There’s Core Power, Life Power, and Hot Power, Power Life, Power Sculpt, Power Fusion, and Power Flow. The list of studios and class names is endless. Simply think of a random word and put the word Power before or after it, and chances are someone is using it to sell yoga.
But what does power have to do with yoga in the first place? What is Power Yoga? And how did it come to eclipse (in such a short period of time) all other schools and styles?
Perhaps Power Yoga is best understood as the bastard child of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and the modern American gym scene. Founded with the best intentions, but tempered by a great deal of short-sighted naïveté, two American yoga teachers independently coined this phrase in the 1990’s after studying an authentic yogic lineage and then attempting to make the practice more accessible to westerners.
Today Power Yoga has become essentially a generic term used to describe a vigorous, fitness-based approach to using yoga postures as a means of working-out. Power yoga generally rejects the rigidity of traditional sequencing (which actually worked) and instead allows each individual teacher the freedom to teach any pose in any order (which doesn’t).
With it’s emphasis on strength and endurance over range of motion, Power Yoga will someday be credited with bringing yoga to the masses and then sadly and inevitably disappointing them.
Why? Because it doesn’t work. Power has nothing to do with yoga.
Power is defined as the ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
Yoga however is a condition of unity consciousness, and the disciplines that were intentionally designed to bring about this state require that the practitioner learn to transcend a sense of separate self, and relinquish the desire for control.
Power Yoga as the latest work-out craze will get your heart-rate up, but according to recent studies that won’t help you lose weight and isn’t even necessary for cardio-vascular health. Plus, the more you focus on the work-out like qualities of the practice, the less actual yogic benefits (like inner-peace, tranquility, and lasting bliss) you’re going to receive.
Troubling isn’t it?
In an industry that has seen the number of American yoga practitioners grow by over 50% in the last 4 years, with currently some 36 million people in the United States practicing yoga actively, it’s sad to think that most of them participate in what is essentially the step-aerobics version of the real thing.