Many different yoga styles have developed over the years, from Bikram to Ashtanga to Tantric. All of these styles are taught in their own way, but each has its roots in classical style, which focuses on alignment between the body, mind, and soul. Of course, not everyone is interested in the spiritual side of yoga. For those who are searching for a strictly fitness-based version of the ancient practice, Power Yoga is the perfect solution. Developed in the ’90s by Ashtanga students looking to make the vigorous but rigid style more accessible to Westerners, Power Yoga does not conform to any set poses and allows for more teacher creativity and flexibility. Power Yoga is often known as “gym yoga” because of its prevalence in fitness studios instead of traditional yoga studios.
One significant advantage of Power Yoga is its focus on strength training rather than flexibility. There are typically fewer total poses that are held for a more extended period, and they are guaranteed to make you sweat. Some studios will even heat the room a bit, similar to Bikram yoga. It’s also the go-to yoga style for weight loss. If you feel like you’ve neglected your muscles a bit but don’t want to stray from yoga, here’s a sample of what you might expect to do in a Power Yoga class:
As with any exercise, you’ll want to start with some simple stretches. Seated Spinal Twist and Forward Fold are both common in any yoga class.
How To Do:
- Seated Spinal Twist – Start in a sitting position with your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring your foot towards your pelvis, leaving the leg resting on the ground. Bring the left leg up and over the right, resting your left foot beside your right thigh. Next, lift your chest and reach your spin up, then hook your right arm over your left knee, twisting your torso to the left. Breathe here for five breaths, and then switch sides.
- Forward Fold – From Mountain pose (standing with your back straight, feet hip distance apart), slowly begin to bend from the hips and reach your arms down to the floor. Draw your forehead to your knees, bending them as needed.
A key component of Vinyasa is the way each pose flows into the next. This smooth transition is a part of Power Yoga as well. The main difference lies in the speed at which you transition between poses and how long each pose is held. Power Yoga moves quickly between poses, but once you are in a pose, time seems to slow down. Each position is held longer than it would be in Vinyasa, which is why Power Yoga is good for strength training.
Common poses you will be flowing through are:
- Chair Pose
- Warrior I and III
- Revolved Side Angle
- Four-Limbed Staff
- And many variations of Downward Dog.
Of course, every teacher will have their favorites.
While traditional yoga is more closely linked to meditation, Power Yoga is first and foremost a workout. Grab your mat (and plenty of towels) and get ready to sweat!