If a classical form of yoga with a kick is what you’re after, Ashtanga yoga (also known as Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga) might just do the trick. This system of yoga is often touted as the modern form of classical Indian yoga, but Ashtanga yoga is a larger specific form of yoga. Power yoga and vinyasa yoga are generic terms for a type of vigorously practiced yoga derived from classic Ashtanga yoga.
Development of Ashtanga Power Yoga
Power yoga forms developed out of classical Ashtanga yoga in several places by several people, most notable of them being Beryl Bender Birch of the Hard and Soft Yoga Institute. Oftentimes, power yoga is a blend of vigorous Ashtanga yoga and other yoga forms. Sun Power Yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa, Boomer Yoga and Rocket Yoga are all forms of a power yoga that combines a more vigorous asana, or yoga posture, and the Ashtanga Primary Series of postures. Many variations of asana are possible in power yoga. Power yoga is a workout for the body and the mind.
Ashtanga Power Yoga Characteristics
This form of yoga is excellent for those looking to combine the serenity and spirituality of yoga with a great workout. The website Yoga Movement describes power yoga as a serious workout with fast sequences of yoga postures that flow one into another. Ashtanga power yoga focuses on breathing throughout the asanas. This challenging form of yoga builds strength and flexibility as well as stamina.
The Spirit of Ashtanga Power Yoga
According to Birch, the spirit behind this form of yoga is about paying attention and progressing. Ashtanga power yoga’s goal is letting go of that which does not serve you well and discovering our oneness with everyone. We are all connected and cannot be thought of as separate from one another.
Incorporation of the Ashtanga Eight-Limbed Method
Ashtanga, according to Yoga Journal, is the literal translation of the Sanskrit term "ashta" (eight) "anga" (limbs). It is a path or way of life that is incorporated into yoga practice. The Ashtanga is an elemental feature of power yoga.
- Yama or ethics: Ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (continence) and Aparigraha (noncovetousness)
- Niyama, or self-discipline: Saucha (cleanliness), Samtosa (contentment), Tapas (spiritual austerities), Svadhyaya (study of self and scriptures) and Isvara pranidhana (surrender to God)
- Asana: the postures in yoga
- Pranayama: breath control
- Pratyahara: withdrawal and transcendence from sensory awareness to clear the way to observe the self
- Dharana: concentration or focus
- Dhyana: meditation and quiet, relaxed but keen contemplation
- Samadh: the state of ecstasy reached when the person meditating reaches oneness with their point of focus