Popular worldwide, Baptiste Yoga is a vigorous form of power yoga. Though the correct name for the practice is Baptiste Yoga, the style is sometimes referred to as power Vinyasa, instead. Typically, Baptiste sessions take part in a studio that is heated to around 90 degrees. The heat cleanses and detoxes the body by inducing a sweat. Throughout the session, toxins and impurities are released through practitioners sweat glands. The heated studio boasts an array of other benefits, too; for instance, by relaxing the muscles, the heat allows the body to stretch further without injury. Unlike other forms of hot yoga, Baptiste is a dynamic style. Students are encouraged to move quickly between poses to create a challenging and physical practice. As well as challenging the physical body, the combination of vigorous movement and a heated room provides a mental challenge, too. If you manage to complete the class, despite the discomfort of the heated room, the health benefits are endless. The fast-paced nature of Baptiste also emphasises the importance of breathing. For best results, each asana should be guided by a chosen breathing exercise. Inhales should invite new energy into the body, whilst each exhale should release stale energy. In this article, we explore Baptiste Yoga in more detail. If you are interested in trying out the practice, it’s worth picking up some good-quality yoga pants. Breathable clothing will allow your body to oxygenate sufficiently.
There are 5 important aspects of the Baptiste style. These are summarised into the ‘Five Pillars’. Below, we explore these pillars in more detail.
Breath is one of the most important aspects of Baptiste Yoga. While the practice incorporates various different pranayamas, most classes focus on a breathing exercise called ‘Ujjayi’.
Ujjayi breathing helps to remind students that proper breathing is more important than the shape of the pose. It can be beneficial to practice this breathing technique after a sequence of strenuous poses to help lower the heart rate; with this in mind, Ujjayi breathing is particularly helpful in Baptiste Yoga classes. Like any mindful breathing, Ujjayi can be used to increase the awareness of our breath. Additionally, practising Ujjayi breathing can teach us to use our full lung capacity. Doing this, rather than shallow breathing, will allow a better flow of oxygen to the brain.
As mentioned previously, Baptiste classes take place in a room heated to around 90 degrees. The heat boasts various benefits. For instance, it cleanses and detoxes the body by inducing a sweat. Additionally, the heated room can help students to get the most from each asana by helping the muscles to stretch further without injury. It is also beneficial for those hoping to lose weight; the heated room makes practitioners work that much harder, meaning that an average of 650 calories is burnt per session.
Flowing naturally from one asana to the next is an important aspect of the Baptiste style. Fluid movement is closely associated with breathing, so practising the correct pranayama should help you move from one posture to the next. While Baptiste Yoga doesn’t have a set series of asanas, most classes tend to follow the same pattern. Typically, a Baptiste class will begin with Surya Namaskara and end with a standing posture. Abdominal postures, backbends, and hip openers are usually practised somewhere in-between.
Gaze, or Drishti as it’s referred to in Sanskrit, is another vital aspect of the style. In Baptiste classes, students are encouraged to gaze at a particular place whilst practising. This is thought to encourage correct spinal alignment throughout the pose. Unlike certain Ashtanga styles, Baptiste Yoga doesn’t require students to look at a specific place for each asana. Instead, practitioners are encouraged to focus their attention on any point that doesn’t move. Additionally, they are instructed to keep their gaze soft in order to focus on their inner self, rather than what is going on around them.
The last pillar of the Baptiste style is core stabilisation. In Sanskrit, this term is referred to as ‘Uddiyana Bandha’. To practice Baptiste using core stabilisation, students must draw their belly button back towards their spine; for best results, this process must be practised continuously throughout the session. By engaging the core, Uddiyana Bandha is designed to provide balance and strength.
Like every form of yoga, the Baptiste style boasts a range of great benefits. Below, we explore some of the most important ones in more detail.
Through a range of dynamic movements, Baptiste Yoga increases blood flow through the body. The increased blood flow supplies the cells with fresh oxygen, allowing them to function to the best of their ability. Twisted poses are thought to be especially helpful for getting your blood flowing. When the body is performing the twist, a build-up of blood is caused within the body; as the twist is released, the blood is flushed through your system supplying your organs with fresh, oxygenated blood.
When practised regularly, Baptiste Yoga can improve your focus. Though practising this fast-paced style in a heated room is beneficial, it isn’t necessarily easy. Complete concentration is required to ensure that your breathing pattern works with your movement. Students can apply this high level of focus to their day-to-day lives, too. Practising just once a week can help you to become less distracted by your thoughts.
As touched upon before, the heated studio allows students to stretch further without injury. In turn, this improves flexibility. If the style is practised regularly, your muscles will become less tight both in and out of the studio. When muscles are tight, a high level of strain is placed on the joints. If left untreated, this tightness can lead to pain and discomfort. By improving flexibility, Baptiste helps the muscles to remain supple, healthy, and pain-free.
The sweat induced during a Baptiste class is great for cleansing and detoxing the body. In turn, this process can improve your immune system. Research has shown that those who practice Baptiste Yoga are less likely to suffer from ill-health than those who don’t.
Whether you’re hoping to improve your physical health, or you’re more interested in getting your summer body ready, practice Baptiste Yoga regularly to reap the benefits. Before attending your first class, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the correct gear. Turning up with a fresh bottle of water and a breathable yoga top will allow you to make the most out of the session!