Vinyasa Flow & Power Yoga Styles
by Marianne Woods Cirone,
M.S., R.Y.T., Certified Yoga Teacher
In Ashtanga (or astanga) yoga, also known as power yoga,
the yoga postures flow with an emphasis on strength and agility.
Ashtanga yoga is also referred to as Flow Yoga or Vinyasa
(series of poses), and focuses less on alignment than Iyengar
yoga, and props are used less frequently. Ashtanga yoga, popularized
by originator Pattabhi Jois, often appeals to the person who
is fit or desires to become so quickly as it usually involves
a challenging physical routine. Ashtanga yoga takes its name
from the eight limbs of yoga which include moral, physical
and spiritual practices, which are taught in many classes,
typically more so in yoga studios. An excellent book on Ashtanga
Yoga is Yoga Mala by Pattabhi Jois. The cornerstone of power
yoga is the sun salutation, a twelve-pose flowing series which
is modified in various ways known as the primary and secondary
series, with attention is paid to linking the breath and the
movements. Those new to yoga may want to take time to become
familiar with each pose before going to make sure they understand
the poses before beginning the flow.
The cornerstone of power yoga is the sun salutation, a twelve-pose
flowing series which is modified in various ways known as
the primary and secondary series, with attention is paid to
linking the breath and the movements. Those new to yoga may
want to take time to become familiar with each pose before
going to make sure they understand the poses before beginning
A classic and maybe the most popular book on Ashtanga yoga
is Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual: An Illustrated Guide
to Personal Practice by David Swenson. It is a spiral-bound
to enhance its usability during practice, and contains 650
photographs which include the full primary and intermediate
series, which are two of the divisions of ashtanga yoga. This
book includes modifications of poses and the explanations
behind the poses and their sequencing. Readers can create
their own routines lasting from 15-minutes to over two hours.
David's brother, Doug, has also written a book on Ashtanga
yoga, called Power Yoga for Dummies.
For those interested in other Ashtanga or Power yoga books,
Baron Baptiste has recently released a popular book entitled,
Journey into Power: How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your
True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga and has several
videos to complement the book. Veteran yoga teacher Beryl
Bender Birch has written an earlier book called Power Yoga:
The Total Strength and Flexibility Workout and also has developed
a power yoga video tape/DVD.
Books on Ashtanga yoga provide excellent support for classes
and videos because often the classes move quickly and there
is little time to discuss or analyze the individual poses.
A fairly new book on Ashtanga yoga is Ashtanga Yoga: The Definitive
Step-By-Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga by yoga instructor John
Scott, with a foreword by Ashtanga yoga guru Pattabhi Jois,
which provides clear photographs of the "first series". This
book can help clarify the poses and the sequencing for Ashtanga
practitioners. One of the features of Ashtanga yoga is the
emphasis on the breathing and coordination of each movement
with the poses, which Scott discusses.
Ashtanga Yoga for Women by Sally Griffyn and Micheala Clarke
is suggested as a reference for women who do ashtanga yoga
and are looking for specific modifications appropriate for
women. This book contains the primary series, plus the benefits
and sequencing of "power yoga" as it relates to the female
life cycle and for specific purposes such as stress relief
or detoxification. This book also includes informations on
preventing injuries, healthy eating, and further resources.
Knowing how to modify poses for your own unique characteristics,
injuries, etc. is very important in ashtanga yoga since classes
can be fast-paced.
A form of Ashtanga that originated in New York is Jivamukti
Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul, by Sharon Gannon
and David Life. Their book by the same name describes the
order in which poses are done, but not the detail of the poses
themselves. Their focus of their power yoga workout incorporates
deeply the yogic scriptures, plus chanting and meditation.
Gannon and Life have been pictured on the cover of Yoga Journal
and the Jivamukti (meaning "soul liberation") style of strong
spiritual focus in addition to the sequencing of the poses
in an asthanga format has made their style of yoga quite popular.
Before undertaking videos such as these it helps if one is
familiar with the individual postures first, and knows what
actions and resistances they are striving toward in the posture
as the videos tend to supply inadequate depth in this regard.
Visiting a yoga class can be helpful in supplying this information.
Some experts suggest that a potential downside of Ashtanga
yoga for both experienced and inexperienced practitioners
can be injuries. Caution should be used in ashtanga practice,
especially if any pain is experienced during or after practice
as detrimental movement patterns could become ingrained. Sticky
mats should be used unless they get excessively wet. Cotton
yoga rugs can be useful to avoid slipping on a mat if perspiration
gets the mat wet and slippery. The rug can be used on top
of the sticky mat also.
Comments or Questions
on Ashtanga or Power Yoga?