What Is Power Yoga - And How Does It Differ From Ashtanga?

By: vitalgirl
Power yoga is a very exercise-centered form of yoga, in that it aims to develop endurance, stamina, and strength. It is a synthesis of many different yoga traditions, created by Baron Baptiste. Baptiste studied with yoga teachers including Iyengar (Iyengar yoga), Pattabhi Jois (Astanga yoga), and Bikram Choundhury (Bikram yoga).

Despite its physicality, Baptiste's Power yoga is based on the philosophy that self discovery, freedom, and truth are not to be found in either the dogma or traditional teachings of yoga, nor the technical parts of a physical asana practice. Instead, it is through honing one's individuality and deep intuition. The principle is that we all have the tools and wisdom we need to lead a truthful and fulfilling life.

This departure from tradition found some opposition, however this style of yoga is very popular. For many, it's a welcome break from other traditions that imply you must place your power outside of yourself to find a deeper sense of one's own relationship to Source.

Ashtanga yoga, which follows the teachings of Pattabhi Jois, and is more rigid and schematic, is sometimes called 'Power Yoga', so it can seem confusing. The two have in common the use of vinyasa poses. Vinyasa poses simply link together the principle asanas in the sequence, or class. The Salute to the sun is used by both Baptiste and Ashtanga yoga to create this sense of flow. It's a lovely thing to incorporate into any practice, and certainly very effective at improving one's physical fitness.

Vinyasa style yoga also helps create more internal heat, and the movement inherent within it allows for cardiovascular exercise to be incorporated into yoga.

By creating a sequence that helps heat build up within the body, both Baptiste's Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga encourage flexibility within a session, whilst minimizing muscle strain and injuries. It is also considered a way of aiding in the detoxification of metabolic wastes and 'impurities'. Power yoga is also practiced in a room heated to 30 degrees Celsius, to facilitate this heat generation.

One thing that really differentiates Baptiste's Power Yoga from Ashtanga yoga, is the way beginners are accommodated within a class. There are not separate classes for beginners. They are instead presented with an opportunity to begin developing their own intuition, and self-power, straight away, by pacing themselves through a class. It's a case of not trying to keep up with the "yoga Jones'"!

The defining difference, is however, the focus on developing a sense of one's personal power, and all that entails - overcoming self limitation, and coming to terms with one's own hidden potential. In a very modern way, it seems to capture the essence of what yoga is.
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