In this Article:Learning Yoga Foundations, Starting a Power Yoga Program, Practicing Power Yoga Poses, Complimenting Your Yoga Practice
Power Yoga is a customizable yoga style influenced by aerobic exercise. It regularly varies poses so that the body is always experiencing something new. Power Yoga is a great way to combine the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of yoga with high intensity, calorie-burning exercise. Power Yoga strengthens your body, increases flexibility, and promotes stamina and weight loss as well as improving posture and balance. It also improves circulation and the immune system, is good for your heart and strengthens your bones, muscles and joints. Mental benefits can include improved concentration and decreased stress. To get the full benefits of a Power Yoga, tailor your routine to meet your goals and don’t sacrifice basic yoga principles for a hard workout.
Learn to breathe. Whatever your level, yoga starts with breathing. Breathing properly will help you keep your rhythm throughout your practice, know your limits and maintain good habits. When your breathing and your asanas (poses) are in perfect sync, you’ll really feel the flow of power yoga.
It is common to hold your breath or use short, shallow breathing when exercising or holding a pose. However, this causes body tension and stress, the opposite of what you want for optimal well-being.
There are multiple ways to breathe during poses, depending on the teacher. Find a proper breathing method that works for you.
Most yogic traditions recommend deep, belly breathing as a foundation. This type of breathing causes your abdomen to rise as you inhale and lower as you exhale. You inhale and exhale through your nose slowly, while counting seconds silently—inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5 more before starting a new breath.
Paying attention to your breathing helps you stay focused and relaxed when you practice yoga.
Practice ujjayi breathing. Power yoga has roots in Ashtanga Yoga practices, which utilizes “the victorious breath” technique for breath control. Breathing this way utilizes sound and movement with exercises to promote wellbeing. First, sit down with a straight spine and eyes closed.
Take a deep breath slowly through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Make the sound “HAAA.” Next time you exhale, close your mouth and make the same sound in your throat.
Keep your throat relaxed and inhale while generating the same sound. It might sound a little like Darth Vader from Star Wars, but don’t aim to be the loudest one in the room. Instead, think of breathing as a massage for your vocal cords.
Now lift your arms when you inhale. Lower your arms when you exhale. Rest your hands in your lap and breathe. Repeat.
Return to normal breathing when you are finished. After practice, you will be able to use this breathing technique as you perform poses. It’s beneficial for the body because it helps muscles get oxygen more efficiently and allows you do to more physically without fatiguing.
Practice meditation. The act of doing yoga is a form of meditation that requires intense concentration. It is best to practice a basic meditation to prepare you for other forms. Meditation reduces blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, depression and flu infections.
Find a comfortable place. You can lay down or sit—it doesn’t matter as long as you are comfortable. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds.
Clear your mind or focus on a particular sound, object, word or phrase. You could also imagine a place that makes you happy—such as a beach, an old memory or an imagined place.
Whenever your mind drifts to other thoughts, gently bring it back to whatever it is you have chosen to focus on.
Meditate for as long as you want—a few minutes to an hour or longer. There will be a lot of distractions at first but soon you will be able to meditate for longer periods of time.
Choose the right time of day. You might want to do power yoga first thing in the morning, when an energetic routine is most likely to get you going for the rest of the day. Try pairing that practice with a very short, relaxing routine at night if you can. Even just a few poses may help you sleep and set the tone for the next morning.
Start each practice with some slow, easy breaths. Sit up straight with your body still. Begin the ujjayi pranayama by taking deeper breaths and exhaling through the nose. Your breathing should be audible in the back of the throat. As you move, try to match each movement to an inhale or exhale.
Start easy, then work your way up. Many students who pick a power yoga class or home practice do so because they’re hoping to achieve health benefits along with an aerobic workout. Power yoga offers these things, but it’s important to remember that the benefits of yoga accrue slowly, over time. Don’t get frustrated if you need to pause in a class and rest in child’s pose or another pose.
Modify poses that are difficult for you. You will learn to do them correctly in time. It’s better to complete a practice performing only half the poses than to give up halfway through.
Identify your goals and set a realistic timetable for them. Decide what you’re looking for and set gradual, incremental goals. It may be helpful to start with a short class and easy poses, then work your way up to avoid burnout.
Before you select a class, DVD or audio home practice, figure out what you want to get out of power yoga. Are you looking for aerobic exercise? Strength training? Increased flexibility? Mental ease? This will determine what steps you take to work toward your goal in the time frame you want.
Choose a class or home practice based on your goals and your yoga style. Once you’ve identified your goals, look for a class that meets those needs. Think about your personality as well when selecting how you’re going to practice power yoga.
If it’s hard for you to make yourself practice, having a friend come over to do yoga together may make you honest and less likely to skip than alone or with a group.
If you’re worried about injury or don’t know proper alignment yet, you’ll probably want to practice with a teacher. Guidance can be crucial as you learn the basics of power yoga and get the most out of its benefits.
If budget is a concern or you want to practice at home, there are many audio and DVD classes available. Some people prefer to do power yoga solo, which is perfectly fine too.
Specialty classes target strength, flexibility, weight loss and other goals. You can even find classes for pregnant women, larger bodies, runners, cyclists and many other groups. Don’t be afraid to shop around and try different things until something “”feels right””.
