Beginners Guide: What Is Power Flow Yoga?


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Woman practicing power yoga flow.
What is power yoga flow?

Power flow yoga is an energetic form of yoga that can involve long holds of poses and is a great way to work on weight loss.

And so if you are looking for a yoga practice that will not only help with mental clarity but also help you increase your flexibility and your strength, then you may like power flow yoga.

Power flow yoga, also referred to as power vinyasa yoga, is a dynamic style of yoga, and as such, can help build strength and increase flexibility. It originated in the United States by two teachers, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest who decided to move away from the set sequences of Ashtanga yoga.

Definitely check out my detailed guide for Ashtanga yoga beginners if you are looking for more information on Ashtanga yoga.

Where Did Power Yoga Flow Originate?

Power Yoga is an energetic form of yoga that originated in the 1980s in the United States and quickly became very popular. It was developed by two ashtanga practitioners, Beryl Bender Birch and Bryan Kest. Both teachers independently created a style of yoga that escaped the set sequences of Ashtanga.

Bryan Kest

Bryan Kest started adapting the Ashtanga yoga practice whilst in India. There he started listening to his intuition and started adding postures that his body was asking for. Upon returning to the United States he changed the name of what he was practicing, to Power yoga.

Beryl Bender Birch

Interestingly, around the same time on the other side of the United States, Beryl Bender Birch, another Ashtanga yoga practitioner started adapting the set sequences of Ahstanga yoga and also created Power Yoga.

According to her website: “Beryl coined the term “power yoga” and her Power Yoga classes in New York (and workshops all over the country) were the first and original “power” yoga program. Based on the astanga sequences (Beryl’s personal practice since l979), Beryl adapted the power practice for athletes of all sports, ages, and abilities, which is one of the reasons the program rocketed to success.”

Baron Baptiste is another well-known teacher who made Power yoga popular.

What Is Power Yoga Flow?

Power yoga, also known as power vinyasa yoga, is a dynamic form of yoga. It places emphasis on building strength and so expect a workout at a power yoga class. The teacher may guide the class through a flow of yoga poses and will most likely emphasize long holds in strength-building postures, such as planks and squats.

Expect to sweat, a lot!

You could see Power yoga as a combination of a workout and yoga.

Can Beginners Do Power Flow Yoga?

As a general rule, Power yoga is not suitable for yoga beginners. The main reason is that in most yoga studios, power yoga is tailored to more experienced practitioners. As a yoga beginner, a Hatha yoga class may be the best starting point, and once you feel ready you can try a power yoga class.

Of course, this is just from my experience. If you are a yoga beginner interested in Power yoga, speak to the yoga teacher at your local yoga studio or fitness center and ask if you can attend.

If you would like to try out a Power yoga class, check out this 30 minute YouTube video by Travis Elliot.

What Are The Benefits Of Power Yoga?

The three main benefits of power yoga are:

1. It can help with weight loss because it is an energetic form of yoga. And so by moving through the power yoga sequence you are most likely to build up internal heat, making it a great way to lose weight.

2. It can help with mental clarity given that you will be moving in and out of poses following the breath.

3. It can help reduce stress, something most yoga styles can help with.

How Does Power Yoga Compare to Other Styles Of Yoga?

Power yoga vs Ashtanga Yoga

Both Ashtanga and Power yoga place a strong emphasis on the breath. And this is generally how each class begins. In both Ashtanga and Power yoga, this breath is there to guide practitioners in and out of each set of poses as smoothly as possible.

Now, the key difference that basically sets Ashtanga apart from Power yoga, and actually, from any other type of yoga.

Ashtanga yoga follows a set sequence of poses, making it be considered as a more traditional yoga style. And so every Ashtanga yoga class will be the same. We start off by finding the breath and then move on to sun salutations, standing poses, seated poses, and finishing poses. Day in and day out, we practice the same sequence of poses.

To some, this may seem boring. And indeed, those very people move on to do Vinyasa or Power yoga which offers more variation.

Power yoga vs Restorative Yoga

Power yoga could be considered to be on the other spectrum of restorative yoga. Power yoga is considered to be gym yoga, where you expect a good workout. On the other hand, in a restorative class, we work on founding poses and may even stay in each pose for up to 20 minutes!

Power yoga vs Gentle Flow

In a gentle flow or a hatha yoga class, we may work on some similar poses as in power yoga classes. The key difference is in their intensity. In a power yoga class, you will most likely stay in plank pose for several breaths, whereas in hatha yoga we may just flow through it and work more on smooth movements at a slower pace.

Power Flow yoga: Conclusions

And so if you are reading this article trying to decide if Power yoga flow is the best style of yoga for you…

This is my advice:

Try it out! This is what I tell my students. Try it and see if it resonates with you.

What is the difference between power yoga and yoga flow?

Power yoga and yoga flow both originate from Ashtanga yoga. They can both be seen as a more freestyle Ashtanga yoga practice. Yoga flow focuses more on the flow in and out of poses, whereas power yoga may focus more on long holds of strength-building poses.

Is power yoga a good workout?

Power yoga is a good workout. It is an energetic form of yoga that focuses on moving through yoga sequences that are a great way of working on weight loss.

Is Ashtanga Yoga the same as power yoga?

As a whole, Ashtanga is rather different from Power yoga. They are both dynamic forms of yoga that will help increase strength and flexibility, however, there are many differences that set them apart. Mainly, Ashtanga yoga follows a set sequence of postures, whereas each Power yoga class can differ.

How is power yoga different from yoga?

Power yoga is a yoIt pays particular attention to the physical side of yoga and for this reason, power yoga classes tend to not place emphasis on factors that are perceived to be more yogic, such as chanting, pranayama, and meditation.

What is the most intense type of yoga?

As a whole, all types of yoga can be perceived as intense. Power yoga and Ashtanga can be considered to be intense, given that they are physically demanding. On the other hand, yin yoga can also be perceived as intense by some, as some find it very challenging to stay in postures for a long time.

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Alexia Koletsou

Alexia Koletsou is a Level 1 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher with a Ph.D. in Science Communication. She received her blessing to teach Ashtanga Yoga in 2019, from the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, where she has had the honor of practicing with R. Sharath Jois multiple times over the years. She is the owner of her own Shala in Greece and now shares her knowledge on yogamyoldfriend.com and her YouTube channel Alexia K Yoga.

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