Power Yoga is the name given to the group of Indian yoga styles that have been adjusted to appeal to Western sensibilities. Power yoga emphasizes physical flexibility while providing a workout that is strenuous enough to raise your heart rate.
Differences Between Power Yoga and Regular Yoga
Power yoga requires the participant to synchronize their breathing with their movements. By focusing on their breathing, yoga practitioners can push their bodies to deeper postures or poses. When you want to go further into a pose, you breathe into it. It may sound strange to those not familiar with yoga, but you really can link your breath to your body to the point that breathing gives you a deeper stretch in your pose.
Another difference is that in power yoga, you hold the poses much longer. This provides a greater challenge to your muscles because you continue to hold the pose even after you begin to feel fatigue. Think of doing a push up and holding at the top of it. After a few seconds your arm muscles will begin to shake. Maintaining the proper push up form then becomes harder and thus provides you with a better workout. In power yoga you sometimes hold poses even longer than the required five breaths.
Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is the Indian scholar who taught the Ashtanga style of yoga to western yoga teachers. In Ashtanga there is one breath for each movement. The movements are meant to flow together seamlessly and thus produce detoxification through sweating.
Bikram yoga is often called hot yoga. This is because it is performed in a room that is about one hundred degrees. This is to mimic the temperatures of India. This program follows a strict sequence that begins with a pranayama, or breathing exercise. This is followed by 24 asanas or poses that are often performed twice. The practice ends with a final breathing exercise. Bikram yoga was created by Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury.
Iyengar yoga was developed by Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar based on ancient Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is a physically challenging type of yoga that emphasizes body bending poses and proper breathing. In Iyengar, emphasis is placed on correct body alignment and achieving precision in the poses. Standing poses are also very important to proper Iyengar yoga practices. Iyengar yoga encourages the use of props such as blocks or straps to get the body into proper alignment to get the most from the poses. This makes Iyengar beginner friendly.
Choosing between Them
Iyengar is considered less intimidating and therefore is a good place for the beginning yoga student to start. Ashtanga builds on the strict position attainment of Iyengar by speeding up the pose to pose movement to create sweat. Bikram practice should be delayed until the yoga student is comfortable with poses, body alignment and proper breathing. You need yoga experience before you attempt working out in the challenging hot temperatures of Bikram.
Power yoga offers choices that will allow you to challenge yourself as you develop your yoga skills.