A few years ago, the concept of practicing yoga in the nude started gaining traction in a few select cities and in online yoga communities. At the time, I was living in San Francisco, and not to my surprise, the concept was being embraced wholeheartedly. Of course, a lot of concepts that take shape in San Francisco don’t necessarily see the same welcome in other parts of the US, with perhaps the exception of New York and maybe a one or two other cities. I paid no attention to the growing buzz of Naked Yoga. I was (and still am) in love with my yoga studio and home practice. In fact, only a monumental shift in the practice of yoga could tear me away from my Ashtanga routine and my beloved yoga clothes. After all, what use would my comfy yoga pants have if I decided to forego them?
I recognize today that I didn’t really give the concept of Naked Yoga a fair enough shot. In hindsight, I immediately dismissed the concept (for me) based on the assumption that Naked Yoga was about, well, being naked during yoga. Obviously, that’s the practical aspect; but it doesn’t explore the theoretical or beneficial aspects of the practice.
Recently, I read one journalist’s impression of Naked Yoga. It was well written, humorous, but unfortunately, a bit too cynical for my taste. It did however make me think of my own bias when I first heard of the term. Thanks to Mr. Cynical Reporter, I’m now motivated to explore the theories of Naked Yoga.
Most studios that feature Naked Yoga, both with a physical and virtual address, pretty much discuss the same commonalities of reasons and benefits to practicing yoga without clothes. However, many opt to emphasis different points. In general, all seem to conquer that Naked Yoga offers yogis the opportunity to reach a deeper connection to themselves. While yoga (with clothes) provides the spiritual, physical and mental tools to reach balance, tranquility, peace, happiness and a number of more enlightened states; clothes may actual hinder an individual’s ability to fully concentrate and reach an enlightened state. Then there’s a slightly different perspective that emphasizes ”unity.” In this capacity, Naked Yoga offers participants the ability to reconnect with themselves and others on a deeper level. The concept is grounded in the idea that, in general, we are inhibited beings - inhibited by our environment, stress, upbringing, and many more including clothes. Naked Yoga sheds that inhibition for the individual. More so, the removal of the inhibition is all the more powerful when practiced in numbers.
The last reason is what really caught my eye. It spoke to me in a more practical and universal manner than did the above listed benefits. Ironically, it seems so obvious; but it took reading about it to finally understand why some choose and love Naked Yoga (and perhaps why I just might try it one of these days…maybe). The fundamental idea is that Naked Yoga is liberating. To remove one’s clothes in any social setting is fundamentally going against the grain; therefore it liberates the individual in such a way that can’t be measured. Naturally, the idea and initial attempt to practice yoga with clothes can be terribly frightening and embarrassing. The philosophy of Naked Yoga is there to teach individuals how to let go of this fear and shame and any other limiting self perceptions. When applied to more real-world situations, it’s quite a powerful concept: to rid oneself of fear, shame and limitations. What that really equates to is the cultivation of confidence, security, strength and wholeness. Whether you’re practicing Naked Yoga alone at home or with a room full of fellow yogis, the idea is that you are closer to reaching feelings of pride, respect, openness and acceptance. Now that’s pretty powerful stuff.
What do you think? Have you tried Naked Yoga? Is it offered in your community?