Q: What is the difference between Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga?

A: Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga share the same roots. Both rely on the heat created through ujaii breath and a non stop pace. Both forms gracefully flow from posture to posture to create a purifying heat, a fit body and a calm mind. Sometimes the terms Ashtanga and Power Yoga are used interchangeably.

The way I would describe the difference is like this: Ashtanga Yoga follows a set series so Ashtangis do the same exact routine every practice. There are advantages to this system. First of all it you don't have to think about what comes next, you can just do it and not get your mind involved in your asana (physical yoga) practice. Secondly, by going over the same routine over and over again, one can really perfect the series. Also, no doubt about it, the Ashtanaga series is a well thought out series. It works. I still occasionally practice the Ashtanga Yoga series and have nothing but great things to say about it. If the poses are like musical notes, the way they are sequenced together in Ashtanga is like one of those classic Bob Marley songs that no matter how often you hear, you always love it.

Where Asthtanga yoga follows the same routine every day, in these Power Yoga classes we do something different every single class. I think of it this way. There are thousands of yoga poses, why limit yourself to the same thing day in and day out? Why not focus more on Back Bends one day, Forward Bends another day, Strengthening Poses another day, etc... Seems balanced to me.

I mean, let's take a fun poses like the splits (Hanumansana) or simple hip openers like pigeon pose. Just because they are not part of the Primary Series means I can't practice it?!? Or how about nice simple back openings like Bow Pose (Danurasana) or Seated twists (Ardha Matsendrana) - These are all part of the Ashtanga Second Series. I can't do those for two, three or seven years - however long it takes to master the first ("primary") series?

I like to think that each class I conduct is specifically designed for the energy and the ability level of the people there. Yoga is about finding out what your body and mind needs and giving it that nourishment. I am trying every second of every class to tune in to each person there and collectively give what is needed.

Variety is fun, exciting and good. When I go snowboarding, do I do the same run everyday? When I play music, do I want to play the same song every time? I certainly don't make love following the same routine each time. So why would I want to do the same yoga routine every single day?

Of course, that's just my opinion. I encourage everyone to try several different forms of yoga and see what works for them. Maybe you want to do one style one day and another the next. I do. I'll say it again, find out what YOUR body and mind needs and give it that.

Tracy, Pattabhi Jois, Eoin and Sharat