Yoga didn’t seem like the obvious choice for Cheri Stammen.
“I’m a competitive person, very goal-oriented, and I love anything where I can break a sweat,” Stammen said.
While yoga can help increase strength and flexibility, breath work and meditation are more common goals than breaking a sweat in most practices. That is, unless it’s power yoga.
“It’s not the calming, relaxing yoga most people think of,” said Justina Sanford, owner of Metta Yoga Studio in Centerville. “The practice itself is typically challenging, bringing you to your personal edge — physically, mentally, spiritually — so that you can learn, break through, and grow from it.”
Power yoga was a perfect fit for Stammen who is also an outdoor fitness enthusiast and avid runner.
“I get the same feeling from this class as I do after a good run,” she said. “Only instead of a runner’s high, it’s a yoga high.”
Power yoga basics
Power yoga is more physically intense and faster paced than traditional yoga. There is often an increased emphasis on the core, and it will elevate your heart rate, much like a cardio workout. There is a heat component to some but not all power yoga classes. It’s not the same as hot yoga, although studios such as the Hot Yoga and Wellness Center do offer power yoga.
“It’s a type of yoga that incorporates a physical practice with self inquiry and meditation,” Sanford said. “It’s accessible for all levels due to its clear language, specific technique, and modifications to meet your practice where it’s at.”
Power yoga classes can vary greatly as instructors incorporate their individual style.
Sanford is a certified Baptiste instructor. Baron Baptiste founded Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga in the 1980s and was soon introducing the intense, rigorous practice to the American public. Athletes too benefitted from Baptiste’s teaching as he was the Philadelphia Eagles peak performance specialist in the mid 90s.
Baptiste yoga has been described as a “potent physical yoga practice” but most power yoga classes will be physically challenging.
Power yoga benefits
Calm minds and sweaty bodies — students reap the mental benefits of yoga along with the physical benefits of a fairly strenuous workout.
“It elevates your heart rate so you are getting cardio benefits,” Veronica Court said. “After some yoga classes, you feel relaxed. After this, you are exhausted, but you also have the mental benefits of yoga.
“It’s great for athletes, but I’ve also seen 50 and 60-year-old women really change their bodies.”
The Kettering resident started practicing power yoga while she was attending the University of Dayton School of Law. The class provided valuable “me time” for the law student as well as noticeable physical benefits.
“When I started, I couldn’t even touch my toes, I was so inflexible,” she said. “Now, I can step on my whole hand, the difference is amazing.”
For Stammen, the mental benefits sometimes outweigh the physical benefits.
“It’s really challenging, yet it’s really calming to the mind,” she said. “It’s a great mental release.”
Sanford has found that power yoga is a perfect fit for those who already have a fitness regimen and want to incorporate a yoga component, but the practice has something for everyone. Her students range in age from teens to those in their late 60s.
“The mental component really keeps people coming back,” Sanford said. “And we provide modifications, so everyone can do it.”
Power yoga classes have many names. Metta yoga (www.mettayogastudio.org) offers Power Flow classes while the Hot Yoga and Wellness Center (www.hotyogadayton.com) offers Power Flow/Power Vinyasa. In Dayton, Practice Yoga (http://practiceyogadayton.com/web/) offers Power Vinyasa, while Day Yoga Studio (www.dayyogastudio.com/) offers a Hot Power Hour class.
If power yoga appeals to you, check the class offerings at your local yoga studio or community recreation center as there are many variations of the practice offered.
“My personal belief is that yoga is for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding the type and the teacher that is right for you,” Sanford said.