If you are looking to trim those saddlebags and sculpt your calves, look no further than a session of Bikram yoga. While yoga typically soothes the nerves and clears your mind, the heat and challenging poses executed in a Bikram yoga session are great for toning muscle. Bikram yoga consists of 26 poses, which include two breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity. Be prepared to sweat it out and firm up the flab.
In order to tone your legs, you need to make sure your leg muscles are stretched and warmed up. A Bikram yoga class follows a specific order of poses which are designed to work your muscles in an optimum fashion. The Standing Separate Leg Stretching pose works the thighs and calves, while the Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee pose gives a good stretch to your quads and calves. The Half Moon pose focuses on balance and gently stretching your hamstrings. The Triangle pose is designed to stretch both leg muscles equally and is considered to be one of the most important postures performed in a Bikram session.
Build Leg Strength
Multiple poses performed during a Bikram session focus on strengthening your leg muscles. The Awkward pose is one of Bikram’s most challenging postures, requiring you to stand on your toes with bent knees and arms outstretched. The Standing Head to Knee pose, Standing Bow pose and the Balancing Stick pose not only improve your balance, but also provide a real workout for your hamstrings and other thigh muscles.
Toning the Muscles
Through the stretches and strengthening poses, your leg muscles will become well conditioned. To reinforce this, Bikram incorporates many poses designed to tone your leg muscles. The Tree pose and the Eagle pose are beneficial for sculpting leg muscles. The Tree pose increases your leg’s flexibility, especially around the knee joints. The Eagle pose is easier than it looks, requiring you to wrap your legs around each other while standing. Execute this posture properly and your hips and calves will thank you.
Don’t Go Overboard
The steamy environment of a Bikram yoga session will allow you to perform deeper stretches and take your body to new limits, but be aware of injury risks. While yoga is often recommended as a form of physical rehabilitation, yoga practiced in the wrong way can actually cause new injuries. Avoid certain poses if you are experiencing leg pain, such as stretches if you suspect you have injured your hamstring muscles. Be mindful of your body and pace yourself accordingly.
Joy Johnston has been an online journalist since 2005. She has served as senior producer for the health news website Sharecare and as a digital producer for the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," where she helped develop the health channel. Johnston has also covered ways to stay fit in Atlanta.