good morning to all! i just joined so im totally new to this forum. not only that, but im also totally new to muscle building. i do alot of yoga, very intense stuff like arm balances and hand stands and the biggest question i have is if anyone here has any idea if that alone builds muscle or if i need to hit the gym and lift weights (i have just recently started going but im afraid it may negatively affect my yoga practice). im a pretty skinny lady, maybe even underweight and another question i have, if anyone could venture a guess, is if someone who is underweight starts to put on muscle, would their clothes start fitting tighter? ive changed my diet dramatically lately, eating 6 small meals a day, very protein packed and taking supplements as well as drinking whey protein shakes and im finding that my jeans are fitting tighter. this may sound stupid but how do i know if im putting on fat or muscle? pardon my ignorance on the subject, thats why im here. i appreciate all the feedback. blessings!
Yoga is excellent for flexbility and relaxation, absolutely, but it won't help you 'build' muscle per se... Because of some of the positions and stability work, it will certainly increase your core strength, but it's similar to isometric stuff where you won't really see hypertrophy gains. But, there's nothing wrong with weights and yoga! They actually compliment each other pretty well.
I've seriously practiced vinyasa and ashtanga yoga for years and you certainly can build a certain amount of muscle with that kind of yoga practice. Your body provides a pretty reasonable amount resistance in various hand-balances, and, as you progress, a strong yoga practice does increase shoulder and triceps strength especially. That's why you also see pretty decent upper body definition in a lot of advanced yoga practicers. Yoga also really strengthens the hip flexors and back -- women who practice yoga can often deadlift quite well right off the bat!
But, there is a limit to what yoga can do in terms of muscle-building because once you get to the point that you're doing advanced arm balances and full vinyasas, there's just no additional way to increase the resistance. The poses still have other benefits, but are not designed to build muscle beyond what's needed to handle your bodyweight.
It really depends on just how much muscle you're trying to build! I personally wanted to change my body comp and returned to serious lifting, but I still do regular yoga for other benefits. (It's nice not to have to approach yoga as my "workout.")
thank you for your responses!
i think the biggest question i have is whether i should be taking a break from yoga as well so that my muscles could grow. ive started a weight lifting routine 3 times a week (mon wed and fri) and do yoga everyday but i do very advanced stuff, including handstands and advanced arm balances. i still need to work pretty hard during those asanas so i dont think ive reached my highest muscle limit with yoga. should i be doing yoga every other day, on days that i lift or dont lift or is it ok to keep doing it everyday?
For me personally, I couldn't make good gains from lifting while also doing a regular, daily vinyasa practice. So I cut way back on vinyasa. Now, I usually do handstands, forearm stands and headstands in the morning when I wake up but that doesn't seem to have much effect on strength at this point. I've also learned to use less muscular strength in my yoga practice and be more relaxed in my body, instead of focusing on strength there. (The good news is that now that I'm much stronger and fitter, I can still do a strong vinyasa practice without doing it all the time.)
How long is your regular yoga practice? Are you doing vinyasa or long-hold Iyengar style? The main thing to look out for is recovery -- especially with shoulders and chest (sometimes hips) which can get a workout from lots of arm balances. If you're already sore or tired from your yoga practice when you're lifting upper body, you might not be making gains.
Of course, Everyone is different in this regard. Women who compete in Fitness, do lift along with regular gymnastics practice, so it can be done, but you have to find just the right balance. I think it's mostly a lot of trial and error and listening to your body -- but if you're already practicing yoga, you have a big advantage in terms of being tune with the body!