An introduction to power yoga
To the sages of ancient India, the birthplace of yoga, the ultimate goal of yoga was to achieve Samadhi, which can be defined as a blissful state of awareness or consciousness. This is still true today. However, the reason most modern practitioners join yoga classes or start doing yoga routines on their own is to improve or maintain their physical and mental health. This means keeping the body and mind fit, strong, focused and healthy. This is where power yoga comes in.
A variation of the vinyasa-style yoga that emphasizes on fast and smooth breath-synchronized movements that flow like dance steps, power yoga provides a fitness-centered approach to keeping fit and healthy through fast and vigorous workouts. However, there is no set series of postures to follow and the practitioner is free to devise his own set. This school of yoga quickly caught with fitness-conscious people in America as it provided them with a good way to workout in gyms and at home.
Although yoga has its roots in India, at least some of its modern variations were developed in the Western world where they became popular in the later half of the 20th century. The credit for developing power yoga goes to two Americans, Beryl Bender Birch, a New York based yoga guru, and Bryan Kest, a Los Angeles based yoga teacher. Both of them were students of Sri Pattabhi Jois, an Indian yoga guru who is credited with popularizing ashtanga vinyasa yoga. These two yoga experts wanted to modify ashtanga yoga to make it more suitable for fitness enthusiasts who regularly went to gyms. As a result, this form of yoga is also called “gym yoga” by adherents.
As intended by its developers, power yoga lays emphasis on strength and flexibility, and is suitable for people whose primary goal is physical fitness. The workouts in power yoga are vigorous and fast paced, intended to provide ample exercise and tone up the muscles. It is also enjoyable as the movements flow smoothly from one pose to the next, and the timing is synchronized with breathing in and breathing out. As the emphasis is physical fitness, meditation is optional and may be skipped. In fact, many practitioners completely forego meditation and concentrate only on the physical workouts.