What is power yoga?

18 August 2021 | By Yogobe

Power yoga is a dynamic form of yoga that focuses on strength, endurance, balance and flexibility. It was developed in the USA in the 80's with inspiration from ashtanga and vinyasa yoga. A sweaty yoga form that gives the body a real workout and sharpens your focus.


Power yoga – the story behind the yoga style

It was in the late 1980s that Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest developed power yoga. It then spread rapidly across the United States, became trendy with several famous names that appeared with a yoga mat under the arm and the yoga form continued around western Sweden during the 90s and 00s. The two founders developed their similar yoga forms at about the same time but independently of each other, one on the east coast of the United States and the other on the west coast. They had both the same but also a slightly different entrance to the purpose:

Beryl Bender Birch trained ashtanga yoga herself, which is an athletic yoga form that requires strength as well as flexibility and endurance. Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is also the yoga form, which is performed in strict series where you perform the same positions in the same order every time and only when you pass series 1 can you move on to 2.

Beryl realized that many positions were too difficult for the majority of participants. She therefore designed a scheme with the aim of better fitting stiffer bodies, especially athletes and runners she chose to focus on. At first she thought that the form would be called yoga for athletes, but then landed in Power yoga just to show that the form is physically demanding "a true work out" and not just meditation.

Bryan Kest rather wanted to create a form of yoga that suited everyone and played for a while with the name "Grandma yoga" so that all grandmothers and grandmothers could feel welcome in the hall.

Fitness yoga that "meets the participant where it is"

Over time, power yoga became a common name for several different forms of more physically demanding vinyasa yoga classes, with or without a heated hall, usually with music. The plan is usually to start with breathing exercises, sun salutation A and B and then follow standing positions for strength and balance, and ending with stretching positions and relaxation. Breathing, often ujjayi breathing, is basic through the class and the mental focus as well.

The yoga philosophy is not mentioned in the classes, as power yoga is seen more as a fitness variant of yoga. The two founders have the philosophy with them but push to "meet the participant where it is" and if it is for fitness reasons, then that is where you start, they say. Through the physical positions, attention, body presence, and listening to one's limits are practiced at the same time. To practice yoga as it feels good for oneself and not how one thinks it should look or be. In this way, they wanted to make yoga available to a wider mass.

Baron Baptiste was one of those who popularized the yoga form and Ulrica Norberg was one of the earliest to spread power yoga in Sweden. In 2002, she published the book Poweryoga, which describes the yoga form as being able to become “as fit and strong as an athlete, agile and graceful as a dancer. You achieve a mental strength, higher body awareness and an inner peace. Here it is important to listen inwards, follow the feeling and work with the body, not against it! ”

Benefits of power yoga

  • Increases physical strength, endurance and stability
  • Mobility and agility are trained
  • Increases heart rate and increases blood circulation
  • Promotes body presence
  • Focus on breathing and mental focus provide meditation in motion
  • For those who find it difficult to relax, the physical challenges during the class can help to release tension in the body and more easily relax in savasana at the end and then get their beneficial recovery.

Source: One flow yoga and Power Yoga by Ulrica Norberg.

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