Power yoga is an athletic form of yoga that began taking shape in the United States in the 1980’s. It is derived from Ashtanga yoga — a sequence of specific poses practiced in the same order every time — but designed with greater flexibility in its structure. While the term power yoga can refer to any vigorous practice, expect a fast-paced and intense workout that will make you sweat no matter the format. Cody’s Ultimate Guide to Power Yoga for Beginners will help you get to know the ins and outs of this dynamic practice.
Power Yoga for Beginners
Despite the athletic nature of the practice, power yoga for beginners may be an entry point into the world of yoga for those who desire a bridge between the Western tendency towards intense fitness and the more fluid nature of yoga. As a beginner, understanding the background of this style of yoga and how to get started will help you make the most of your experience.
Get to Know Power Yoga
Power yoga describes any vigorous, athletic, and more fitness-based approach to yoga. While intensity is a key feature, vinyasa flows are also utilized to create continuous, fluid movement. Beryl Bender Birch, Bryan Kest, and Baron Baptiste are names frequently associated with the development of power yoga. While power yoga can go by many names including power vinyasa, power flow, Baptiste power yoga, and hot power yoga, the common theme throughout all forms is a strength-focused practice that builds endurance and stamina. Sometimes referred to as “gym yoga,” this style embraces the athletic potential of yoga with less emphasis on the spiritual or meditation side of more traditional styles.
Power yoga provides many benefits that overlap with other styles of yoga including:
- Increased strength, flexibility, and stamina
- A low-impact approach to strength-building
- Internal heat-building
- Decreased stress
- Improved mood
This yoga practice is a great option for those who like fast-paced workouts. The athletic nature of the practice is perfect for those involved in sports or those who are used to higher intensity workouts and want to carry that intensity in a yoga practice. Power yoga is also a good choice for anyone that prefers to focus on the physical nature of movement rather than the meditation and spirituality aspects present in other forms of yoga.
Learning to prep, move, recover, and celebrate as you explore power yoga is the key to this energetic practice. With so many diverse class styles of power yoga, such as the use of heated rooms or music, it may take some experimenting to find your perfect fit. The payoff, though, is an exciting and uplifting yoga practice to add to your routine.
Finding the right yoga environment is important in ensuring a positive experience, and can take a bit of preparation. Here are some common questions and answers you might have when getting started with power yoga for beginners:
- What should I look for in a teacher? Your personal connection to an instructor is a primary consideration to keep in mind. Seeking a teacher that is approachable, able to provide an energizing experience, and trained to provide modifications is always a good choice.
- Do I need any special equipment? A yoga mat, towel, and water are all you need to get started with power yoga.
- Is power yoga okay for beginners? The great variety of power yoga classes makes it a great fit for both beginner and advanced yogis. If you’re a bit nervous, try a class specifically designed for beginners or one that is of shorter duration.
- Where can I find classes? Power yoga is a popular form of fitness in most gyms across the country, or you could get started at home with Briohny Smyth’s Power Vinyasa.
Now that you are ready to practice, it is natural to wonder what you will experience during a power yoga session. The following questions and answers will help you understand the dynamic of a power yoga class:
- What should I expect in a class? Expect to get your heart-rate up and be ready to sweat! The practice primarily geared around physical movement, so you won’t find as much of a heavy focus on meditation or yoga philosophy. Movement linked to breath will be utilized to create a continuous flow of movement, and some classes may incorporate music or heated rooms as well.
- What is the structure of a class? Power yoga classes have no standard sequence. However, a general blueprint that you might encounter could include:
- integrative postures (child’s pose, downward-facing dog)
- warm-up (sun salutations)
- standing balancing postures (tree pose, eagle pose)
- warrior and triangle poses
- backbending postures (bow pose, camel pose)
- core-strengthening movements (boat pose)
- hip openers (hero pose, pigeon pose)
- inversions (headstand, shoulder stand)
- closing savasana
- How long are classes? Most classes range from 30-60 minutes, but some may be 90 minutes long.
- What poses can I expect? Strength-building poses like chaturanga, plank, chair, and warrior are featured heavily in power yoga.
Recover & Celebrate
Now that you have moved and sweat, it is time to recover and celebrate. Here are some tips to help you take care of your body and mind so that you are ready for your next power yoga class:
- Drink water. Power yoga is a sweaty practice. That means that in addition to staying hydrated during the practice, it is also important to hydrate afterward.
- Practice restorative yoga to find balance. While intense exercise is an invigorating experience, our bodies also need to recover in gentler ways. Restorative yoga is a wonderful option to continue your exploration of various types of yoga, while relieving tension, and increasing mobility. Restore and Rejuvenate is a perfect plan to incorporate on rest days to provide balance to your higher-intensity yoga sessions.
- Practice self-love: When we value ourselves, we are more likely to do things that are good for us — such as returning to the mat. Celebrating yourself with self-love practices is a great complement to your physical wellness routine.
The beauty of yoga is the various styles available to help you discover your path to wellness. Power yoga may become your primary practice, or the change of pace you need to keep your practice fresh. Check out this power yoga sequence to try out a flow today!