Bikram yoga builds strength through its series of 26 postures repeated twice during a workout. Holding the poses builds static strength because your muscles have to contract to stabilize and maintain the different positions. If you're looking to change up your strength-training routine, get into a Bikram studio for some hot-yoga fun.
Balancing Stick Pose
Balancing Stick pose is also referred to as Warrior III and develops strength in the legs, back, shoulders and core. Start this exercise by standing upright with abdominals contracted. Slowly lean forward as you extend your arms in front of you and kick your left leg out behind you. Maintain a steady stance on the right leg as your upper and lower body form a straight line parallel to the floor. Hold this pose for 20 seconds or longer before returning to your starting point to rest and repeat on the opposite leg.
Tree pose is a standing balance pose that builds strength in the lower extremities as well as tightens the core region. Do this pose by standing tall on your left leg as you raise your right foot up to touch the sole of your foot to your left leg's inner calf muscle. If you are very flexible, reach your right foot up to touch your left leg's inner thigh. Hold steady in this position while placing your hands in prayer position in front of your chest or spreading them up toward the sky like the branches of a tree. The standing leg becomes stronger in this pose since it must take the weight of the body. Hold this pose for 20 seconds before lowering to repeat on the opposite leg.
Cobra pose is a back-strengthening exercise. Perform this pose by lying face-down on a mat with your legs extended flat and toes pointed away. Place your hands by your sides underneath your shoulders with elbows tucked in. Slowly start to contract the back muscles as you raise your head and upper chest off the mat. Avoid straining your neck or back during this movement and listen to how your spine feels with each backward bend. Hold this pose for five to 10 seconds before lowering to start position to repeat.
Awkward pose looks just as it sounds -- awkward. It involves crouching down low in a squat position with knees bent, back straight and arms extended in front of you parallel to the floor. You must then slowly raise up on your toes while maintaining a tight abdominal region, straight back and arms positioned in front. Although it may sound tricky, this pose is a great strengthening exercise for the legs, particularly the quads and glutes, which help support you in the squatting stance. Aim to hold the toe-raising squat for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat twice.
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.