Bulky or wide calves can be the bane of your appearance. Practicing relaxing or restorative yoga poses alone won't help you lose excess weight from your calves or anywhere else on your body for that matter. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit through reduced caloric intake and increased caloric burn. Certain vigorous styles of yoga may provide a beneficial cardio workout and specific yoga poses may help lengthen and stretch your calves, hamstrings and entire leg, giving your calves a thinner, leaner appearance.
The Spot-Reducing Myth
You can't spot-target fat from your calves or anywhere else on your body, regardless of what certain fad exercises or diet plans might claim. Although it's tempting to think that you could use one specific exercise to thin your calves, you'll need to follow a healthy weight loss plan that incorporates good nutrition, reduced caloric intake and cardiovascular and strength training exercises. Weight loss ultimately occurs when you use up more calories than you take in. When you create this caloric deficit, you'll lose weight from your entire body, including your calves.
Feel the Burn
Increasing the amount of cardiovascular exercise you perform on a daily basis can help promote weight loss and is the best way to burn fat, says a Duke University study published in the December 15, 2012 issue of the "Journal of Applied Physiology." While yoga is often considered to be a relaxing mind-body form of exercise, certain types of yoga offer a vigorous cardio workout. The editors of Yoga Journal stress that your yoga practice should elevate your heart rate into your target heart zone to qualify as cardio and it needs to be sufficient in intensity, duration and effort. This means relaxing or restorative yoga doesn't make the cut. Doing vinyasa-style yoga, which incorporates "continuous movement," three days a week can help you obtain the benefits of cardiovascular exercise.
Stretch Your Legs
Stretching your calves with specific yoga poses can help reduce a bulky appearance. In an article for Yoga Journal, certified yoga instructor Julie Gudmestad explains that it's best to stretch your calves after you've completed a cardiovascular workout when your muscles are already warm. She advises performing Standing Forward Bend and moving into Downward-facing Dog to give your calves a deep, beneficial stretch. Other poses for the calves include Supta Padangusthasana, or Reclining Big Toe pose; Utthita Trikonasana, or Extended Triangle pose and Padangusthasana, or Big Toe pose.
Practice the Pose
To practice Gudmestad's recommended vinyasa, begin in Tadasana, or Mountain pose. Stand up with your heels touching and your big toes apart. Extend your spine tall, align your head and neck with your spine and relax your shoulders. Inhale, and as you exhale, bend forward from your hips. Firm your quadriceps to keep your knees straight. Place your hands on the floor and then walk them out about a foot ahead of your toes. Keep your heels pressed into the floor. Breathe deeply and then walk your hands out another foot or so. Continue breathing and press your thighbones back toward the wall behind you. Repeat this process until you feel an intense stretch in your calves. Focus on your breathing and imagine your calves lengthening. You might not yet be able to achieve a full Downward-facing Dog, but this stretch can provide you with a deep lengthening of the calves nonetheless.