” you should still feel comfortable and safe with your instructor.