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January 30, 2008

Power Yoga

By Vanita Gautam

"Power Yoga" is effective in helping women improve joints and flexibility, build muscle, and lose weight.

Given its name by Beryl Bender Birch, an Ashtanga Yoga teacher and author of the book by the same name, “Power Yoga” is effective in helping women improve joints and flexibility, build muscle, and lose weight.

If you’re ready to break a sweat with sun salutations and balance postures, find out what to expect before you walk into a power yoga class.

Where does power yoga take place?

Usually, power yoga is conducted in a heated room because your muscles need to remain warm so that no injury will occur during the shortened vigorous moves you’ll be doing.

Sometimes, the room is not just heated, it’s hot. And by hot, I mean you will break a sweat the moment you walk in. It’s used to promote sweating and flush toxins from your body while you pose.

For classes available in your area, head to your local gym and check out the aerobic class schedule. Chances are there’ll be one there. If not, type in “power yoga classes” and your city into Google, and you’re bound to find something near you.

How’s power yoga different from other yoga?

Power yoga takes basic yoga poses from Ashtanga, Bikram and Iyengar, and applies them in a shortened form with emphasis on training the brain to attain focus and clarity while executing the poses.

Sometimes poses are done in quick succession and other times poses are held for 5 breaths or so (you’ll feel the burn in your muscles), thus allowing you to concentrate on the pose and your breathing.

Why is it called “power” yoga?

This type of yoga seemed to take on the name power yoga on its own because of what it does to the individuals who undertake it. These classes allow you to get in touch with your inner core (literally and figuratively) and help you find the power in your mind and your body to achieve things and balance yourself in ways you may never have thought possible.

Every time you go to one of these classes, you will leave feeling that much more in tune with your mental, physical and even spiritual self. Unlike other yoga classes, the focus in power yoga is on coordinating everything simultaneously. You learn to breathe, move, pose, and increase your flexibility in one fell swoop rather than one step at a time.

It’s challenging and calls on you to discipline your body and mind into achieving the results desired.

Who is power yoga for?

If you’ve been to a yoga class before, in which you were taught to breathe and do sun salutations, that’s great. Keep in mind, however, that this is not an easy course. You will sweat profusely at times and require a great deal of focus, energy and strength.

A familiarity is helpful for the course, but not pertinent. And of course, you are allowed to move at your own pace, taking a break if necessary. But don’t confuse this class with something strictly meditative.

If you have chronic ailments, however, power yoga is not for you. The workout is rigorous and not easy by any means.

On the flipside, if you want to improve your performance in a particular sport like cycling, boxing, golf, and swimming, power yoga can help you achieve your goal.

What do I need to bring to a power yoga class?

It’s important that you wear clothing that is comfortable, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. You need to wear body hugging clothes in order to avoid having your breasts pop out of your shirt. Wear something you feel comfortable sweating in.

Also, you do not need socks or shoes, you are required to be barefoot (socks keep you from planting your feet firmly into the ground), so be ready with that pedicure. If you are a germ freak, however, invest in a pair of yoga shoes instead.

Bring a bottle of water and a yoga mat as well.

Get your power yoga on

So if you think you’re ready to head to a power yoga class and focus your body, mind and spirit on the task at hand, now you have the information necessary to walk into one with confidence.

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