Power Yoga: A Brief History
The main tenant of the Ultimate Yogi Program is that the greatest teacher there ever is – exists within. If that is the case why would you even listen to an outside source?
Where did Power Yoga come from?
In essence the yoga teacher is your guide. He/she has travelled the path and has enough experience to alert you to the twists and turns that would throw you off your practice. No yoga teacher knows exactly how you are feeling and no yoga teacher can tell you how deep you should go. They can offer suggestions,but only you can know which ones you are capable of and which ones you are not ready for. The main practices in the ultimate yogi program can be described as Power Yoga but there are a lot of other influence as well. To find out where they come from you have to look at the teachers that were involved in their creation.
Travis started teaching yoga in Thailand after a life changing event inspired him to take the practice up as a lifestyle. He was on a Retreat with Govindas – one of his main teachers when he nearly drowned. He decided that life was too fleeting and quick to waste it in endeavors that lack meaning so he devoted his time and attention to the practice of Yoga. Travis is known for his intense power yoga flows mixed in with the sweetness of gentle and yin yoga.
The best word one would use to describe Govindas is authentic. He owns Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica, one of the many donation based studios in Santa Monica. His Yoga can be described as a sweet power yoga flow with a lot of love and spirituality. Govindas is also heavily influenced by Bhakti or Devotional Yoga and leads many Kirtan sessions around the globe. Govindas started teaching power yoga under Bryan Kest but started leaning towards a gentler approach in his later years.
Born in 1964, Bryan Kest has been practicing yoga since 1979, starting when he was 14-years-old. He initially studied in Hawaii with David Williams, the first person to bring Ashtanga yoga to America. He then studied in India with K. Pattabhi Jois, the main proponent of Ashtanga yoga. Kest has been teaching yoga since 1985. “My primary objective”, says Kest, “besides turning more and more people on to a healthier, more peaceful lifestyle that continually challenges them to grow, is to teach a system of exercise that fully integrates the body, mind, and spirit. Bryan is credited with coining the term power yoga.
Ashtanga means eight limbs and Krishna Pattabhi Jois is perhaps the most famous teacher in the liniage. Ashtanga is a rigorous and demanding practice and teachers are famous for their disciplined practice. The sequencing in any power yoga class is to be found rooted within the Ashtanga practice. Students are taken through primary 1 to primary 6 series and are only allowed to progress when their teacher says they are. Jois studied directly under Krishnamacharya who is known as the father of modern yoga.
Yoga has had a varied history but only became popular in the west under the tutulidge of Krishnamacharya. Krishnamacharya had four favorite students and each of them developed their own distinct style of Yoga. “Whether you practice the dynamic series of Pattabhi Jois, the refined alignments of B.K.S. Iyengar, the classical postures of Indra Devi, or the customized Vinyasa of Viniyoga, your practice stems from one source: a five-foot, two-inch Brahmin born more than one hundred years ago in a small South Indian village.” The practice was first mentioned in the vedas – and the yoga sutras of Patanjali are the first written account of Yoga. It is probably a lot older but according to documented history, yoga can be said to have existed for over 5000 years. The original practice was used as a gateway to meditation and contains just a fraction of the poses you find in a typical power yoga class.
The sequencing in the Ultimate Yogi can be found in many vinyassa or power yoga classes but it is rooted in tradition. The program tries to fuse together the rich tapestry of the yogic lineage with modern day science. Amongst the seven power yoga practices you also get the benefits of
- Gentle Yoga
- Yin Yoga
- The Mountain Pose Series
It has been described as the future of power yoga but it is firmly rooted in the past.