The Top 6 Benefits of Power Vinyasa Yoga
Power Vinyasa yoga is a style of yoga derived from the traditional form of Ashtanga yoga’s Primary Series. While altered by Westerners to invoke a flow-based posture series focused on strength and fitness, Vinyasa yoga is a style that still maintains a lot of the same ideals and similarities to the yoga of its origins.
Many benefits come with practicing and dedicating time to Power Vinyasa yoga. From improved sleep and a calm mind to weight loss and increased cardiovascular health, the benefits of Power Vinyasa yoga have been experienced and enjoyed by many.
If you are looking for a yoga style that offers challenge, invokes breath and intensity, and encourages athleticism, then the Ashtanga-based Power Vinyasa Yoga style might be the right one for you.
The History of Power Vinyasa Yoga
Power Vinyasa originated as an offshoot from the greater umbrella of Ashtanga yoga. Ashtanga yoga, based on the 8 limbs of yoga and originally codified by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century, is made up of 6 separate series. These series consist of:
- The Primary Series
- The Intermediate Series
- Four sections of the Advanced Series
Though Power Vinyasa yoga is not a codified technique the way Ashtanga yoga is, many Vinyasa classes draw from a 26-posture series. In 1995, North America’s Yoga Journal was quoted calling yoga instructor Beryl Bender Birch the originator of what we know now as contemporary Power Vinyasa yoga. Birch, who has studied Ashtanga yoga under its originator Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Baron Baptiste, was also a Bikram yoga enthusiast at the time. His choice to attempt to combine the two yoga styles into a powerful breath-based practice became coined as the term “power yoga”.
What Does Vinyasa Mean?
The name for Power Vinyasa yoga comes from the yogic word Vinyasa. This term refers to the connection between breath and movement. Defined as yoga that flows following personal breathing patterns, the concept of Vinyasa applies to all yoga as breath is essential in all yogic methods.
What Poses Does Vinyasa Yoga Include?
Power Vinyasa yoga, unlike Ashtanga or codified 26-posture yoga classes, can include many sequences that vary with each class. The length of the class, whether 60 minutes, 90 minutes, or 120 minutes, will determine how many repetitions, postures, and chaturangas or ‘vinyasas’ take place throughout the class.
If you are taking a Power Vinyasa class in the United States, it is safe to assume that the class will be focused on strength and exercise and that the following postures will most likely take place in some form during the class:
- Child’s Pose
- Mountain Pose
- Forward Fold
- Downward Facing Dog
- Virabhadrasana/Warrior Pose 1 and 2
- Natarajasana/Dancer’s Pose
- And more
Power Vinyasa is meant to be a very sweaty and exerting yogic experience. For those taking this type of class for the first time, make sure to bring an extra towel to dry off and avoid slipping on your mat as well as a bottle of water to stay hydrated. While not all Power Vinyasa classes are done in a heated room, many studios do like to offer Hot Power Vinyasa in temperature-controlled studios at up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity.
The 6 Best Benefits of Practicing Power Vinyasa
Power Vinyasa is a strength-based and breath-based practice that offers many benefits to its students and yogic practitioners. While each Power Vinyasa class will look and feel different depending on its sequencing and the instructor that is leading the class, all Power Vinyasa classes can offer the same health-related results and advantages to your well-being, especially when practiced over years.
Since Power Vinyasa yoga is a challenging form of yoga that requires strength and focus, one of its main benefits is strength training. By utilizing the weight of the body, poses including chaturanga and downward dog focus on strengthening the arms and shoulders while warrior poses strengthen the legs and hips. Since the poses in Power Vinyasa are usually done in quick succession, they offer repetition and increased engagement of many of the body’s muscle groups.
Lung Capacity Increase
Power Vinyasa yoga is great for helping to increase lung capacity because it is heavily focused on the breath. From the start of the class until the end with savasana, yogic breathing techniques such as ujjayi wave breathing are utilized to create heat within the body. By introducing a lot of oxygen into the lungs and heartily exhausting carbon dioxide, Power Vinyasa yoga uses swift motion and corresponding breath to encourage strong and healthy lungs.
Cardio training and Power Vinyasa yoga are often synonymous due to this yoga style’s speed and consistent flow. During Power Vinyasa, yogis tend to be in continuous motion, only holding poses for around 5 breaths on each side. This causes the heart rate to increase and acts as a low-impact cardio workout, improving cardiovascular health and encouraging the body’s natural weight-loss response.
Flexibility is another one of Power Vinyasa yoga’s most physically measurable benefits. The combination of heat-building in the body, breath work for physical muscle relaxation, and consistent movement allows the body’s fascia to lubricate and become flooded with warmth and oxygen. This makes the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in your body further relax and create flexibility, especially when practiced in a heated room. If one practices Power Vinyasa yoga every day or multiple times per week, they will notice a rapid increase in flexibility.
Yoga in general is all about mindfulness. Power Vinyasa is a great way to practice mindfulness or focus on the present moment because it is so physically challenging. This challenge is great for focus because it encourages the yogi to maintain awareness of the body to prevail through difficult poses and flow sequences. Toward the beginning and the end of yoga practice, many instructors will also lead their students in mindfulness exercises or brief meditations.
Healthy Sleep Patterns
Practicing Power Vinyasa yoga can help lessen problems with insomnia and lead to healthier sleep patterns. Since yoga involves self-regulating breath and pushing the body to new physical limits, the chemicals that your brain creates during this exercise helps to adjust your nervous system, resulting in more restful sleep and deeper REM cycles while sleeping.
Strengthening the Body and Mind with Vinyasa
Power Vinyasa yoga is a wonderful and challenging form of yoga derived from two of the most famous yoga styles in the world. With physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, Power Vinyasa offers something for everyone including physical strength, internal organ and cardiovascular health, better sleep, weight loss, and an overall sense of happiness and well-being. To experience these benefits for yourself, browse our online yoga teachers and classes today and begin (or continue) your yoga journey with us!
By Shasta Fay