Bikram yoga is a great way to sculpt and tighten your body, as this practice tones without adding bulk, leading to a firmer, shapelier you. As awesome as yoga may be, don't forget about cardio. In addition to your muscle-strengthening routine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least two-and-a-half hours of weekly aerobic activity such as biking or walking quickly. More is even better. (See Reference 1) Also, a reduced-calories diet plays a key role if you want to lose fat, uncovering that gorgeous new muscle tone.
About Bikram Yoga
Bikram yoga was developed from Hatha yoga and is taught in studios heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity. The humidity may be altered to match the heat, and vice versa. Classes all last 90 minutes and consist of 26 poses, each performed twice. The theory behind these steamy conditions? Practitioners believe the body is easier to transform when muscles and other parts are warm and that sweating rids the body of impurities. (See Reference 2)
Yoga and Muscles
Bikram yoga works every major muscle group in your body. By the end of your practice, you will know this firsthand, as your muscles will feel tired from contracting for extended poses. (See Reference 4) However, all that work will seem worth it once you witness your muscles toning up more with each session.
Muscle definition is not the only perk that comes with Bikram yoga. Expect greater flexibility that can help your performance in sports and everyday activities. Bikram also improves balance, reducing the likelihood of falling or other accidents. Yoga also works as a stress reducer, lessening symptoms of anxiety and depression. You may also be pleased by your new posture; the combination of added strength with flexibility can straighten up your stance. Even though Bikram yoga is not aerobic, you might also enjoy enhanced lung function from the breathing exercises. (See Reference 3)
Before you rush off to the Bikram studio, make sure you are aware of the potential risks. This activity is not for you if you have trouble staying hydrated or have a history of heatstroke. If you are pregnant, you need to hold off until after delivery. Bring a large water bottle to class and sip often to avoid dehydration. If you begin to feel woozy or nauseated, cease your activity and leave the room. (See Reference 4) If you are near the point of passing out, lay down on your yoga mat at once.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.