Shama Egbe, PhD
Compliance Coordinator
Upstream Business Support Department

Up until a year ago, my exact response to someone mentioning yoga to me, as you may guess – “please, it’s too slow for me!” I am now finding out that my response is the norm when it comes to perceptions about yoga. Like many others, I had heard so much about the benefits of yoga, but it had never really sunk in. Like many things in life, you never really understand them until you experience them yourself. 

My need for fitness began after piling on a few kilos beyond my BMI, and the puffs and pants I was experiencing while climbing up the stairs. Like most of us, I was confident about getting my dose of daily exercise by getting back on a regimen of high intensity cardio and fast-paced routines, as I have managed to do so in my younger days. 

However, the reality was far from that. The journey to the gym seemed like a thousand miles, even though it was just around the corner. The consistency with exercise was becoming impossible to sustain throughout the busy schedule of life, combatting with the highs and lulls and I found myself worrying about a point of no return!

With no solutions left in my pocket, a friend then suggested yoga to me, so I hesitantly gave it a shot with the attitude of “it is better than nothing.” Now one year later, I am the strongest propagator of yoga, and as cliché as it may sound, it has “changed my life.”

The balancing act

I had always heard about the benefits of yoga as improving “the mind-body connection.” I knew we need to be mobile, flexible and fit, but did wonder why I needed to “connect.” 

With every asana meaning pose I learned, I began to understand that the simple balancing acts of yoga help promote mental stability as they shift our focus from the chaos of our outside world, and bring our attention to ourselves. All we can control is our own being, and yoga helps quiet the mind, which is key to reducing anxiety and stress – that are constant side effects of today’s lifestyle. 

Who would have thought that standing tall like a tree on one leg called Vrksasana, engages our core and straightens our legs, and helps relieve sciatica and rheumatism? As for Garudasana, called the eagle pose, it involves crossing the legs over one another and using the power of the hands in sync, engaging the shoulder and upper back. One of my favorites is the dancer pose, Natarajasana, stretches the hamstrings, hips and chest, as well as strengthens the ankles and calf muscles. 

A must-do in power yoga is the famous sun salutation, Surya Namaskar, which can be considered a one-stop shop consisting of a sequence of 12 yoga poses performed in a flowing sequence, coordinated with deep breathing – which help strengthen the heart, muscles and joints. It is one of the calorie-burning exercises that promote weight loss, improve digestion, and boost energy levels, increasing alertness and stamina. 

Simply paying attention to how your body feels in each pose and trying to let go of any thoughts or momentary worries channels a great sense of strength and focus on the present moment.

What is Power Yoga?

If yoga is useful, then what is Power Yoga about?

This is where I actually got sold. Power Yoga takes the calm elements of traditional yoga – balancing, breathing and meditation, and combines them with fast-paced and vigorous physical postures. If one wants a full body workout that offers a perfect blend of the much sought-after cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises into one dynamic routine, Power Yoga is the answer. 

Due to its well-balanced pace of exercise, with every session I could feel that I am recharging and regenerating my body instead of wearing it down. No wonder Power Yoga is super beneficial at improving cardiovascular health, building muscle strength and endurance, and increasing range of motion.

Great for all ages

The pace that Power Yoga provides makes it suitable for all ages. With an increased level of control, there is a positive impact on concentration levels. This may be beneficial to even children as the increased focus can contribute to enhanced cognitive functioning, which is fundamental to learning. 

Generally, the older adults take a back seat with any rigorous exercise for fear of risking injury, but the reverse is true. With the stretching and strengthening that yoga offers, there can actually be an improvement in flexibility and lessening of any discomfort from those hindering aches and pains. Here’s what my 60-year-old mum has to say – “Slowly and steadily yoga took away all my pains. Yoga gave me a sound mind and a sound body – two birds with one shot!” 

Also, while we all exercise to lose weight and look good, it is becoming more important to take care of our mental health. I would rather focus my children more on how to develop greater self-awareness, self-acceptance, and resilience, than worry about how they look.

Helps you get your beauty sleep

Another one of the most important contributing factors from yoga is sleep! Have you ever wondered why we don’t sleep enough? In the world of social media and constant feeds, where is the time to switch off?

Just by taking that one hour of your day to calm the mind and body, it is amazing to see how easy it gets to fall asleep, and more importantly, stay asleep. The deep breathing exercises and physical exertion helps improve circulation and oxygen delivery to the brain, and at the same time, stay energized and focused throughout the day. In today’s busy lives, no one is immune to stress and anxiety, and I had succumbed to the idea that there was no way to resolve it. However, as I consistently did yoga, I found myself surprisingly more in control of my moods, temper, and just felt “happier.”

Super beneficial for women’s health

I am compelled to mention the extra benefits of Power Yoga for women. With simple poses like the Chakrasana, which is the wheel pose, we can stimulate the endocrine glands, and help improve hormonal balance to reduce the symptoms of menstrual cramps and menopause. Furthermore, it also increases bone density in the spine and hips, which can help prevent osteoporosis and the risk of age-related injuries. A must add – the wheel pose is also said to help open up the heart and promote feelings of love, compassion, and forgiveness!

Don’t wait too long to jump on the yoga wagon

The simplest way I can describe what Power Yoga does is that it helps in finding our “chi,” which is said to be the vital energy held to animate the body internally. By incorporating Power Yoga into our daily lives, we have a shot at establishing a sense of balance and control in our lives, so don’t delay taking a shot at it. 

If you are new to Power Yoga, it is very important to find a qualified yoga instructor who can help you learn the poses safely and correctly.

My saving warrior has been my online yoga instructor, Meenakshi Kukreti (Instagram @fierce_fitlife), who works personally with you according to your needs, ailments as well as fits around whatever time zone you are in. So I don’t miss out on my dose of yoga even during holidays! You can see her level of agility and passion for yoga in this beautiful, inspiring pose.