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The Body/Mind Connection

Power Yoga

Power yoga is a general term used in the West to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to vinyasa-style yoga. Most power yoga is closely modeled on the Ashtanga style of practice. The term "power yoga" came into common usage in the mid 1990s, when several yoga teachers were looking for a way to make Ashtanga yoga more accessible to western students. Unlike Ashtanga, power yoga does not follow a set series of poses. Therefore, any power yoga class can vary widely from the next. What they have in common is an emphasis on strength and flexibility. The advent of power yoga heralded yoga's current popularity, as people began to see yoga as a way to work out. Power yoga brought yoga into the gyms of America.

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. Another name often associated with power yoga is Baron Baptiste. Baptiste has his own method, which is only taught by teachers he certifies.

Is Power Yoga for You?

Power yoga classes can vary widely from teacher to teacher. However, power yoga 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.

                  

Although only recently becoming popular in the West, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has a pedigree in India for over 5000 years. It bridges the divide between Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga, and represents the practical unification of the 8 limbs of Yoga system of Patanjali.

In Ashtanga, the individual postures (asanas) are linked together by a short, flowing sequence of movements called "Vinyasas" (literally, "setting out and returning"), which are further synchronised with the breath.

There is a natural progression towards a meditative state as one harmonises postures (asana), breathing (pranayama) and awareness (samyama) into a symbolic whole. Each element deepens and enriches the effect of the other, until one reaches a stage where there is no separation between mind, body and breath.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is therefore one of the most complete systems of Yoga ever devised. The challenge offered by the Vinyasa system is as much mental as physical, demanding a contiuous effort of concentration to maintain the momentum from one posture to the next. This does not mean that you must be super-fit to practice.

The aim of this technique is to naturally still the fluctuations of the mind through dynamic movements and breath, not to achieve gymnastic goals. To reach such a state of stillness and harmony through sitting meditation reuires a dedication and tenacity rarely available to people living this secular world. In this way, Vinyasa unites Hatha and Raja Yoga in a single, simple manner in which anyone can quickly realise spiritual progress. The Mediplex System includes specialised techniques of power yoga in its system