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John Ogilvie – The Purna Yoga Power Sequence

I have never heard the term Purna Yoga before. I only came to John’s Purna Yoga Power Sequence because I had recently met John, and he was entirely friendly and welcoming to me. And, I have practiced Power Yoga before, so I figured I would give it a shot.

John started speaking a few minutes early, to ensure he made the most of his allotted 90 minutes. He explained that Purna Yoga is Iyengar inspired, and alignment based. It represents a holistic approach to yoga integrating not just the physical postures but also philosophy, meditation, pranayama breath control, and the yogic personal and social code of ethics.

There are three sequences in Purna Yoga, ranging from a more restorative sequence, to a more dynamic one. The Power sequence is the Level 3 sequence, and the most challenging. He described the three levels and three options that he would be teaching in the class, offering people of all levels access to his Power Yoga sequence. Uniquely, he suggested that many people in the class would view the Level 3 variations to be “ridiculous” and judging by the reactions from many in the class, it seems he gaged the audience correctly.

In the Purna Yoga Power Sequence, and after adequately disclosing the various options, John discussed a few of the Yamas and Niyamas, including Ahimsa, referred to generally as nonviolence, Aparigraha, non-stealing or non-coveting, and Santosha, or contentment. In this sequence he warned people to be content with where they are in their practice, to be non-violent to their own bodies in the practice, and to not covet others’ practices in a jealous way.

In some ways, John’s sequence made Power Yoga more accessible, by slowing down some of the asanas, and offering numerous modifications and variations, using humor as a mechanism to make people feel better about where they are in their practice, to encourage them to be content.

At one point, John asked how many people in the class had a full blown handstand practice, where they could stay in a handstand in the center of the room for at least 5 minutes. Not many yogis have such a practice. John wanted to make handstands accessible to everyone, so he placed us into a position where we squatted down and placed our hands under our feet, so that we were literally standing on our hands. In the end, everyone in the room was in a “handstand.” Giggleasana ensued.

Overall, the speed of the practice was slower than I expect from a Power Yoga sequence, but John gave an appropriate foreshadowing of his Inversions and Backbends workshop on Friday. In his Power Yoga sequence, he offered up some complicated inversions and arm balances, which left many in the class gasping in disbelief.

As a result, there seemed to be a good amount of Watchasana in class, but my fellow yogis seemed to enjoy it, amazed at the postures that are possible, or as John says, could be deemed “ridiculous” in many eyes.

Written by : Amber Hoffman

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