There are thousands of forms of yoga today, ranging from hot yoga to dance yoga. In America, yoga has become incredibly popular, yet each place has its own definition of what yoga should be. In Charlotte alone, there are hundreds of yoga studios. Each one emphasizes slightly different methods and outcomes. One of the most popular types of yoga at these studios is power yoga, in which you push your body to new levels and really get a work out. But is that all yoga should be about? There are exercise classes and dance classes for that sort of thing if what you want is a good "workout". If all you want is to feel like you have completed an exercise and burned some calories than power yoga may be for you.
However, it is this author's opinion that yoga should do more than burn calories. Yoga should stop the needless stress of a life that has gotten out of control. Yoga should not only stretch and strengthen the body; it should teach good practices for life outside of class. One notable place in Charlotte seems to follow these ideas and that is Yoga for Life. If you have ever been there you will already know. If you have not been, make your way there and you will learn proper posture and breathing as well as how to re-center your mind. Yoga seems the most helpful when it focusses attention on the body AND the mind. After stretching and balancing for a while you can find a way to let go of negative thoughts. I find it very difficult to focus on my mental health whilst doing other types of yoga such as power yoga and hot yoga. At places like Yoga for Life the instructors leave space for awareness of the mind and do not constantly holler instructions on how to "feel the burn" or "work those glutes". It is a much more reflective environment, with instructions on how to improve a stretch or flow into the next posture using the proper breathing rhythm.
Power yoga (or Cardio Yoga) is very beneficial to the body in developing muscle and strength and helping with weight loss. However, meditative yoga adds an element of awareness of the body and mind which is lost in other forms of yoga. I believe that it is very easy to strain a muscle or practice fast-paced, stressful exercise when it comes to power styles of yoga. How will you de-stress? How will you learn to slow down and appreciate the nuances of your own body's capabilities if you rush through everything, including your yoga practice?
I believe that one of the reasons yoga has become so popular in America has to do with meditation. Our consumer culture is focused on efficiency and money-making and leaves very little time for self-care. Early forms of yoga which are bound closer to their Indian ties had this valuable, meditative aspect. By adding a timed element or fast-paced music to our yoga practices we may have lost some of the value in yoga. So if you take my advice you won't just practice yoga for the workout, you will practice yoga to change your life and maintain a healthy mind and body.