What Makes American Power Yoga Unique?

Kurt Johnsen’s brand of American Power Yoga, a fusion of martial arts and Ashtanga and Tibetan yoga, is perhaps the greatest deviation from traditional yoga. Johansen has branded his form of power yoga as American Power Yoga (APY). The focus of APY is on gaining awareness while developing strength—inner and outer.

American Power Yoga Inc.

When choosing the right power yoga program for you, it is important to first differentiate between American-based power yoga and American Power Yoga, as developed and branded by Texan yogi and martial arts enthusiast Johnsen. Power yoga grew out of the Ashtanga yoga practice and focuses on strength and flexibility. It was first popularized by Beryl Bender Birch, an Ashtanga yoga practitioner who sought to develop a more athletic form of yoga to appeal to her close circle of marathon runners. She popularized power yoga through her best-selling books. Meanwhile, another Ashtanga follower, Byran Best was developing his form of power yoga and followers in Los Angeles.

Kurt Johnsen has studied with both Birch and Best. He also borrows from Bikram. Bikram Choudhury — an accomplished Indian yogi and luxury car salesman in Los Angeles who knows how to market a hot thing – hot yoga – added a new dimension to power yoga.  Hot yoga heats the room to 100 degrees to relax muscles and promote flexibility.

While Bikram’s yoga is known for its sauna-like room temperatures and adherence to 26 postures, Johansen’s American Power Yoga heats the room to only 85 degrees and fuses Western and Eastern yoga, exercises and philosophies. A key feature of all of these forms of power yoga is fluidity—flowing seamlessly from posture to posture to provide a vigorous workout.

American Power Yoga Fusion

Here, the similarities end. While Kurt Johnsen’s American Power Yoga seems to be constantly evolving, its signature is its combination of Tibetan Buddhism, traditional yoga techniques and martial arts. If your yoga routine needs some new inspiration, APY is an opportunity to explore ancient, old and new forms of yoga all rolled into one.

The strength in American Power Yoga is influenced by kung fu, while Johnsen’s overall philosophy is influenced by the Tibetan Lightning Fire Mountain System, a relatively new yoga practice that was developed in the 19th century by a Tibetan monk. APY incorporates Tai Chai in the warm-up and a breathing technique from Tibetan kung fu. Johnsen continues to mix it up, adding cross training, weights, and jumping rope, for example. Not for the light-hearted, APY’s new cross-training class promises an intense 45-minute workout.

Although based in Texas, American Power Yoga is spreading its fusion yoga practices through a DVD, and regular radio and TV appearances.  


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