What is Power Yoga?

What is Power Yoga?

Power YogaPower yoga follows two schools of thought. One is based on the principles of Ashtanga yoga, and its notable proponent is Bryan Kest, who studied under yogi Pattabhi Jois, the yoga master credited with introducing the eightfold path of Ashtanga yoga to Westerners in the 1970s. The other school of power yoga was developed by Baron Baptiste, who emphasizes the fitness aspect of yoga, rather than the contemplative element common in traditional yoga. Baptiste introduced power yoga to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles as part of their conditioning program in the 1990s and incorporated the techniques of Vinyasa, or flow, yoga that uses breathwork to transition between poses.

Both methods of power yoga have two similar qualities:

  1.  there is no formal structure in terms of performing the asanas (poses);
  2. both utilize the sun salutation, or Surya Namaskar, set of poses in their routines.

Ultimately, it’s up to the teacher to determine the progression of postures. Power yoga places an emphasis on flexibility and conditioning and is fairly common in gyms as an adjunct to aerobic-type classes.

In power yoga classes the Surya Namaskar poses focus on the core muscles in the stomach and waist. These poses flow into each other under the direction of the teacher with controlled breathing techniques (pranayama); and after each asana is performed, students are given a strength training element to perform. This is where the Western element of “power yoga” comes into play. Students are typically instructed to maintain their poses longer than the standard five breaths expected in conventional Vinyasa classes, which increases their flexibility and endurance levels. The focus on the core muscle groups also strengthens the lower back, an area prone to injury in athletes.

Power yoga can be performed in a hot studio, with temperatures ranging between 100 and 105 degrees, which allow students to experience greater flexibility by warming up the muscles faster, or classes are conducted in a more comfortable setting. Whether the classes are held in a formal studio or as another class offering in a typical gym, the goal of power yoga is to increase the student’s fitness level and well-being through proper breathing techniques, postures and focus.