Working out with a power yoga dvd is a popular way to exercise at home. You don’t need any fancy gym equipment or memberships. You just need a dvd player and a mat or rug for cushion. Yoga is an excellent way to improve muscle tone, flexibility and posture, and is accessible to everyone, from absolute beginners to advanced practitioners.

Power yoga is the common term for a style of westernized aerobic yoga based off the Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles. The leading teachers of power yoga are Bryan Kest, based in LA, and Beryl Bender Birch, in New York. Both studied under the Ashtanga yoga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Baron Baptiste is another well-known teacher, but his style differs more from Kest and Birch’s.

Ashtanga (or Astanga) in Sanskrit means “eight limbs,” which refers to the ancient Indian text in which Patanjali describes the eight aspects, or limbs, of his sutras. They are:

1. Yama (moral codes)
2. Niyama (self-purification and study)
3. Asana (posture)
4. Pranayama (breath control)
5. Pratyahara (sense control)
6. Dharana (intention)
7. Dhyana (meditation)
8. Samadhi (contemplation)

Vinyasa, also commonly referred to as “flow,” translates as “breath-synchronized movement.” This means the yoga teacher gives instruction on how to breathe as you move your body from one pose to the next.

An example of this is the Surya Namaskara, or the “Sun Salutation,” which is a series of twelve asanas (the physical poses of yoga practice) linked by smooth movement and alternating inhalation and exhalation from one position to the next.

Power yoga became popular in the early 1990s. Working independently but near-simultaneously, both Kest and Birch began teaching this style in order to make yoga more appealing to western students.

Contrary to some of the more traditional teaching methods, power yoga focuses less on meditation and the following of sutras, and more on the physical aspects of fitness, such as strength, flexibility, balance and movement, similar to pilates or dance. This gave yoga new recognition as a compelling alternative workout, as opposed to the stereotyped image of yoga as very slow movement, fixed positions and long meditations.

There are power yoga dvds available from many of the best teachers, including Bryan Kest, Rodney Yee and Baron Baptiste. Even MTV has a power yoga series.

Because power yoga is a mesh and refocusing of classical techniques, each teacher has his/her specific style, so power yoga dvds and classes may differ greatly from one teacher to the next. As a beginner, it may not matter who the teacher is, as your intention is probably just to try it out and get moving. After some practice, however, it may be fun to look at videos by different teachers and get reviews online.

In any case, power yoga is an excellent option in beginning or incorporating something new and effective into your exercise routine.