Power Yoga vs Vinyasa Yoga – Which one is for you?

There are many different styles of yoga and choosing the right type of practice for you is an important decision. If you’re a beginner Yogi then we advise honing in on one of the yoga types and focusing on it until you have the basic principles of Yoga down. 

Power yoga and Vinyasa yoga have a lot of similar elements. If you want to connect more with the meditative side of yoga where there are elements such as savasana and meditation integrated into the class then Vinyasa may be a better choice for you. Power Yoga is the more athletic form and strays a little from the traditional Yoga principles. Needless to say, there is no wrong choice here, any form of Yoga is good in our books.    

What is power yoga?

Power yoga is a recent enough phenomenon and by recent we mean it’s been around since the 1980s. Power yoga is a more strenuous form of a workout than Vinyasa flow. It came to fruition to align yoga classes with the higher tempo fitness classes that were offered such as aerobics and Zumba. Power yoga is great for building strength and raising the heart rate to shed some calories. In these yoga classes, there are no elements of meditation with all the focus on dynamic power movements. It’s also closely aligned to Ashtanga Yoga, where the physical elements are at the center. 

What is vinyasa yoga?

Vinyasa is translated from Sanskrit ”to place in a special way”. This style of yoga is the progressive flow of poses that get gradually harder as you progress through the class. Vinyasa is often used as a general term for yoga classes that have a gradual flow to the class.  

One of the great things about Vinyasa is that it doesn’t follow a defined set of movements. So every class is different. Vinyasa is great for building strength, endurance, and balance. It can probably be better categorized as a lower intensity form of exercise but don’t fret you will definitely get your heart rate going practicing this type of yoga. In the 2013 study by the Journal of Yoga & Physical Therapy, the progressive movements that are undertaken in a Vinyasa class are a great way to bring the heart rate to the level of a light intensity cardio workout. 

The thing that you need to be aware of with Yoga as a form of exercise. Is that while it may not elevate your heart like an intense cardio class or focus on a muscle group like a weight training program, but it does build complete body strength and endurance. Yoga requires all of the muscles in the body to be active in a class.  So, you will develop a more complete body composition compared to if you focused solely on weight training or cardio. 

Benefits of power yoga

Helps build and tone the muscles 

Power Yoga is the most athletic form of Yoga and requires strength, endurance, and a high effort level from Yogis. In some poses, you will be carrying the weight of your body in areas such as your shoulders and arms for extended periods of time so it’s a serious workout. 

Although there are no weights involved you will be surprised at the strength and physique you can build with this type of Yoga. It will also get your heart rate moving so you should gradually build on your levels of fitness with consistent practice. As Power Yoga is the highest tempo Yoga class on offer, your heart rate will be elevated during which is great for burning calories. Headstands, handstands, and shoulder stands are all great ways of focusing on the muscles in the upper body. So if that is the focus area for you be sure to integrate these movements into your own self-practice.  

Low impact form of exercise

All forms of Yoga have this going for them. Working out can be strenuous on the body.  Running, weight lifting and multiple other forms of exercise can put a lot of stress on the body as you pound the pavement and push some iron. The beauty of Yoga is that you only use your body weight as a form of resistance, so the chance of injury is reduced compared to other forms of exercise.  

Drawbacks to power yoga 

Power Yoga requires a certain level of fitness. It is definitely the most athletic form of Yoga.  If you are looking for a more laid-back and restorative practice then Power Yoga is probably not the best choice for you.  If you have not prioritized fitness for a while and are looking to get into Yoga, then Vinyasa will probably suit your needs better.

Power Yoga classes also tend to be longer in length than other forms of Yoga. Classes typically are between 60-90 minutes so it is a larger time commitment.  

If you have had injuries in the past specifically in the shoulder or the back power yoga is not the best choice.  As these classes have a higher intensity level than say Vinyasa Yoga, the ability to get adjustments and alternate poses from the instructor isn’t there as much as the class moves at a fast cadence. 

Benefits of vinyasa flow 

Builds endurance and strength 

Like Power Yoga, Vinyasa flow is good at building endurance and strength. Power Yoga takes the cake in terms of being more focused on building power and endurance, but Vinyasa will also do this. Just not as intently. 

Practice on your own terms 

This can be a positive or a negative depending on the person that you talk to, but Vinyasa Yoga classes definitely have a more chilled out atmosphere to them when you compare them to Power Yoga classes.  There is also a heightened focus on working the mind in Vinyasa, so you’re looking to work the mind as much as the body then goes for Vinyasa. 

Helps you to learn to focus on your breath 

Vinyasa classes are all about the flow of the class and an important part of that flow is your focus on breathing as you hold and transition through poses. While all forms of Yoga have the breath integrated into a class. Vinyasa puts a large focus on it, it’s specifically called the Ujjayi breath. This breathing regulating technique energizes and calms at the same time and is core to any flow class. The sound of the breath on the body really allows you to focus on your time on the mat. 

Drawbacks vinyasa yoga 

Doesn’t get the heart rate going as much 

From a physical exertion standpoint. Power Yoga is the clear winner. The sessions are typically longer and there is a larger focus on more difficult holds for lengthened periods of time. Vinyasa classes have a distinct flow where you build up to a peak pose and then begin to wind down.  The poses you start off with will be easy and they will get gradually harder until you reach the peak. Power Yoga is pretty full-on throughout.  As a result, the number of calories you will burn in a Vinyasa class will be less than a power yoga class.

Which type of yoga is for me?

Getting into any type of yoga is a great choice, so you can’t go wrong with either form. It’s definitely better to focus on one style as you begin your yoga journey and you can always sample the other styles as you progress. 

For beginners, we recommend that you start off with Vinyasa classes. This style is great for understanding the basics of yoga with a pinch of meditative elements. Let’s not forget that Yoga is as much a workout for the mind as it is for the body and the meditative elements are core to working out the mind. So, don’t be afraid to embrace the mental parts of Yoga. 

Whichever path you choose we recommend that you go to class in person when that becomes a thing again. In-person classes are integral to understanding the correct form and alignment in poses. If meditation and slower progressive classes don’t sound like a kettle of fish then you might want to go with Power yoga.  When power yoga started in the 1990’s it was essentially a progression of Vinyasa yoga, so they do share a lot of the same movements. Power yoga also includes elements of Ashtanga.

The style of Yoga which is for you will very much depend on your age, fitness levels, and your goals for the style of yoga that you chose. If you’re still unsure of the type of Yoga that’s for you then there’s one simple solution. Go try out both styles. Once you’ve tried them both. You will know which style you want to focus on.  

Written by Adrian

An avid Yogi, I have been practicing yoga for a number of years. Enthused by all things yoga and love writing about my experiences and learnings

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