Naked yoga is a hot new trend, at least among trendy folks in trendy parts of the US. At least that’s the word on the street.
In my never-ending quest to be part of the trendy crowd, I decided to go straight from No-Yoga and jump right into Naked Yoga.
Sure, I could have at least tried out a couple of the more traditional classes where your fellow peeps have their naughty bits covered; but fuck the middle man, I decided to go balls out.
You may have many questions, such as:
Why would anyone choose to do Naked Yoga?
Is “Naked Yoga” just code for an ORGY?
When do you strip down?
Do the Gospel Pipes and Winnebagos just flop around everywhere?
Should you make an anal bleaching appointment before your first class?
Fear not, for I had these questions and more, and attended several Naked Yoga classes from two different studios to find out.
Before we take our proverbial clothes off and get busy, perhaps a few side notes are in order:
Side Note # 1: There is nothing new about Nude Yoga.
As a matter of fact, Yogis have been giving the Gods the Brown Eye in Downward Facing Dog Pose since the ancient times. This was an element of practice in Nagna Yoga.
Sure, the more puritanical countries have influenced their peeps to cover their junk, but that’s not necessarily keeping true to the spirit of Yoga.
Side Note # 2: The Postures are NOT Yoga
It may come as a surprise to some Hairy Toe Tribe members, but I as I mentioned above, I personally hadn’t done any Yoga prior to my forray into Naked Yoga.
Actually, I’ve been doing Yoga now for almost two decades, just not the physical postures (asanas). So, you might be thinking “WTF does that mean?”.
Despite what many people throughout the US and Europe may think, Yoga is NOT just twisting yourself into a pretzel or doing headstands. As a matter of fact, the asanas are actually a very SMALL percentage of what constitutes the Eight Limb System of Yoga. Technically speaking, I suppose it’s 1/8th.
The first two limbs are purification and renunciation. It should be self-evident why most people would choose to skip these initial steps, and leap frog to the physical asanas (the third limb).
And limbs 4-8 basically deal with more advanced meditation techniques. The truth is that the most important benefit to be derived from the asanas is to be better able to sit in meditation for prolonged periods.
But wait, what about getting toned and ripped, and showing off all your expensive yoga gear?
More on that later…
But I digress….
Benefits of Naked Yoga vs. Clothed Yoga
From the research I’ve done, there haven’t been any funded scientific studies on the benefits of Naked Yoga in particular. One could reasonably conclude that the numerous health and emotional benefits that have been studied for Yoga in general, would also apply when doing it wearing only a smile.
The real question is, does Naked Yoga have additional benefits compared to Clothed Yoga?
After speaking with the instructors and several seasoned students, it became apparent that a big draw for many people is to gain a greater appreciation and love for their bodies.
Negative body image disorders seem to be rampant throughout the US. Some studies report that up to 8 out of 10 women are unhappy with their bodies, and as many as half of them have a “distorted” view of how they actually look. Although men seem to fare better in their self evaluations, the percentage of men who are unhappy about their bodies is also on the rise.
You might think that for someone with negative body image issues, stripping down in a room full of strangers might just be the most horrifying idea, ever.
Many students admitted that indeed horror was their first instinctive thought when they heard about it. However, like so many things in life, the idea of something can vary greatly from the actual experience of it.
What people consistently reported was that, after the initial disrobing and the subsequent (although short lived) panic, they were shocked to find a peaceful ease to the whole scene.
This was explained by one woman as being able to see real human bodies, as opposed to the fake airbrushed images that bombard us all the time through media. And that beneath our clothes, we are all naked. This can create a sense of connectedness and compassion for others, and perhaps even oneself.
There’s no shortage of Yoga poses that, when done in the buff, leave you feeling EXPOSED. And I image this is a good thing; because when you can perform The Happy Baby Pose in a roomful of people, and not give a fuck… then you own your body.
The Freedom of Naked Yoga
Apart from any body image issues, Naked Yoga seems to offer an overall sense of freedom.
As I mentioned, I started with Naked Yoga, but then I attended several clothed Yoga classes, so I could experience the differences, if any. In order to be as consistent as possible, I went to classes taught by the same two instructors who led the Naked Yoga classes. It seems that many Yoga teachers hold classes at several different studios, with only a handful allowing Nude Yoga.
As I report back from the field, I’ve gotta tell ya that I did feel a greater sense of openness and freedom sans-clothing. It’s hard (challenging!) to put this subjective feeling into words, but it was pronounced and refreshing.
The Anti-Materialism of Naked Yoga
My personal draw to Naked Yoga is the aspect of anti-materialism inherent in nude activities in general, and in spiritual pursuits in particular. Nakedness has a long history in some of the ascetic traditions of various world religions. During my graduate studies in comparative religions, I became enthralled with Jainism. What initially intrigued me was their extreme stance on ahimsa (non-violence). Later I came to appreciate their ascetic practices, both because of their diligent stance, as well as the deep spiritual meaning and significance underlying them.
Still to this day, in many parts of the world, if you see a dude wandering around naked with no possessions, there’s a chance he’s a Sadhu, one who has renounced the material world for spiritual pursuits.
Of course, he could also be this type of guy:
Butt I digress…
If you haven’t noticed, Yoga has become big business in first world countries. In the US alone, one study found that Americans spent over 16 BILLION dollars this past year on Yoga classes, clothing and gear.
And since we’re talking about Nude Yoga, let’s focus on the clothing element for a moment.
From what experienced Yoginis tell me, it’s commonplace to for women to wear $200-$300 worth of specialty yoga clothing to a group class. And many of them have several such outfits. Designer labels abound, the most inane being Lululemon. Lulu is so easy to pick on not only because they’re the biggest and most overpriced, but also because, despite their brilliant marketing, they’re probably the LEAST Yoga-like company on the planet.
For many people, their style and choice of clothing is a way to differentiate themselves from others. Differentiation is a method of further solidifying the illusion of separation between both people and all of nature.
Clothes make the (wo)man. So what is left when all the clothes are removed?
Remember, we’re all naked under our clothes.
Oh, it just occured to me that I might have missed directly answering some of the initial questions, so here goes:
Why would anyone choose to do Naked Yoga? – I think I covered this one.
Is “Naked Yoga” just code for an ORGY? – Not in my experience. But you never know, so do your research.
When do you strip down? – Everyone got naked at the beginning of class, when the instructor said “Ok, let’s get naked.”
Do the Gospel Pipes and Winnebagos just flop around everywhere? – Yep, in some poses more than others.
Should you make an anal bleaching appointment before your first class? – Optional. I chose to do so, but primarily as material for another blog post and book project.
Hairy Yogurt Das
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