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 of 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.
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.