What Is Power Yoga: A Mindful, Calorie-Burning Experience

Yoga is a popular mind-body exercise that comes in a wide variety of styles.

Each style of yoga serves a unique purpose for the person practicing it.

One very common style of yoga is called “power yoga”, a fast-paced exercise that was designed to combine traditional yoga poses with more intense muscle strengthening and cardiovascular movements.

While some yoga classes focus on relaxation and stretching, the purpose of power yoga classes is to get a good physical workout.

This article will dive into the practice of power yoga and its many health benefits.

What Is Power Yoga?

The term power yoga is used to imply a style of yoga that was designed for building strength and cardiovascular endurance. Power yoga incorporates a series of challenging poses with a cardio workout.

If you’re looking to supplement your yoga practice with an exercise that helps you burn calories and enhance muscle tone, this style of yoga might be worth trying.

Before diving too deep into this topic, you should know that “power yoga” is not an official style of yoga.

The popular mind-body exercise got its roots sometime in the 1990s and was a hit particularly among athletes who also enjoyed doing yoga.

Over time, the term has been interchangeably used with “Vinyasa,” which is a style of Ashtanga Yoga that has been around since the early 20th century.

Ashtanga yoga is a specific style of yoga in which participants perform the same poses in the same order every time.

In Vinyasa yoga, you will practice the same kind of poses as you would in Ashtanga, but not always in the same order.

Since Vinyasa yoga focuses on flowing from one pose to another rather than isolating individual movements, it might be more precise to say that power yoga is a subtype of Vinyasa yoga.

In a power yoga class, you will be challenged to move from one pose to another swiftly while linking your breath to the movements.

In many ways, power yoga is similar to an aerobics class.

Some yoga teachers will even incorporate weights into the exercise for more of a strength building experience.

While it is still considered a mindful practice, the focus is more on sweating and burning calories than meditation. 

What Are The Health Benefits Of Power Yoga?

Just like with any form of physical exercise, there are a multitude of health benefits to gain from practicing power yoga.

Due to the mind-body nature of this practice, there is evidence highlighting the following mental and physical benefits.

Cardiovascular Health

Any time you manage to get your heart rate pumping through physical exercise, you are doing wonders for your cardiovascular health.

Since power yoga was designed to be a fast-paced, strength building workout, participating in one of these classes can raise and keep up your heart rate.

Raising your heart rate through a cardio workout promotes blood and oxygen circulation throughout your body, allowing your muscles and organs to function more effectively.

Incorporating a regular cardio workout, such as power yoga, into your fitness routine can promote:

  • A strong heart and lungs.
  • Healthy blood pressure.
  • Lower cholesterol.
  • Lower blood sugar.
  • Stronger bones and muscles.
  • Weight loss.
  • Better sleep.
  • A boost of energy.
  • Enhanced brain function.
  • A decreased risk of chronic diseases.

Building Strength

Just because power yoga is more fast paced than other styles of yoga, doesn’t mean you aren’t getting some resistance training.

Oftentimes, yoga teachers will have their students hold certain poses for as long as one minute.

The act of doing this fires up your muscles and requires them to work harder, building strength as a result.

For example, your teacher might have you in a traditional “downward dog” pose and then ask you to do push-ups while in this pose, for one minute.

Some yoga teachers will even incorporate dumbbells or resistance bands into their workouts.

While in a traditional “warrior two” position, your yoga teacher could ask you to pick up your dumbbells, lean forward and perform “rows” for one minute.

These workouts can enhance muscle tone and build endurance all over your body.

Power yoga has also proven to be effective in minimizing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improving motor function.

A 2016 study that was featured in the journal, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, found that patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease were able to significantly reduce their tremors and muscle rigidity by participating in power yoga classes twice a week.

Weight Loss

As we have discussed, power yoga is essentially a hybrid of aerobic exercise and yoga.

Both elements of this hybrid exercise have positive effects on weight loss.

An intense cardio and resistance training workout helps your body to burn calories, which supports fat burn and weight loss.

On the other hand, practicing yoga can help you to feel more connected with your body.

When we tune into our body, we tend to be more mindful of what we are nourishing ourselves with.

This mind-body connection can help us make healthier food choices.

Even more, yoga practice is effective at reducing inflammation in the body.

The act of stretching, breathing and being mindful has been shown to reduce back and joint pain.

Having less pain in these areas might encourage people to lead a more active lifestyle overall.

Lower Stress Levels

Its well-known ability to help us relax is probably one of yoga’s most popular benefits.

Yoga can combat symptoms of anxiety and stress by promoting positive feelings such as calm and peacefulness.

Even though power yoga is more of a workout, it still requires you to be in synch with your breath and practice mindfulness.

This combined with an endorphin-pumping sweat session can help to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your body.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the most common questions people have about power yoga.

What is the difference between traditional yoga and power yoga?

There are many different styles of yoga.

While most traditional yoga focuses on breathing and meditation, power yoga is an exercise that combines traditional Vinyasa yoga poses with aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Is power yoga good for beginners?

To get the most out of the practice, you should at least be moderately fit and somewhat knowledgeable of basic yoga poses.

However, if you are a beginner and want to try it, be careful not to strain.

The most important thing to remember when doing yoga is “Listen to your body.”

If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.

While some power yoga classes might be challenging and intermediate level, most teachers are more than willing to offer modifications for beginners.

Is power yoga hard?

Power yoga is designed to give you a mindful, cardiovascular and strength building workout.

It should be somewhat challenging, but doable. If you are beginner, ask your yoga teacher for modifications.

Can I do power yoga every day?

As with any intensive exercise, you will want to be careful to not strain your muscles.

While it’s healthy to stay active, you never want to overdo it.

Avoid injuries by taking a rest day or two when needed.