While at the grocery store the other day, we ran into some old friends. As they leaned into hug us, I instantly flinched. Not because I am fearful of hugs, but because I was fearful they would get a little too close for their own good. You see, they were grabbing a bottle of wine and clearly going to a dinner party somewhere; after all, that’s a perfectly acceptable way to spend your Thursday evening. We, on the other hand, were in our standard weeknight uniform– sweat drenched tank tops in the peak of winter.
Despite our flushed faces, matted hair and sticky appearance, we heard the following:
“Wow! Y’all look great! Are y’all training for a marathon,” asked the wife.
“Tonight must have been the long run, right,” asked her husband.
We just laughed. “Actually, no, we just left a power yoga class.”
And then it happened, they asked the question that everyone asks us after they haven’t seen us in a while and just so happen to encounter us on a week night.
“What IS power yoga?”
It’s all too familiar a conversation, and it can be hard to explain because so many people have preconceived notions of what yoga is. Some associate chanting, skinny women in flowy clothing, the man-bun, and incense; most translate yoga to mean stretching and relaxing. Few appreciate that yoga has different lines of disciplines and even fewer identify yoga with muscle sculpting and cardiovascular fitness. In our experience, people are usually shocked to find out that we maintain a healthy weight, keep toned muscles and a focused mind just through a short hour of power yoga a few nights a week.
Power yoga provides an intense, purposeful workout. As you become aware of the strength and endurance of your own body, you form a mindful connection with what your body requires to be an efficient machine, rapidly acquiring a level of fitness equal to that of a cross-trained athlete. By working every muscle and every emotion, power yoga challenges you physically and mentally. It is a fitness regime that combines flexibility, strength and balance so that your entire body sees the benefits. With a dedicated practice, power yogis shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight, tone muscles and gain some serious strength. By incorporating sequences that target the cardiovascular system and poses that isolate whole muscle groups, power yoga improves lung function, physical strength and aerobic capacity.
In short, power yoga IS yoga. It is the union of mind, body and spirit. Sweat is just the glue that holds it all together… And keeps me from leaning in for that hug most weekdays after 6:00 p.m.