Benefits of Yoga: how it can support your strength training

At Milo and the Bull, we love to challenge our members and help them become stronger, fitter and the best version of themselves. For many people, this means their go-to class is one of our tough circuit sessions or our signature Coar class, which offer strength, conditioning, and high intensity interval training to help build up your stamina and resilience. And although we love to challenge ourselves and our members in our strength and cardio classes, we are committed to helping you develop an honest and holistic approach to health and fitness, which means incorporating yoga into your weekly routine.

To learn more about the benefits of yoga alongside strength training, we spoke with Richard Timu, founder of SW Power Yoga. Richard came to yoga after a stroke at the tender age of 34, leaving him with the side effects of Aphasia – a language disorder that causes difficulties with reading, writing, speaking and unable to understand speech. Following his stroke, yoga helped him calm his mind and recover lost communication skills. Richard left the grind of the city as a banker, and qualified as a yoga teacher.

Milo: Thanks for joining us Richard! First off, what would you say are some of the key benefits of incorporating yoga into someone's day-to-day lifestyle?
Richard: The main benefits of yoga are to make you happier, increase your energy, reduce stress and weight loss.

Milo: We’re passionate about helping our members become stronger and fitter. Can yoga support someone looking to gain muscle and strength? 
Richard: Absolutely. Yoga uses both isometric and eccentric contractions to simultaneously strengthen a muscle as it stretches. It relies on your own body as the "weight" and targets smaller stabilising muscles that are often overlooked in traditional weight training.

It can also be used as a recovery tool to support your strength training. Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of modern yoga with postures that are held for longer periods of time that help with your recovery. Once you go through the healing process, you will be mentally and emotionally more powerful.

Milo: You’ve mentioned Yin Yoga. What other styles of yoga would you suggest people incorporate into their fitness routine to improve their strength?
Richard: Yoga is like a meal but you need the correct recipe. That’s why yoga has various styles from deep stretching (like Yin and Hot Vinyasa) to handstands, headstands, and meditation. If you train for long distance running, then Hatha is helpful for deep stretching hamstrings, calves and hips. If you prefer Crossfit or heavy weights, then Vinyasa or Broga releases tightness of the upper and lower body in a safe way. That is why yoga can be specialised to exactly what you need.

Milo: What would be your advice to someone trying yoga for the first time? 
Richard: Before class, tell the teacher you’re new. They’ll give you the basics to be injury free, and then it’s up to you to make the judgement of whether the stronger poses are ok for you.  Also, yoga is no magic pill. You have to practise and be consistent.

Milo: And how often would you suggest people add yoga into their routine?
Richard: I would suggest one to two classes per week to help improve your flexibility, mobility, strengthening, and most importantly, your wellbeing.

Milo: Before we sign off, any final words of wisdom?
Richard: I’d like to end with a Maori proverb - "Hurihia to aroaro ki te ra tukuna to atarangi kia taka ki muri i a koe" – which means "turn your face toward the sun and the shadows fall behind you".

Adding in just a couple of yoga classes alongside your strength and conditioning routine can benefit not only your physical strength, but also your mental wellbeing. Interested in signing up to a yoga class? Check out our six different types of yoga classes – move, power, rocket, restore, yogasthenics and pregnancy – and book in for a class now! 

You can find Richard teaching classes at Milo and the Bull every Thursday at 07:00 AM and you can follow him on Instagram @yoga_maestro. to stay up-to-date with his full time timetable.

Milo and the Bull