Q: Could you explain the basics of a Power Yoga class? What poses should you do to warm up, what poses are good for creating a middle sequence, which kinds of core and ab work should you do, and how should you conclude the sequence? —Mary Alberhasky, Farley, Iowa
There are a number of styles called Power Yoga, many of which (including mine) tend to focus on vinyasa-based practice. I suggest you begin with some integrative postures—maybe come into Child’s Pose to find more of an internal focus for a minute or two. Then perhaps take Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) to begin awakening muscular effort and connecting to your overall physical structure. After that, a simple forward bend like Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold) can integrate your mind, body, and breath. You can play around with the specific poses you choose, but use these first few poses to get a sense of your mood and your body; then use that information to work the rest of your practice depending on how you’re feeling.
From there, start a warm-up series. Maybe take three to five Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) A series and three to five B series. Cultivate the sun dimension of your practice to awaken your inner fire. Then perhaps do a few simple standing balancing postures, which are wonderful for practicing concentration and reinforcing the principles of relaxation and effort.
After your balancing poses, add a short sequence of Warrior and Triangle postures, linking no more than three postures into each sequence. At this point, you should be well warmed up. You’ll also have mobilized and prepared your pelvic muscles so that you can do a series of backbends effectively.
Choose two to four backbending postures, such as Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Salabhasana (Locust Pose), Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose), or Ustrasana (Camel Pose). Then rebuild heat with some core-strengthening movements and/or Navasana (Boat Pose).
Now, you’re ready to come into the “moon” phase of class with some static hip openers such as Virasana (Hero Pose), Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), or Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose). As you wind down, you can try a series of inversions such as Sirsasana (Headstand), Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), or Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose). To close your practice, relax completely in Savasana (Corpse Pose). For more in-depth information about sequencing, see my book Journey into Power (Simon & Schuster).