Power yoga is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. Though many consider it to be "gym yoga," this style of practice was originally closely modeled on the Ashtanga method. The term came into common usage in the mid 1990s, in an attempt to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to western students, though, unlike Ashtanga, power yoga does not follow a set series of poses, so classes can vary widely. With its emphasis on strength and flexibility, power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America, as people began to see yoga as a way to work out.
Who Invented Power Yoga?
Two American yoga teachers are most often credited with the near simultaneous invention of power yoga: Beryl Bender Birch, based in New York, and Bryan Kest, based in Los Angeles. Not coincidentally, both these teachers had studied with Ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Using the term power yoga differentiated the intense, flowing style of yoga they were teaching from the gentle stretching and meditation that many Americans associated with yoga. Baron Baptiste is another well-known yoga teacher who has successfully established his own style of power yoga.
Is Power Yoga for You?
Though power yoga classes can vary widely from teacher to teacher, they will most likely appeal to people who are already quite fit, enjoy exercising, and want a minimal amount of chanting and meditation with their yoga. Prepare to work hard and work up a sweat.