Yoga as a form of exercise has been with us for centuries, with its origins going all the way back to India over 3500 years ago. However, it was with the rise of colonialism that Yoga entered into Western awareness as far back as the 19th century, and ever since then, it’s been regarded as a form of healthy meditation and exercise for supple minds and flexible bodies. What it has not been generally regarded as is a form of exercise that would make people sweat or build strength. Until now that is.
Power Yoga Switches Things Up!
In the late 1980s, Beryl Bender Birch, a student of the Ashtanga discipline of yoga, coined the term “power yoga,” for a new style she was perfecting in the United States. Traditional yoga has tended to put more emphasis on maintaining a calm pace, holding poses, and controlling the rhythm of breathing. Power yoga speeds things up—and sometimes even heats things up with higher temperatures in the room—while still putting an emphasis on striking different poses. However, the biggest difference here is that power yoga makes you work during these poses. Not only does the pace of power yoga move faster from pose to pose, the types of poses you strike will build strength in your limbs. This isn’t the same type of strength building that would come from lifting weights, but has more similarity to martial arts as you “feel the burn” in your arms and legs from the paces power yoga puts you through. This unique spin on a more sedate, traditional form of yoga brings with it a lot of unique benefits.
Because of the emphasis on being more active, and working out your muscles, power yoga can be a great aerobic activity. If you’re not sweating by the end of a power yoga session, you’re either cheating, or already in great physical shape!
Build Strength & Flexibility
However, power yoga doesn’t just get your heart and breathing rate up. The poses of power yoga, and the gradual mastery you develop in maintaining and holding these poses requires muscle strength and flexibility. In other words, as you get better, you’ll enjoy more muscle strength and even have a more flexible body that can bend and twist with greater ease than before.
While the emphasis in power yoga is on giving your body a workout, this is still a discipline based in traditional yogic principles. That means that there’s a goal of creating a state of calm. While you’re not necessarily expected to meditate, or reach a higher state of awareness, power yoga does help to bring a sense of peacefulness after an honest, thorough workout.
One of the best things about power yoga is that it’s not like jogging, weightlifting or even aerobics, which can all be high impact exercises that subject your body to huge amounts of physical force in specific directions. Power yoga is low impact, meaning many more people can safely enjoy the strength building, calorie burning benefits!