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What Is Power Yoga + Benefits and How to Get Started

My Yoga Teacher

Posted on May 25, 2021 #fitness

What Is Power Yoga?

Power yoga is a fast-paced Vinyasa-style yoga that was modeled on Ashtanga and is heavy on cardio, is physically demanding, and emphasizes dynamic movement over meditative movement. Power yoga classes typically include fewer poses that are held for longer. As opposed to Vinyasa classes, which include more poses held for shorter periods.

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Millions of people around the world practice yoga for its physical, mental, and emotional benefits. In the West, power yoga is one of the most popular types of yoga. Power yoga is geared towards athletes and most classes follow a flow of fast-paced movements that are more physically demanding than other yoga styles.

Power yoga might look different depending on where you practice, but there are a few key characteristics that most classes have in common:

  • Poses are held for a longer period of time (up to a minute) to help build strength
  • The classes are built to increase heart rate
  • Poses include a blend of Vinyasa and Ashtanga

Origins of Power Yoga

Power yoga is an offshoot of Ashtanga yoga and doesn't stick to a set sequence of asanas as Ashtanga does. It came to popularity in the United States in the mid-1990s when Bryan Kest and Beryl Bender Birch separately took the Ashtanga yoga method and transformed it into a less rigid style of yoga. Yoga Journal credits Birch with creating "the original power yoga" in 1995, though Bryan Kest seems to be the one who actually coined the phrase.

Kest says that the original name was "empower yoga," but that he shortened it to "power yoga" because it was just easier to say. He jokes that he even considered changing the name to "grandma yoga" because he believed that anyone could do it.

When you consider that power yoga has oft been viewed as the realm of athletes or other already physically fit people, that might come as a surprise. However, Kest's "empower yoga" was intended to encourage practitioners to honor the needs of their own bodies during power yoga classes. This might mean you challenge yourself to do something you didn't think possible and it could also mean that you skip poses that just aren't possible for you.

What to Expect From a Power Yoga Class

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If you've never experienced a power yoga class, you're in for a treat. As we mentioned earlier, power yoga is a blend of Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga. These classes offer immediate benefits and help you live a healthier, happier life. Here's what to expect from the typical power yoga class.

You Will Sweat

Hydrate before, during, and after your power yoga class. Also, you'll want to have a towel handy to keep things dry and safe.

You Will Be Challenged Physically

Power yoga is hard. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Holding poses for a minute or more is challenging on your body and the fast pace of these classes can make it more difficult to keep up. That doesn't mean that beginners can't participate in and get a lot out of power yoga classes. Just do what you can, push your comfort zone a bit, and have fun.

You Will Be Challenged Mentally

In addition to the physical challenges of power yoga, there are mental challenges to such an intense practice, too. Even if you're already familiar with yoga, be prepared for how power yoga comes together to create a unique challenge.

Benefits of Power Yoga

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Like all types of yoga, power yoga has its fair share of both physical and mental benefits. It's associated with improved posture and balance, better sleep, and a stronger immune system, for starters. Here are a few other benefits of power yoga to keep in mind.

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness

Power yoga is fast-paced and endurance-based. This makes it a great option for improving cardiovascular health. Performing a cardio-heavy practice like power yoga regularly can help you strengthen your heart and lungs, improve cholesterol levels, control blood sugar and blood pressure, improve sleep, boost energy, and a whole lot more.

Increased Strength

Since power yoga includes long holds of certain poses, you'll find increased strength a benefit of the practice. As you hold a static pose for a period of time, your body will engage the muscles needed to keep you stable in the pose, increasing strength and endurance.

Improved Circulation

Power yoga is going to get your heart rate pumping. In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, the increased heart rate also leads to better circulation. This means nutrients and oxygen will flow throughout your body better.

Better Stamina

Power yoga is a full-body strength and cardiovascular workout that will help improve your stamina (the ability of your body to sustain prolonged physical and mental effort).

Improved Motor Function

A 2016 study found that people with Parkinson's disease who practiced power yoga two times a week had significant improvements in tremors and muscle rigidity. Further, power yoga increased muscle strength and power in study participants.

Reduced Stress

Despite the fact that power yoga is less meditative than other types of yoga, it still contributes to overall reductions in stress and anxiety and promotes feelings of calm and relaxation. A 2017 study found that power yoga decreases the body's cortisol levels and suggests that just a single power yoga session might prompt a noticeable reduction in stress.

Join myYogaTeacher for a Safe and Effective Power Yoga Experience

Power yoga is a fast-paced yoga style that will help you build strength and endurance. While it does require you to be mindful of your breathing, it's not a meditative class. Instead, power yoga emphasizes dynamic, powerful movements and long holds of poses to get the most physical benefit.

While power yoga can be practiced safely by just about anyone, the practice isn't suitable for everyone. Pregnant people are cautioned against power yoga as certain poses can cause complications during pregnancy. If you're pregnant, check out one of our prenatal yoga classes and save the power yoga for postpartum!

In addition to pregnancy, there are a few other reasons you might want to avoid power yoga:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Recent surgery
  • Recent physical injuries

If any of the above apply to you, that doesn't mean you absolutely can't practice power yoga. However, you should definitely seek out the advice of your doctor for approval.

If you like to sweat, power yoga is probably a good fit for you. If you have some experience with yoga and a decent level of fitness, why not give it a shot? Join a power yoga class with myYogaTeacher! Sign up for a free two-week trial and get access to 35+ live online classes every day.

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