Naked Yoga: What to Expect From a Nude Yoga Class
As yoga continues to gain popularity in mainstream culture, it understandably passes through (sometimes oddly-specific) trends. From goat yoga to toe yoga, there are many creative ways to spice up your asana practice. One of the more prominent trends currently gaining interest is naked yoga.
The idea of practicing yoga asana in your birthday suit may seem like a gimmick to some; however, it isn’t just a ploy to increase your likes on your Instagram feed. When principles of yoga philosophy are applied to the practice of nude yoga, it’s easy to see this trend has a legitimate place in the yoga world.
Attending a yoga class with a bunch of other naked strangers may seem daunting. However, when practiced with clear intentions, naked yoga can serve to deepen the experience of your practice in many ways.
What Is Naked Yoga?
Although the trend of naked yoga is just beginning to spread throughout the U.S., practicing yoga in the nude has been around as long as the practice of yoga itself. Nagna Yoga is a branch of yoga practiced by a group of ascetic Hindu yogis called Naga Sudhus. Its intention is to pacify one’s desires while connecting deeper with the natural world. (1)
Recently, the movement has spread from places like New York City and Los Angeles, to yoga studios all across the country.
Practicing asana naked —not to mention sharing a space full of other nude yogis — may raise a few eyebrows and draw skepticism. However, it is important to note that naked yoga classes strive to actually de-sexualize the human body, rather than taking a sensual approach. Many people tend to associate being naked with sex; on the contrary, naked yoga emphasizes the deeply individual experience of self-love and body acceptance. (2)
What to Expect From a Naked Yoga Class
As with other styles of yoga, there are different options to choose from if you’re intrigued by the idea of practicing asana —au naturale.
Some instructors may encourage you to strip down to your birthday suit right away, while others allow you to remove clothing piece by piece as you move throughout the practice, with some even offering the option to keep your bottoms on until you become completely comfortable with full nudity. Many classes are open to students of all genders, over the age of 18; however, there are also male- or female-only alternatives for people who feel more at ease surrounded by their similar gender expression.
Is It Safe?
There are several common rules and guidelines. Clear boundaries create a safe and respectful environment for all clientele and instructors, and generally include: no staring at others, no touching without consent, and no commenting —even making compliments — on others’ bodies (3).
To alleviate any concerns about hygiene, most studios offering nude yoga sessions instruct students to bring their own mat and towel (4).
Who Practices Naked Yoga and Why?
All different types of people embrace this movement, and for many different reasons.
One yoga teacher of a Dallas-based nude class for men believes the class offers an “equalizing” experience, where “men of all races, classes, religions, and backgrounds” can come together, sharing common ground. Men, in fact, collectively experience a significant rate of shame towards their bodies. Over time, many men find they can begin to shed inhibitions and foster compassion towards themselves and their bodies (5).
For many women, an obvious benefit of disrobing for an asana session is that it removes the pressure to keep up with the latest trends in women’s fashion, always sporting new, expensive leggings. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the fashion and branding we see scrolling while through social media. Stripping down to nothing but your skin helps you shed expectations and insecurities, and build a connection with your true, authentic self. Going “au naturale” redirects your attention from outside distractions, back to the integrity of your practice (6).
No matter your gender, naked yoga can push you out of your comfort zone and deepen your practice in several ways. Practicing familiar postures while disrobed can offer you a new perspective and change your experience of a specific pose. Being in your bare skin can also help you connect more strongly to the present moment, through increased body awareness. Likewise, your sensory awareness may be heightened, for example, feeling the sensation of the air against your skin as you move through different yoga poses.
Perhaps one of the most widely-reported benefits of this intimate style of yoga is cultivating a feeling of self-acceptance, and building a healthy relationship with your body. Through the act of physically removing your clothes, you can symbolically remove judgments towards yourself, let go of critical self-talk, and limiting personal beliefs you may have placed on yourself. In this way, shedding layers of clothing one at a time is an act of meditation.
As with all yoga, the intention behind your asana is what counts!
If you’re intrigued by the idea of joining a naked yoga session, first do your research: find a reputable yoga studio that sets clear boundaries and expectations for the yoga class. Determine whether you’re comfortable with a co-ed class and whether you’d like the option to keep minimal clothing on —there are likely options for you to choose from!
If a series of Sun Salutations in the buff surrounded by other disrobed yogis sounds too intimidating at first, you can always give it a try in the privacy of your own home, where there are no other eyes wandering the room. After all, the goal of naked yoga is not about seeing or being seen by others. Like all kinds of yoga, it is meant to be an introspective and individually insightful experience.