In almost all of my classes I start with a 5-second hold in plank. It’s not an extreme pose or an extreme length of time, but it signifies my personal approach to teaching, and, in fact, my practice as well. For me, strength is an integral part of the yoga practice.
When some new students think “yoga” they typically think about flexibility. Yet, time and again, I find myself chuckling a bit to myself when I hear a person remark to me about how surprised they were at the hard-work and muscle strength that they tapped into during a yoga class.
Of course, the yoga practice spans a wide-range of styles and traditions. Everything from Yoga Nidra or “yogic sleep” to the vigorous style of Rocket Yoga – no matter what you’re looking for as a student, you’re likely to find a practice that is right for you.
Strength in yoga is as equally important as flexibility. Yoga is a practice about developing both. Strength and softness. In Sanskrit, Sthira and Sukha.
But, if you’re looking for a yoga class that really incorporates strength and strength-building, try out one of the following styles:
Ashtanga Yoga: Fast-paced movements carry you through an athletic set sequence of postures always beginning with Sun Salutations and ending with backbending. This style of yoga was created by K. Pattabhi Jois, and is foundational to many modern styles of Hatha yoga.
The Rocket Yoga: The Rocket yoga was created when Larry Shultz decided to adapt traditional Ashtanga Yoga for western audiences. Like Ashtanga, this athletic practice uses a set series of sequences, however in a faster-paced form that allows more room for individual adaptations.
Baptiste Power Yoga: A strength-based yoga practice created by Baron Baptise which provides physical, emotional, and spiritual instructions for students as they move through chosen sections of the power yoga sequence.
Vinyasa: Many of the above classes incorporate vinyasa. Vinyasa yoga, often referred to as “flow” yoga, encourages students to move fluidly through postures using repeated patterns of movement to connect each new pose. It focuses on linking breath to each movement. Vinyasa yoga was popularized by Indra Devi.
Bikram Yoga: Bikram yoga is a set sequence of 26 postures that are taught in a room heated to 105 F. Founded by Bikram Choudhry, many studios now call this style simply “Hot Yoga".
These yoga classes are all designed to encourage heat-building in the body and strength-building in the muscles. If you are new to any of these styles, try out a class and remember to take it at your own pace!
Let us know what your favorite strength-based yoga style is in the comments!