Power Yoga, founded by Beryl Bender Birch and Thom Birch, is based on ashtanga yoga This physical form of yoga incorporates both a strong mind and body workout. Practiced in a sequence of postures, power yoga builds strength and focus while unwinding tight joints and muscles.
Hatha yoga is no longer generic but encompasses a variety of techniques. The philosophy of yoga remains the same but the teaching methods differ. Sri Krishnamacharya was one of the greatest teachers of the century, inspiring many teachers who brought their own techniques to the West.
There is a yoga style for every personality. Investigate the different styles of yoga before choosing a class. Viniyoga is a gentle, individual approach, as are kripalu, integral, and sivananada. Ananda’s gentle approach also incorporates the use of affirmations. Kundalini yoga does not focus on asana but uses breathing, chanting, and other techniques to access the body’s energy. Ashtanga, Bikram, and Iyengar are considered more strenuous. Remember: yoga is personal, and though styles vary, the benefits are the same.
The backbone of hatha yoga are the poses, or postures, and these are called asana. The asana are fluid movements that stretch the muscles and tone the body and are held from several seconds to a few minutes. If you aren’t flexible or if you’re used to moving slowly, you may feel intimidated or uncomfortable with how the body moves. This will pass. The body in yoga is like an instrument: when you first practice, it may seem out of tune, but the more you practice yoga, the more in tune you become with your body.
We’ll focus more on the asana, and illustrate the most common poses.