From Travis Eliot, yoga instructor and Evenflow Teacher
Power Yoga has become one the most popular forms of yoga and exercise on the planet! Power Yoga is the offspring of Ashtanga Yoga, which was developed by Pattabi Jois and is a set series of yoga postures that are strong and athletic. The difference between the two is that Power Yoga is more improvisational. In Power Yoga, the sequences are always changing. It’s like going from classical music to jazz. Like Jazz, a Power Yoga class can spin on a dime. Both Ashtanga and Power Yoga link breath rhythmically with movements, to create a flow. The pioneer of Power Yoga, Bryan Kest, came up with the name, because this style of yoga is meant to ‘empower’ you on all levels! When I discovered Power Yoga, back in 2003, it was love at first sight! I had no idea that yoga could be so dynamic! Let’s explore the top three benefits of having a Power Yoga routine.
1. Power Yoga makes you “Strong Like Steel.”
Power Yoga is well known for being one of the most athletic forms of yoga. A Power Yoga practice will use certain postures that challenge your strength. Sometimes we think, that in order to get strong, we have to lift artificial weights. Unless you are trying to look like “The Rock,” this is unnecessary. Your body IS your weight, and you are lifting that weight repeatedly throughout the routine. As a result your muscles will become stronger and more toned. Since yoga has a diverse range of poses to tap into, you will strengthen just about every muscle in the human body. Using your natural body weight you will build proportionate muscular strength, meaning you will have a strong but natural look. Lastly, as a bonus, the effects of strength even benefit the bones. The weight bearing yoga postures activate osteoblasts. These osteoblasts make the bones less brittle and much more healthy.
2. Power Yoga makes you “Flexible Like a Shaolin Fighting Monk.”
The famous Shaolin Fighting Monks were named after a tree called the Shaolin tree. They were very inspired by this special tree. When fierce storms would blow through, very often, the Shaolin Trees would be the only ones left standing. This was because of both its strength and flexibility. Without flexibility, you will easily snap. Once you reach a certain age, usually the late 20s, if you don’t stretch your body accumulates tension. Excessive tension in the body causes all sorts of problems. You lose range of motion, and if you’re not careful you will grow older looking like the Tin Man/Woman from the Wizard of Oz. Also, tightness in the body creates resistance. It takes more energy to move the body, even simple movements. Imagine driving your car around with the emergency break engaged. This is what you are doing to the body when you don’t stretch. Power Yoga has you covered because at the same time you are building strength, you are also creating length. Since Power Yoga builds significant heat, this warmth will help to melt the tensions away. At the end of your class, you will be floating through the rest of your day!
3. Power Yoga makes you “Happy as a Peach.”
There was a famous happiness study that was done where they studied thousands of different people. What this study determined was very interesting! People that tend to be happy are people that find a way to get into a flow. From the moment you start, to the moment you finish, Power Yoga is one unbroken, seamless flow. As the breath flows you oxygenate the blood, and you feel happy and energized. As the body flows, you release endorphins throughout the body feeling invigorated and happy. As the mind flows in a single stream of attention, you feel present and happy. Power Yoga unleashes the feel good chemicals of serotonin and dopamine which are also associated with happiness. As they say, “Happiness is an inside job.” True lasting happiness isn’t going to come from external sources. It has to come from inside of you. Your yoga practice creates the environment for where this is possible.
Ultimately, your Power Yoga flow prepares you for the flow of life. So, bring that Strength, that Flexibility, and that Happiness into the rest of your day!