Power Yoga. The very name invokes images of lean athletic yogis dripping sweat and perfect poses.  Even if you have never heard of it odds are it is affecting the way you think about and practice yoga. Why you ask? It is widely popular and the very definition of modern yoga.

Also known as Baptiste Yoga, Power Yoga classes are active and the heat is cranked (90 ℉ | 32 ℃+). The emphasis is on standing postures which helps not only to strengthen your core but help you stay focused. If you have ever been to a Power Yoga class the odds are that you have heard the instructor utter the phrase “get out of your head and on to your mat”. The ultimate goal is just that, to take the practitioner out of their head and get them focused on the class and the poses at hand. 

Power Yoga = Empowering Yoga

So what you might ask is the difference between Power Yoga and traditional vinyasa (Hatha) Yoga, besides the profuse sweating? All yoga is supposed to have the same objective, wellness or wellbeing. When you translate the word Yoga in English from Sanskrit, it means “yoke” or “to yoke”, which can be translated into join, union, harmonize or harness. I prefer to use the term harmonize because harmonizing connotes harmony. It is the harmony of moving from pose to pose in sync with your mind, body, and soul. The very image for me is akin to the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It is the harmony of being one with your yoga mat, and being one with God. When I am on my mat I am harmonizing my mind, body and soul with God. I focus on Jesus and his teachings and allow the Holy Spirit to empower me throughout my practice. 

Flow…Pose to Pose…Just Flow

Often Power Yoga will have a focus on a specific part of the body or group of poses and will build up in a progressive sequence, from more basic poses to more advanced ones. One of the effects of Power Yoga on the body is that, because of the dynamic nature of the practice, the muscles warm up quickly. It also increases oxygen intake and the heart rate. The asanas/poses create muscle tone, which helps to develop strength and stability in the body. Stretching the muscles while contracted to make the muscles longer and will help to increase flexibility. 

The sequence, also known as the Journey into Power (aka JIP), was created by Baron Baptiste.

“Yoga is ultimately a journey into truth: truth about who you are, what you are capable of, how your actions affect your life.  Truth is the only medicine that ever “cures” us; it is the only means by which we can live at our full, incredible potential.” – Baron Baptiste 

The ​important aspects of the Baptiste method are summarized by the five pillars: breath, heat, flow, gaze, and core stabilization. 

BREATH: The primary focus of a Baptiste Power Vinyasa (BPV) is breath, and in particular Ujjayi breathing. In ujjayi breath, you tone or constrict the back of your throat (as you would when fogging up a mirror) as you inhale and exhale through your nose.

Ujjayi breathing slows down the breath to keep it deep and powerful during challenging postures. When breath becomes short and shallow, it can trigger fight-or-flight reflexes in the body. Keeping the breath long and deep helps you stay calm.

HEAT: Typically the room should be heated to 90 to 95 degrees. This external heating of the room is intended to allow students to quickly stoke their internal fires (tapas) for a loose, sweaty practice. 

FLOW: Flow is a vinyasa style practice in which movement is linked to breathing (daily practice is encouraged). In BPV the JIP consists of poses that are grouped with intention, Integration, Awakening, Vitality, Equanimity, Grounding, Igniting, Stability, Opening, Release, Rejuvenation (Inversions), Deep Rest. 

GAZE: Drishti means looking at a particular place while doing yoga poses. In BPV, the gaze is not specific for each posture. Instead, students are directed to fix their attention on any point that doesn’t move and to keep their eyes soft. Practicing this gaze helps you turn your attention away from what’s going on in the room around you and bring your focus inward.

CORE: Core stabilization means the constant drawing in of the belly button toward the spine. It is intended to provide support by engaging the core for balance and strength.

 

 

True North Alignment

THE CENTERLINE
The centerline is the place between the right and left sides of the body. From the skin to the muscle to the bone HUG IN… then, all the engaged parts of the body pull into the centerline and core to PRESS & EXPRESS OUT.
1. Ground down like EARTH
    FEET
        Both feet face 12 o’clock
        Ground down the 4 corners of the feet
        Stretch the toes out on the mat
    LEGS
        Inner ankles back, outer ankles down
        Outer shins in
        From the skin to the muscle to the bone, hug in
2. Flow like WATER
    1. Soften the joints
    2. Keep the pelvis neutral
    3. Lift the front of the pelvis as the tailbone descends
3. Build an inner FIRE
    1. From the skin to the muscle to the bone, hug in
    2. Pull the pit of the belly in and up
    3. Draw the front ribs together, expand the mid-back
    4. Expand from the inside out
4. Soften like AIR
    1. Thoracic spine draws in
    2. Upper arm bones back
    3. Shoulder blades move towards the spine & press into the body
5. Create SPACE for something new
    1. Draw in to create full expression out!

THE 5 ORGANIZING PRINCIPALS OF TRUE NORTH ALIGNMENT
1. Be Intentional:
 in creating the physical foundation of the pose & being up to something bigger than yourself
2. Balanced Action:
Create Sthira Sukha
3.  The Five Pillars:
Put in and keep present Drishti, Ujjayi, Bandhas, Tapas, Vinyasa
4. Total Body Integrity:
PULL IN, PRESS DOWN & LIFT UP to integrate… create muscle to bone connection (pull into centerline & core)
5. Total Body Expression:
PRESS, LIFT, MOVE & fully express out (move out from center & core)
THE TEN TENETS OF TEACHING BAPTISTE YOGA
1. Come from we are connected
2. Drop what you know and listen
3. Teach from the methodology
4. Fill the space
5. Leave people in their greatness
6. Speak into each and every
7. Listen for how your words are landing in people’s bodies and hearts
8. Create the listening for contribution
9. Look for and speak to what is missing
10. Generate inspiration

THE ART & MASTERY OF PRACTICING & TEACHING

1. LOOK: For True North & what’s possible. Put your drishti ON the areas you want to transform.
2. LISTEN: Your listening makes the difference and not your knowledge.
3. GIVE TOOLS: That make a difference right now

THE 3 THEMES OF BAPTISTE TRAINING

1. Be a YES: As a creation, not a concept. Put your attention ON what you want to have happen and be for it.
2. Give Up What You Must: Bring into view & let go the fixed drishti’s (perceptions) & Tadasana’s (positions) that thwart and constrain you.
3. Come From You Are Ready Now: Move, breathe & have your being from “Right now is all I’ve got.” Make the higher call at each step.
THE THREE SOURCE PRINCIPLES
1. Physicalness
2. Possibility
3. Empowerment