Consider intermediate classes. If you picked power yoga because you lose patience easily, you may not want to take beginning classes. Spend some time learning the poses and proper alignment first, then head to an advanced beginner or intermediate class that gets into vinyasa (matching breath to movement) right away. Many beginner classes start rather slowly as they explain each pose and demonstrate proper form.
Always take time in savasana. If you like to be busy, you probably selected power yoga because it feels less challenging than a slower, more meditative class. However, after every challenging workout, don’t forget to spend at least five minutes in savasana, meditating to maximize benefits:
Lie flat on your back, legs slightly apart, palms facing up at your sides.
Let your feet fall open and your eyes close.
Breathe deeply and concentrate on your breath. This asana is more beneficial than all the others combined, and is a great time to soak in the benefits of your challenging practice.
Perform Tadasana with weights. This is “the mountain pose” and is a starter pose for most standing positions. It is useful to practice this pose in order to learn more difficult poses later on.
You can include dumbbells into your poses to really get a workout. It is not a requirement, however, as Power Yoga alone is a great workout on its own.
You will need to stand up with your hands at your sides, back straight. Your big toes should be touching and your heels should be slightly apart. Stack your ribcage over your pelvis and your pelvis over your ankles. Pick up some dumbbells and hold them at your sides.
Raise your arms upwards and stretch your hands toward the ceiling as if you can touch it. Tuck your pelvis under and knit your ribcage together to keep your chest from puffing out. At the same time, lift your body and try to balance on your toes. Remain in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Don’t forget to breathe in tandem with your movements.
Be aware that most Power Yoga workouts have little to no rests between poses.
Do the Utkatasana pose. This pose is also called “the chair pose.” This pose, like most poses, can be performed near a wall to help keep you balanced. When you bend forward, your tailbone can touch the wall and help you maintain balance.
Stand in the starter pose, Tadasana. Inhale while you raise your arms upward, stretching, with your dumbbells. Exhale as you bend your knees like you are going to sit in a car while keeping your weight in your heels.
Keep your thighs parallel to the floor and your upper body leaning slightly at a right angle to your thighs. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Inhale and straighten your knees. As you exhale, move your arms back to your sides into the starting position.
Practice Trikonasana. This is the “triangle pose” and requires you to keep your eyes open to maintain balance. It can be challenging but has many benefits because it affects multiple areas of the body. Like the other poses, you will start out in Tadasana.
Separate your feet about 4 ft. apart, or to whatever distance is comfortable. Hold barbells, if desired. Turn your right foot out about 90 degrees while your left foot is slightly angled in.
Inhale. While you exhale, bend your body to the right side, reaching outward then downward from your hips. Keep your waist straight and move your left arm up in the air. Move your right arm toward the floor—both arms will be in a straight line like your body is pressed between 2 panes of glass. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Repeat this pose on the left side.
Use the Virabhadrasana pose. This is “the warrior pose” and has multiple pose variations. It represents the spiritual warrior as he or she faces self-ignorance in battle.
Start out in Tadasana, then separate your feet about 4 feet (1.2 m) apart. Holding dumbbells, raise your arms and stretch them. Turn your right foot 90 degrees to the right side and your left foot about 45 degrees in the same direction.
Exhale and turn your upper body to the left, keeping your back straight. Bend your right knee over your ankle. Gaze out over your front middle finger.
Do Balasana. Balasana, “child’s pose,” is a resting pose and can be used before or after any other pose. Many people use it when they start to get tired. It stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles while relieving stress as well as back or neck pain.
Sit on your heels with your big toes touching and align your knees with your hips. While you exhale, bend your upper body forward and lay on the ground with your arms alongside, palms up. Remain in the position for at least 30 seconds.
Practice other poses and modifications of these poses. Power Yoga does not have a set group of poses or sequence that you have to use. Explore other poses and do those that you find challenging. In time, your health will improve.
Eat well. Good nutrition nourishes your body, gives you energy, helps you concentrate, keeps your weight balanced and allows you to practice yoga effectively. Focus on natural foods, such as fruit, whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, and vegetables. Never eat your food in a rush or while in a stressful environment.
Avoid processed, fried and artificial foods. These include artificial sweeteners, sugary foods like donuts, foods made from white flour and drinks like soda.
Don’t eat salty, overly processed canned foods. Only eat canned food if it is naturally canned without chemical preservatives.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and genetically engineered food. Also, don’t eat foods that have been over cooked or microwaved.
Consider a vegetarian diet. For ethical, spiritual and health reasons, it may be beneficial for you to only eat food that does not cause harm to animals. Yoga promotes love, compassion and the concept of non-harm for all living beings, including animals. Some yoga practitioners believe that eating meat is more difficult to digest and causes disharmony and tension in the body.
Do natural movement exercises. Swimming, dance, walking, and pilates are all good choices to compliment your Power Yoga practice. The core strength developed in pilates, for example, can provide enhanced stability with yoga poses. You will want to do Power Yoga at least 3 times a week but adding other exercises to your weekly routine can be fun and add variety.
You may want to avoid weight training, which some feel can stiffen muscles and reduce your ability to perform yoga as well.
Cultivate gratitude. Be grateful for the chance to live life and all the wonderful experiences and relationships available to you. Before you consume any food or while preparing food, remember to feel grateful for what you will be eating. Every day, before you go to bed, think over all the good things that happened to you that day. Be thankful for a roof over your head, clean water to drink, for love and kindness and anything else you can think of.