Power Yoga a Complete Guide (Yoga Poses, Benefits & History)
The prospect of healthy living is a priority in everyone’s life. As defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Thus, all these 3 aspects along with a stable emotional quotient become essential for a healthy mind and body. In this post, let us know more about power yoga, power yoga poses, and the health benefits of it.
We have devised many techniques to manage these parameters. For example, aerobic exercises are known for their effectiveness in improving the cardiovascular functions of the body and moderate-intensity activities like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, etc would help in building the stamina and strength of the body.
The Basics of Yoga
Yoga is one such method that has been known to men for ages. Precisely, the beginnings of yoga date back to 5000 years and were practiced in the northern part of India. Over the years, the wisdom of this ancient art has been shared with people across the globe and it has taken roots in almost every country now. This was mainly due to the many yoga masters who traveled the world to impart ancient knowledge and create followers for the same.
6 different form of yoga form the basics:
- Raja Yoga
- Bhakti Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Karma Yoga
- Mantra Yoga
- Hatha Yoga
The Advent of Power Yoga
Traditional yoga practices are often found to be rigid. Not many could continue its practice due to these stringent rules and dogma. With these points in mind, Bryan Kest (based in Los Angeles) and Beryl Bender Birch (based in New York), are credited with the formation of this new yoga technique. Both went to India to learn Ashtanga yoga along with Guru Sri. K. Pattabhi.
Bryan started adding poses of his own to the established sequences whenever he found more comfort by doing so. Soon, he broke down the rigid and lengthy sequences of Ashtanga yoga into a series of mini-sequences that were short and energetic.
The inventors describe power yoga in two words: Freedom and Discovery. They stepped out of the traditional method and took to discovering poses that gave them the freedom to explore beyond. Power yoga brings physical practice to meditation and hence provides mindful meditation practices.
It has grown into a fitness-based and vigorous approach to the yogic practice. The concept of power yoga has attracted the attention and interest of people especially the youth. There are certain points which differentiate power yoga from other forms:
- There are no rigid sequences; one can teach any pose in any order.
- It is an intense and free-flowing yoga practice
- The movements are quicker than traditional yoga
- There is more stress on physical exercises
- Helps to burn calories and keep you fit
- It is stimulating, pumping and relaxing at the same time
When to avoid doing Power Yoga
- If you are unfit or feel sick– Power yoga requires good physical fitness; else, it might worsen the condition.
- Pregnancy– It is not recommended to perform power yoga when you are pregnant. The asanas or poses might cause complications to either the baby or the mother. (There are other types of yoga for expecting mothers called prenatal yoga).
- When there are chronic ailments– Patients suffering from chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes should not try power yoga as it could cause further harm.
Power Yoga Poses
The revamped version of traditional yoga in the form of power yoga is popular among the newer generation. It is fast-paced and has different poses that are variations of the older versions. Some of the most well-known poses are outlined below:
1. Ardha Chandrasana or the Half-moon Pose
The person doing this pose looks like a half-moon. It is a type of asana followed in Hatha yoga. It should be performed in an empty stomach either at dawn or dusk for the best results.
How to do
- Place the left hand on the left hip and inhale while bending the right knee.
- Move the right foot forward about 12 inches and place the right hand beyond the toes of the right foot.
- Exhale and move the right hand on the floor and press it down along with straightening the right leg.
- Maintain the position and twist the upper torso to the left and move the left hip slightly forward.
- Place the left hand on the left hip and keep the head neutral by gazing forward.
- The entire body weight should be supported on the leg and hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat for the next side.
It strengthens the buttocks, legs, and spine. This pose helps to build coordination and balance.
Read More: Best Ramdev Baba Yoga Asanas for Weight Loss
2. Paripurna Naukasana or the Boat Pose
This pose gives a v-shaped body resembling a boat. It is an intermediate asana in Ashtanga yoga. It is recommended to perform this pose on an empty stomach and clean bowels.
How to do
- Sit erect with legs stretched in front. Place your hands behind the hips and lean back.
- Breathe out and lift your legs to 45 degrees from the floor. Move your hips closer to the navel and straighten your knees.
- Try to lift the toes to the eye-level. Make sure you are sitting on your buttocks and tailbone.
- Breathe normally and hold the pose for 10 to 20 seconds and release the pose.
This asana helps in strengthening the abdomen and aids digestion. It also helps to stimulate the intestines and the thyroid gland. Boat pose helps to relieve stress and stay confident.
Read More: Best Yoga Poses to Increase Height
3. Ustrasana or the Camel Pose
The backbend in this pose resembles the stance of a camel and hence the name. It is generally done early morning with an empty stomach and clean bowels for the best results. It is included in the Vinyasa yoga.
How to do
- Kneel on the yoga mat and place your hands on the hips.
- Ensure that the knees and shoulders are in line with the sole of feet facing upwards.
- Inhale and move your tailbone in towards the pubis till you feel the pull in your navel.
- Arch your back and slide your palms over the feet and straighten your arms.
- Maintain the neck in a neutral position and hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds and release.
it is a great way to strengthen the back and shoulders. Camel pose helps to keep a good posture and builds the thigh muscles. It helps to improve respiration and relieves lower back pain.
Health Benefits of Power Yoga
Like any other yoga practice, power yoga has its own set of benefits for health. Since power yoga resembles aerobic exercises, the effects on the cardiovascular system, in particular, are many. It is a great form of workout routine.
1. Supports Strength Training
In power yoga, the person lifts and holds his/her entire weight constantly. This will help them to work on the core muscles and improve their strength. The entire body works and thus burns all the unnecessary calories from the body (1).
2. Improves Energy Levels
The intense power yoga session can make you feel energized after becoming a routine. Though the initial stages can have a little strain on your body, further sessions will leave you feeling calm and energetic.
3. Increases Flexibility
Like other yoga practices, power yoga also helps in building the flexibility of your body. The series of poses will help you in relaxing your entire body and improve the flexibility of body parts(2).
4. Improves Mental Focus
All the movements and poses in power yoga are quick and flowing. It demands full concentration throughout sequences. Thus, there is a better mental focus for the followers (3).
5. Better Posture
The yoga sequence generally requires perfect body postures and would be easy to follow after constant practice. This will help you to maintain good postures throughout the day (4).
6. Stress Buster
The effects of yoga on relieving tension are well-known. Power yoga is sure to release loads of endorphins that will keep you calm and tension-free. It is a great way to unwind after a stressful day. It prevents anxiety and depression (5).
7. Keeps you Fit
Since power yoga burns down lots of calories similar to a normal workout routine, it is a great way to remain fit.
8. Boosts Immunity
The yoga sequence can stimulate the lymphatic system in the body which supports the immune system. This helps in flushing out harmful toxins from the body and keeps you healthy.
9. Quality Sleep
The intense power yoga session can help you get good quality sleep at night. This is because the body needs good rest after getting stimulated, stretched and tired(6).
10. Strengthens Bones
11. Improves Blood Circulation
Power yoga involves a series of poses that are sure to enhance the blood circulation in the body. This will improve the overall health of the body and can be seen in the form of a glowing and healthy skin tone (8).
Some yoga teachers have developed their styles of power yoga by adding different nuances.
- Larry Schultz Approach: He developed a variant of power yoga in his San Francisco studio called the ‘It’s Yoga’. This was in the early 1990s. He mixed various poses from Ashtanga Yoga and created new ones. Later he named it ‘Rocket Yoga’.
- Baron Baptiste Approach: His variant is now termed as ‘Baptiste Power Vinyasa’. He combined the teachings of both Ashtanga, Bikram Yoga, and Iyengar into these sequences.