Power yoga is defined as a vigorous, fitness-based approach to Vinyasa-style yoga. Power Yoga is a fitness-based Vinyasa practice. An offshoot of Ashtanga Yoga, it has many of the same qualities and benefits, including building internal heat, increased stamina, strength, and flexibility, and stress reduction. Teachers design their own sequences, while students synchronize their breath with their movement. Power Yoga was developed and founded by Beryl Bender Birch, but is now a term used to describe many vigorous Vinyasa styles.
Who Invented Power Yoga?
The term “power yoga” became popular during the mid-1990s when two American yoga teachers studied with Ashtanga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and brought it to Western yoga students. They also wanted to move away from the rigid Ashtanga sequence, which is a set series of poses in the same order.
Bryan Kest, in Los Angeles, and Beryl Bender Birch, in New York, are credited with invention of power yoga on opposite coasts. As a second generation of American Ashtanga students, Kest and Bender learned from Williams and Allen, among Jois’s first Western students. Overall, the source of Power yoga also includes Sivananda, Kundalini, and Iyengar yoga from Jois’ trips to the United States in the 1980s.
The term Power yoga was used to differentiate the intense, flowing style of yoga they were teaching from gentle stretching and meditation-based practices that many Americans associated with yoga.
Styles of Power Yoga
Jois’ Ashtanga yoga classes beginning in the 1980s also introduced power yoga on the west coast. Some instructors broke from Jois’s method by mixing poses from the first three Ashtanga series into an early style called “rocket yoga.”
Baron Baptiste is another well-known yoga teacher who has successfully established his own style of power yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa. Baptiste had also studied Iyengar and Bikram. Using the non-specific term power yoga gave each of these innovators the freedom to draw methods and poses from all their influences simultaneously to create something new.
Power yoga enthusiasts say it enhances stamina, flexibility, posture, and mental focus. Like all physical activities, it also relieves tension and releases toxins through sweat. Because it is rigorous, it burns more calories than most traditional forms of yoga and therefore can help with weight loss.
4 Key Things to Know About Power Yoga
- It has its roots in Ashtanga: Power Yoga definitely takes its cues from the practice made famous from Ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Two of the most recognizable names associated with power yoga, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest, personally studied under Pattabhi Jois!
- It moves quickly: Power Yoga is definitely an intense workout that will make you sweat. A traditional Ashtanga practice follows the same series of poses and makes you hold each for five breaths before moving through a Vinyasa. Power Yoga classes move with an even faster rhythm. There are very few moments of being in a pose and getting the feeling that it’s taking forever. Soon enough, you’ll be out and moving on to the next Asana.
- It’s great for strength training: Other forms of yoga may be ideal for flexibility and meditation, but in Power Yoga, you lift and hold your entire body’s weight constantly. These classes incorporate a serious number of Vinyasas, and they’re definitely going to get your entire body into gear. For one, your arms will definitely feel the burn from all those Chaturangas!
- It makes you feel energized: There’s a reason that so many people leave Power Yoga classes saying that they’re feeling a little “blissed out.” While I’ve left many a relaxing yoga class feeling happy, just wanting to take a bath and get into bed, Power Yoga classes always leave me feeling calm but with an extra little skip in my step! I often come home and tackle a load of chores after I’ve taken a Power Yoga class.
Many gyms and health clubs, in particular, have taken up the term to let their clientele know that this is a serious exercise. If you try a power yoga class, prepare to work hard, and to work up a sweat.