Interview with Power Yoga Innovator Baron Baptiste

Baron Baptiste.

Baron Baptiste, whose parents opened San Francisco's first yoga studio in 1955, is one of the best-known yoga teachers in the United States. From the tender age of 12, Baptiste has studied classical yoga traditions, as well as the more physical Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram styles. He now teaches his own style of yoga, Baptiste Power Vinyasa, from his Baptiste Power Yoga Institutes, with the goal of demystifying yoga and making it accessible to everyone.

Baptiste became famous for teaching yoga to Hollywood stars and bringing a yoga regime to the training of NFL players as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff. He has been a key personality in yoga's current popularity.

Baptiste has also spread his message with videos for home practice and as the author of Journey Into Power - How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga, and 40 Days To Personal Revolution, published by Simon & Schuster, as well as My Daddy Is A Pretzel, Yoga for Kids and Parents, published by Barefoot Books in 2004.

In 2005, I had the opportunity to ask Baron Baptiste a few questions about his yoga method.

How did your method (Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga) develop?

My style of yoga practice developed over many years of trial and error, and in finding what worked for myself, and for the everyday folks who would walk through my classroom doors. My focus has always been on "what works" and throwing out what doesn't. I always look for the practical value in things so that people are not wasting their time, but rather making concrete and tangible leaps in creating the results they want and need. It's true that many Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes would attend my classes, but in reality, they are just like all the rest of us in that we all have our own unique set of physical and emotional issues, needs, and desires.

What sets Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga apart from other yoga styles?

Baptiste style of practice is unique in that it gives great emphasis to the principle of adaptation. Meaning that each practitioner can adapt, modify, and make each posture, and each part of the practice their own. The whole emphasis, and practice, of Baptiste style of yoga, is to challenge you to experience a transformation, but starting from where YOU are presently, and steadily building to a place that allows you to authentically experience the yogic rewards of being stronger, more supple, relaxed, and generally less tense. A good yoga practice will give you the overall sense of being strong and stress-free, but again the beauty of Baptiste style is that you work at your own level of ability, fitness level, and simply do what you can, and from there the sky is the limit. This is a primary principle of what sets Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga apart from others.

What advice do you have for people who want to make yoga part of a weight-loss regimen?

Commitment and focus are the primary keys. If you want physical transformation it is completely possible, but we must move from a "knowing what to do" mindset into a "doing" mindset. Find a yoga class in your area that you resonate with, and attend 3-4 times per week. Also, as we all "know" a clean, low-processed food, and low-sugar diet is key for weight-loss, but again "knowing" is not enough - it's all about action and commitment. To help keep your stress-hormone levels low (they can impact your ability to lose weight) maybe try meditation as well. A Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga practice, a clean diet, and a relaxed mind are all key components for a weight-loss regimen, and of course, you can add onto this regimen other physical activities that you enjoy to do - to maximize the results.

What would you advise people with limited access to classes to do?

Even if you don't have access to classes, yoga can still be practiced in your own home. The first step is to create a relaxing yoga space where you can stretch out comfortably without interruptions. You might also try playing soothing music or incorporating scent to enhance your yoga workout. 

How can one introduce yoga to one's children? At what age?

Yoga is a great way for busy families to spend relaxing time together. Since yoga can be done almost anywhere with minimal equipment, it's easy to introduce it to your children, and it can be wonderful family time that is healthy for the whole family. Also, it is great to start children in yoga when they are young as it gives them a great foundation for health into their future. My book My Daddy Is A Pretzel is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step yoga practice for children and parents.

To find a Baptiste Affiliate studio, Certified Teacher, or Associate Teacher visit, where you can also find meditation tools and products as well as Baron Baptiste's books and videos.