Stretching the Definition of Men’s Fitness

yogi master

Muscles and meditation at yoga studios where practitioners reduce stress, increase flexibility, enhance strength, improve posture and prevent injury

The definition of a “strong man” has changed significantly since the Gold’s Gym era. During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s time, a man was only considered strong if he pumped at least twice his weight in iron and flaunted rippling, sun-kissed muscles. 

Today, society has adopted broader definitions of both strong and fit. Men still frequent the gym to surpass their PR on the squat rack or bench, but they are also complementing traditional strength training regimes with more meditative and hyper-focused exercises like yoga and Pilates.

According to the Yoga Journal, men comprise less than one quarter of the yoga community, but their participation is on the rise. With mental health at the forefront, a greater number of men are recognizing and leaning into the physical and emotional benefits of this restorative practice. “Yoga overall is a holistic, full body exercise that challenges the mind, body and nervous system to stay sharp and provides an opportunity for men to find a more connected balance of harmony in day-to-day life,” says Trevor Farias, yoga instructor at Torch Yoga Studio, which has locations in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

We tapped into Farias’ 10 years of expertise to better understand the overall benefits of the practice and how it enhances men’s wellbeing. 

Coastal Virginia Magazine: What inspired your yoga journey?

Trevor Farias: I found yoga as a part of physical therapy after being hit by a car while riding my bicycle. I was unable to bend forward and reach my hands past my knees, nor could I stand on one foot or sit without a dome in my back. Yoga not only helped me open my flexibility and get stronger, but also helped me [find answers to] the spiritual and religious questions I had growing up.

How does yoga support men’s mental and emotional discipline?

Men created the physical practice of postures, or asanas, as a way to exhaust the body so that stillness and silence become easier to access during meditation. The hyperfocus on breath through the postures naturally cleanses the mind, aiding in stress reduction, enhanced cognitive function and improved focus both on and off the mat. The self-awareness that accompanies a yoga practice helps regulate emotions and manage stress.

What are the physical benefits for male yogis?

Yoga can be used as a workout on its own or added in as an active recovery for athletes with a more intense regimen. It helps men increase flexibility, enhance strength, find a better posture and prevent injury. 

Are all yoga classes created equal?

Not all classes are created equal. There are classes that are incredibly restorative [that use props] to assist in longer holds of postures and deeper stretches. There are also classes that focus on heart rate and speed, [challenging people] to quickly move from one posture to the next. Some classes even add heat and humidity to the mix and challenge most men’s concepts of what they think is “hard.”

Speaking of hard, what is the most challenging part of achieving a yoga mindset?

As men, I think our ego gets in the way first and tells us we should be able to do something just because it seems easy. Once we try to do something “easy” and it isn’t in fact that simple, we tell ourselves it’s dumb or doesn’t work. Understanding that it’s called a practice for a reason helped me to relax more and enjoy the progress as it came. 

What is one piece of advice you can give to men considering yoga?

I would encourage men to explore a handful of different class options until they find a style or teacher they vibe with. Some classes focus on the spiritual aspect while others focus more on the physical benefits, so finding the right fit is key.

Pilates or Yoga, What’s the Difference?

Both practices are structured around the pillars of strength, endurance and flexibility. Yoga, unlike Pilates, emphasizes an additional pillar that focuses on the importance of spiritual connectedness. While Pilates quite literally engages the “core,” or torso, as its foundation for movement and breathing, yoga wields the body in such a way to move more freely into a meditative state.

Seven Cities Yoga Studios

Hey guys, want to try yoga? Check out one of these locally owned studios.

Southside Oceanfront Yoga, Virginia Beach

Zen Hot Yoga, Virginia Beach

Collective Yoga, Virginia Beach

Torch Yoga Studio,Norfolk & Virginia Beach

Sky’s the Limit Yoga Co., Norfolk

Hot House Yoga, Norfolk & Virginia Beach

GUD Yoga, Norfolk

Ocean View Yoga, Norfolk

Chesapeake Hot Yoga, Chesapeake


Yorktown Yoga and Wellness, Yorktown

Zenya Yoga & Massa, Portsmouth & Newport News

Hot or Not Yoga & Massage Studio, Suffolk & Newport News

Body Balance Yoga & Fitness, Williamsburg

Full Circle Yoga + Pilates, Williamsburg

Latitude Climbing + Fitness, Hampton

Yaz Yoga, Hampton

Grace Silipigni Headshot
Grace Silipigni

Grace Silipigni is an elementary school Spanish immersion teacher based in Virginia Beach and a regular contributor to Coastal Virginia Magazine, covering a wide range of topics such as health and wellness, education and learning, food and drink, happenings and events, travel and getaways and more.

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