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Power yoga - even wimps can do it!

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Yoga: Get power!

Ever considered trying power yoga -- a more intense variation of typical yoga -- but felt you couldn't because you didn't have the stamina... or you couldn't hold the postures... or you didn't want to look silly among a bunch of regular power yoga practitioners whose lithe bodies seemed oh-so-perfect?

Power yoga busts stress and gets you fit

Yoga: Get power!Veteran yogi Mark Blanchard says it's a needless fear that is easily banished once you experience power yoga's ability to help you reduce stress. 

One of many benefits inherent with power yoga (ashtanga), a fiery style of yoga that links together a series of postures (asanas) into a powerful flowing workout routine that not only soothes your mind and spirit, but also whips your body into shape.

Blanchard is the founder of Progressive Power Yoga and owner of a popular studio in Studio City, California. He's been practicing power yoga, which emphasizes strength and flexibility, for 28 years, and teaching it in his studio for over ten.

Power yoga is for everyone

Though he lists among his students some of Hollywood's hottest stars, Blanchard says you don't have to be a celebrity to benefit from this exercise. "Anyone regardless of age, size, or physical capability can practice power yoga," he says. "Power yoga sessions should never be categorized by levels of experience or difficulty that might seem threatening." According to Blanchard, power yoga should be challenging for you -- but not to the point where you become stressed over whether or not you are doing too much or not enough.

If you're having difficulty maintaining a slow and deep rate of breathing through your nose and mouth, slow down. It takes time and dedication. It takes patience. "I always refer to it as yoga practice, not yoga perfect," adds Blanchard.

Do yoga for yourself

"Don't worry if you can't stretch as far, push as hard, or hold a posture (asana) as long as the person next to you. Don't measure your progress by theirs," he says. "Simply work at your own pace and do the best that you can do."

For example, when performing a standing forward bend, if you cannot bend over far enough to place your hands palm-down and flat on the ground, bend over as far as you can and grab your shins.

"Remember to breathe," reminds Blanchard. "And as you continue to breathe deeply, your body will respond. You'll possibly bend further the next time you repeat the posture."

One final reminder: Always check with your physician before you begin practicing power yoga or any other type of physical exercise.

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