Power yoga is a term that is exclusively used in the West, which describes yoga as a vigorous fitness and weight loss and it is the basic form of Ashtanga style of yoga. The Ashtanga yoga was developed in 1948 by Pattabhi Jois. This style of yoga is concerned with aligning each movement with the breath, which in turn makes the traditional static yoga flow dynamically. By continuing the “flow” the yoga is becomes more of a fitness regimen than the more spiritual ancient ways of being practiced as a lifestyle as with traditional form of Eastern yoga.
Power yoga is very popular in the West, but not as much in the East, where traditional forms of yoga are still practiced a way of life. Because most people in the East that practice yoga as a way of life, they have no need to use it for fitness purposes or to tone because they also eat a healthy diet, so weight loss is never a goal in traditional yoga. With power yoga, it is the fitness portion that attracts many because it is a way to practice a form of yoga and still see some toning and weight loss benefits.
In addition, power yoga, unlike traditional forms raises your heart rate, so there the cardiovascular benefits involved as well, depending on how quickly you get through the workout. With tradition yoga practice, the idea is not to increase heart rate, but to bring everything into a peaceful balance, so there is quite a difference between the two types of yoga. Many people in the East discount that power yoga is actually yoga at all because it has pulled away from the traditional “way of life” as yoga has been practiced for thousands of years in the East.
However, for those involved in the rigorous power yoga and those that teach it defend it as a way of life that can help all aspects of the body, mind, and spirit with the added benefit of offering weight loss benefits. It is a popular way to get in shape, have fun, and know that the practice is somewhat related to an ancient way of life.
Many people engage or learn traditional forms of yoga before they learn power yoga, because this gives them a firm foundation of what yoga is truly about. On the other hand, there are many people in the West that jump into power yoga without ever learning the traditional way of yoga, which for some can be disheartening because it is such an old practice that knowing the traditional form will actually enhance learning the more rigorous ways of yoga, which improves the connection before body, mind, and spirit.