Yoga Benefits & Styles

What is Ashtanga & Power Yoga?

If you’ve been a yoga practitioner for quite some time, or are already an accomplished athlete, power yoga might be the next stage of your fitness regimen. Power yoga, with its combined focus on strength and aerobic activity, offers a new challenge.

The Difference Between Ashtanga and Power Yoga

Terminology for Ashtanga yoga and power yoga is not interchangeable. They really are different practices.

Ashtanga yoga is a form of yoga introduced by Sri K. Pattabhi, based on what he learned from Krishnamacharya in 1927 about the eight steps of the Yoga Sutra. For more than 60 years, Pattabhi has taught at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. Yogis interested in teaching the true Ashtanga method go to India to learn the method — Pattabhi does not come to America or anywhere else to set up institutes like many other modern yogis with individualized practices.

So while power yoga is not really Ashtanga, it does follow a similar philosophy in that asanas performed in rapid succession will heat the body from within and promote a greater awareness. Endurance athletes enjoy power yoga because it can be as rigorous as some of their other workouts while at the same time, help them find peace and stress relief through this mindful practice.

The Benefits of Power Yoga

Yogis promote the increased detoxification and the stimulating cardiovascular benefits of this yoga style. Immersing yourself in this practice is also said to:

  • develop muscle tone and extended flexibility
  • increase the chances of weight loss
  • greatly improve circulation
  • relieve chronic pain by improving joint mobility and lubrication
  • promote deeper sleep, stress relief and sense of calm well being
  • Because of these overall physical improvements, proponents of the practice
  • also believe that performing power yoga reduces the symptoms of certain
  • chronic illnesses, such as thyroid disorders, arthritis and circulatory problems.
A Few Notes of Caution

Within reason, anyone at any age can perform the poses at different levels of expertise, but this style of yoga does require the practitioner to be in better physical condition and have a high tolerance for heat.

In addition, it’s critical to keep the body hydrated before, during and after practice. This does not include caffeinated beverages, only water. Along with the recommended eight-to-ten glasses of water daily, yogis practicing power yoga must consume enough water to replenish the body after detox. This could increase water intake to twelve-to-fourteen glasses on practice days.

Power yoga is not advisable for those brand new to yoga or pregnant. Beginners may find concentrating on learning proper form difficult in the excessive heat and expectant mothers experience a rise in the body’s core temperature to levels that may compromise the well-being of the baby.

Before starting any form of exercise, talk with your physician and research the practice.