Yoga Lady

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
vs Power Yoga

Power Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga are both Hatha Yoga and they are both Vinyasa Yoga. This means that are both physical based and poses flow together seamlessly. Power Yoga sequences can change from teacher to teacher and allow for great creativity.  Ashtanga Yoga uses set sequences.

  • Pros Of Ashtanga Yoga Sequences. Have been used for over 70+ years and has been proven to transform lives, bodies and minds. Simply stated, Ashtanga works.  It is systemic and scientifically set up to unlock the physical and energetic body. Great for home practice because Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is perfectly sequenced and requires no guess work, teacher training or extensive knowledge of
    yoga in order to practice. You can be assured that you will get the perfect amounts of strength, flexibility, breath work and mental tempering.  The set sequences encourage a state of moving meditation because the student knows where they are going which frees up the mind for a more internal practice. You  can practice at your own pace and have time to thoroughly focus and understand a posture before moving to the next. 
  • Pros of Power Yoga Sequencing. You never know what you are going to get which can be very exciting and fun. Free to do what feels good and what your body needs for that day. Unlike Ashtanga, you can practice any posture you want without having to wait to get to that point in the sequence.  Can use fun music and props. You are free to be creative as you want. You can even make things up. Very freeing. Poses are specific to the cuerrent lifestyle and body type. Postures also tend to be more simple.
  • Cons of Ashtanga Yoga Sequence Okay, I am biased. I love it but I will list what many students complain about. To get the full benefit of the practice, it requires memorization.  It requires that students meet certain developmental milestones in order to progress to the next posture which causes frustration for many students.  It can take a student years to move to another sequence. It is also quite possible that they never move to another sequence.  Therefore, they end up practicing the same postures over and over again. Requires lots of dedication to learn. These poses are not easy and take consistent practice to master. Many of the poses are old school and are difficult for those who have very tight hips from sitting in chairs all day. 
  • Cons of Power Yoga Sequence Student is at the mercy of the teacher. There are some guidelines for Vinyasa sequencing but the teacher has creative license. While many teachers do sequences based on mastering skills and opening up energy, many put them together just to look pretty and some just flat out don't know what they are doing and just mimic others. The sequences are geared towards the general studio population. It doesn't matter if you are in the beginner class or the  advanced class, their are always outliers. So if you are more advanced then the average student in your class, your practice is held back. If you need more help then the average student in your class, you are left behind. There are also a lot of distractions that hinder a moving meditation practice. Music, the teacher constantly calling out postures and you having to listen to figure out what is next all take way from an internal practice.

Intensity and Level of Difficulty:
Over the years, I have found that this depends on what you started out with. People who start with Ashtanga find a hard core Power Yoga Class to be difficult. Those who started with Power Yoga find Ashtanga to be extremely difficult. It is all about what you are used to. 

  • Physical Workout Both provide an amazing physical workout when practiced without breaks and at the proper pace. 
  • Mental Workout Both bring about self inquiry over time especially when guided by a teacher with an understanding of the non physical side of yoga.

Ease For Beginners:

In the beginning,  Led or guided Ashtanga Yoga classes were not meant for beginners. They were a way for practitioners to come together as a community once a week and also aided in learning proper breath counts and pacing. A guided class done with traditional counting and pace is a real butt kicker and leaves no space for lengthy demos and pose descriptions.  You have five real breaths to get into a posture and that is it.  Over the years, guided Ashtanga Yoga classes have started to be paced more like Power Yoga Classes. The teacher waits for the majority of the students to get into the posture before counting, will give more instruction and demos and will even add counts. However, since  the poses cannot be changed (then it is not Ashtanga anymore), only modified, it is still a hard pill for most beginners to swallow.

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Mysore style, however, is great for beginners because they can move at their own pace. Most studios divide Power Yoga classes up into different skill levels and their is usually one that is appropriate for beginners. Power Yoga postures are meant to be accessible to everyone so they tend to be more simple whereas Ashtanga Yoga poses can be very complicated.

How Soon Can You Join:

There are some of us who have a conqueror spirit. We like a nice gentle stretch but deep down we want to know what it feels like to float in and out of postures, put our legs behind our heads, and touch our heels in a back bend. Hands down Ashtanga will get you in the circus quicker than Power Yoga.  The first Ashtanga Yoga sequence has legs behind the head and floats built in! Power Yoga teachers rarely  include stuff like that in their classes because you always have that one person who has no business doing it trying to do it anyway and ending up hurt. Also it just takes too long to explain and perfect. When you have a class that changes every day, you can't focus on any one thing for too  long.  In Ashtanga Yoga it is built in so you can't help but learn it. 

Injuries are not caused by yoga poses. They are caused by humans improperly doing yoga poses. When done properly, the poses are therapeutic and life changing. Both of these types of yoga have unique issues when it comes to injuries. Power Yoga is very fast paced and is often taught in packed rooms where there is no way the teacher can pay attention to everyone. When moving quickly, alignment is often lost and injuries occur. The same is also true for guided Ashtanga Yoga classes.

Something unique to Ashtanga Yoga is that the postures are more complicated so when done improperly, the potential for injury is greater. While Power Yoga uses the same poses as Ashtanga, you will rarely see postures like full lotus which is a major part of Ashtanga Yoga and when done improperly, is the number one cause of knee injuries in yoga students.

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