|Power Yoga helps me feel strong when I’m out on the trails.|
I’m dripping sweat. My hands move forward towards the top of my yoga mat and my feet back into the Downward Dog position then I hop, step or float to the top of my mat to Mountain Pose to Ragdoll to Flat Back and now step into Warrior Two. My heart is pounding, my face and body flushed, and I’m feeling GOOD.
Loud, inspiring music comes from the speakers in the small studio. And all around me, other sweaty bodies in the hour long Power Yoga class are somewhere in my consciousness.
But the focus needed to follow the rapid patterns of movements and step-by-step instructions that the instructor is calling out has me tuning both the other people in the class and the external world of to-do-lists and stressful thoughts OUT... Thus allowing an intensely gratifying tuning IN to my mind-body connection.
Stripped down to a sports bra and the lightest pair of yoga pants possible because of the extra heat pumped into the room for the class, all thoughts of vanity are unnecessary. The concentration required to get our bodies into the correct position before we quickly move into the next doesn’t allow obsession over body-image. And after just a few classes, I lose my shyness and whip off my usual layers to join the rest of the class in exposing lots of high temperature flesh.
The hour is crammed with an intense fitness flow that is all about movement and massive strengthening. We all leave the class with a satisfying, post-exercise adrenaline rush of peace mixed with full on body power. YES. My muscles are worked and my heart pumped.
I’m fired up about this Power Yoga. After years of pushing my body to athletic extremes in the mountains and on the sports fields, and after years of dabbling in yoga based on gentle stretching with relaxy music, I just may have found a perfect, new exercise to complement my hiking and skiing.
One: Full Body Workout
Two: Faster Paced but Still, Oddly, Relaxing
Four: Increased Flexibility & Stability
Five: Higher Heat Allows for Injury Prevention and Better Circulation. @ 75-85 degrees F
Six: Low Impact
Seven: Mind-Body Focus Required
Eight: The Best Kind of Flow
Nine: Stress Relief
And, Ten: Scientifically Proven, Finally
There is now real science backing up the health benefits of Yoga in general. Taken from a 2016 HuffingtonPost article, The New Science on the Health Benefits of Yoga, "'What I've found through studying yoga therapy is that people who have a daily practice have effortlessly and automatically changed their lifestyle. They eat better, sleep better, their lifestyle is more regulated.' says [Dilip] Sarkar, who also serves as chairman of the School of Intagrative Medicine at Taksha University in Hampton, Virginia."
Now back to Power Yoga, specifically. Note: I highly recommended knowing some basic yoga poses before joining a Power Yoga class. Since you quickly flow from pose to pose, there’s little time for adjustment because, bam! you’re onto the next pose.
Don’t push too hard: It’s ok to take it easy. Be gentle with your body. As with any yoga or new exercise class, build up to the more difficult level of poses. I watch my neck due to fun but massive wear-and-tear from high impact sports over the years, so I’m extra careful about my twists and often take the easiest version of a pose with no yoga-pose-shame. Alert the instructor before class begins if you have back or neck issues or are new to the class.
I’m excited about this movement. Mind-body-health. Athletic yoga. And although I'll always prefer getting outside and being on a mountain, Power Yoga is an excellent complement to trail-time, especially when I only have a quick hour to spare.
Hiking up the trail last night my legs felt like steel. Powerful. Connected. I can feel the benefits of my Power Yoga in my trail performance and in my overall enjoyment of the hike.
See you in the studio. And out on the trails.
PS. There are a LOT of guys in the Power Yoga classes - not a female dominated class. For more information about Power Yoga, read here.