Well I guess I’m the best person to answer this question, considering I grew up from age 15 in Traditional yoga. By Traditional yoga, I mean a vinyasa yoga practice I studied in India called Ashtanga yoga. I am also the person who coined the term “Power Yoga.“
The difference between Yoga and Power Yoga or the difference between Power Yoga and normal yoga is nothing and/or everything. Let me explain. In India, most of the yoga practices are not physical, so right there you could say there are many differences between Power Yoga and most yoga practices. Also, the goal of yoga is enlightenment, so you could also say that anything that leads to enlightenment is a yoga practice. Yes, Power Yoga leads to enlightenment, so then you could say there is no difference.
What is Power Yoga and How Do You Do It?
The objective of Power Yoga is to strengthen the benevolent and eradicate the malevolent.
To do this, we have to become aware or enlightened of our mind state or the places our minds dwell, and with this awareness we can decide if we want to dwell in the place our mind is dwelling or not. This choice gives us the opportunity to empower or disempower the mind states that benefit (benevolent) us or hinder (malevolent) us. I feel from my own experience, this is aligned with the objective of all yoga, so in that there is no difference.
To do all this, we take a unique path. Yet if you could understand the thousands of different ways yoga is expressed in India and throughout the world, you could even say taking a unique path is not unique. I feel ultimately a yoga student learns yoga in the style of their instructor, whether it’s poses or exercises or meditations etc…. After learning and experiencing this core yoga, the student should then personalize the practice to fit most optimally their uniqueness, so when and if this student one day becomes an instructor, the yoga they share will be what they learned from their instructor, personalized to fit them. This is what I have done. Which means this yoga has now changed to some degree and in this yoga has evolved over the last few thousand years. Power Yoga is a by-product of this evolution. So in some ways it’s unique in the sense it is Bryan Kest’s or any of the myriad of instructors who copied this name.
And in some ways, it is not unique at all. So this is what Power Yoga is and how we do it; you have to take a class and see.
One last thing is that Power Yoga is not a style or system of yoga like so many other styles and systems of yoga. So there is no consistency in Power Yoga classes throughout the world. It’s basically a cool or stupid name, depending on your opinion, that anybody can use to describe their class and those classes vary greatly. So keep an open mind when attending a Power Yoga class, because you cannot be sure of what you will get, although most of them seem to be physically rigorous like vinyasa flow yoga. Yet I have even heard of a meditation class called Power Yoga.