Writer (and instructor) Janan Araujo-Siam demonstrates a power yoga pose.

Image: Tasha Gorel

I've taught a yoga class called “Powerful Flow” seven-to-10 times per week for the past few years. In particular, I teach Baptiste Power Yoga, one of the world’s most practiced styles of power yoga—and one of the styles that defined the very term “power yoga” back in the '90s.

When it comes to a yoga class, most assume "power" just means it’ll be really hard. In fact, that's one of the most common questions I get.

But that's something of a misconception. Think of it this way: You would say that a moving machine is activated and sustained by some sort of power source, right? As humans, we all have power, too—something generating us as to stay alive, to keep putting fuel into our bodies, make decisions, even breathe. Knowing that, here are three reasons why you should consider taking a power yoga class.

1. You’ll calm your mind through your body.

Power yoga includes at least 30–40 minutes of challenging postures that are usually simple to do but also intense to experience as they take you deep into the sensation of your muscles and your breath working to keep you upright and aligned. The intention is basic: become aware of real body sensations and, therefore, become present. Through your effort doing the poses, you become present to the thoughts you’re having rather than consumed by worrying, imagining, planning, etc.

Undistracted, you have the space to let those thoughts run their course rather than attaching to their illusionary stories. Over time practicing power yoga, this becomes easier and easier; eventually, you'll take this ability—to have thoughts rather than be your thoughts—off your mat and into the real world.

2. You’ll grow more self-love and self-acceptance.

Practicing power yoga is all about focusing on your experience while you're sweating, trying, and concentrating; as a result, you'll increasingly find beauty in your own effort. We commonly tell ourselves we can't—we aren't strong enough, flexible enough, or good enough to do these poses. In consistently “getting back on the horse” of a power yoga practice, your actions will start to prove those notions wrong. Over time, you’ll realize you actually can do what you used to say you couldn’t.

3. You’ll work for what you wish for.

We have a saying in Baptiste Power Yoga: “Don’t wish for it; work for it.” It means you must use your natural, already-there power to decide what actions to take next to live in the future that you want. We all want to feel healthy, strong, and vibrant. I used to suffer from heavy depression and a lot of anxiety; there were even times when I thought, this is just the way I am, and I didn’t even want to try to “be healthy.” 

When I finally started practicing power yoga after many years of wishing life was different, I slowly gained a new perspective on my ability to make choices. I discovered it was always already inside me, it just had been buried deep by all the thoughts, opinions, and feelings I had packed on. The raw physical experience of the practice awakened me to know my own power.

Now, I feel empowered to take on things I used to only wish for—in my job, my relationships, my health goals—even if I’m afraid I’ll fail when I work toward it. And I do fail sometimes. But strangely enough, even those failures end up reaping results that still open me up to the future that I want.

Try something out for at least a month to see what’s there for you. Notice your thoughts and opinions, then let them go. Do the work, and love yourself along the way. What have you got to lose other than a lot of sweat and a little ego?

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