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 yoga 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 people 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 acceptance of one’s own body.
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 off your clothing first thing, while others allow you to remove your apparel a little bit at a time as you move throughout the practice. Some even offer the option to keep your bottoms on until you become completely comfortable with full-body nudity.
Many classes are open to students of all genders, over the age of 18, and are beginner-friendly. 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 to ensure a naked yoga studio provides a safe space for all practitioners.
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 (2).
Reputable nude yoga studios enforce their rules to avoid any chance of disorderly conduct amongst practitioners.
To alleviate any concerns about hygiene, most studios offering nude yoga sessions instruct students to bring their own mat and towel.
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 (3).
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 (4).
Connect With Your Body
No matter your gender or body type, nude yoga can push you out of your comfort zone and deepen your practice in several ways. Practicing familiar postures in a naked yoga flow 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 bodily and sensory awareness. As you squat and twist your way through an easy flow, you can clearly watch the way your muscles engage (5).
After a few naked workouts, you actually might find that clothing is restrictive, in the way that it cuts you off from appreciating the hard work of your body on your yoga mat!
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 own 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!
Some Tips for your First Time
For your first time in a naked yoga class, stick to the basics, and choose a class that is an easy flow, appropriate to your skill level. Especially if you are a beginner to yoga, you won’t want to be too distracted by unfamiliar poses.
Most nude yoga studios will offer an all-levels class, but here are a few poses you should be familiar with before stepping into your first nude yoga class. You might even try practicing these postures at home, to get used to how they feel in the nude:
Child’s pose is an important asana in any yoga class. In a workout surrounded by other naked people, a child’s pose is a safe resting place for you to take a few deep breaths if you begin to feel uncomfortable at any point in time.
Downward Dog is included in most vinyasa and Hatha classes, thus you may already be familiar with this posture. However, doing this pose in full-body nudity will be a new experience for you even if you are not a beginner in yoga.
Chair Pose is a great posture to include in a naked yoga workout, as it engages several major muscle groups in the body. When you practice chair pose in the nude, try to notice each muscle working, and acknowledge how strong your body is!
You don’t necessarily have to possess a passion for nudism to enjoy activities like a nude yoga class or other types of naked workout, for that matter.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of nude yoga practice, first do your research: find a reputable yoga studio that sets clear boundaries and expectations for the yoga class.
Determine your comfort level, if you’re okay participating in a co-ed class and whether or not you’d like the option to keep minimal clothing on —there are likely options for you to choose from! (Wherever you decide to go, remember to bring your own mat and a towel!)
If a series of Sun Salutations in the buff surrounded by other disrobed yogis sounds too intimidating at first, you can always try a naked workout 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. So strip down, grab your towel and mat, and give it a try!
- Little India Features. “Naked Yoga Anyone.” Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American, 1 Sept. 2017, littleindia.com/naked-yoga-anyone/.
- Kassel, Gabrielle. “I Tried a Naked Yoga Class-and Actually Loved How It Made Me Feel.” Health.com, Meredith Health Group, 17 Aug. 2018, www.health.com/fitness/i-tried-naked-yoga.
- Gonzalez, Alex. “Downward Facing Dong: A Dallas Studio Offers Naked Yoga Classes for Men.” Dallas Observer, Dallas Observer, 14 Feb. 2020, www.dallasobserver.com/arts/naked-yoga-instructors-tells-us-the-benefits-of-practicing-yoga-naked-11869827.
- Bearne, Suzanne. “Here’s What Happened When I Tried A Naked Yoga Class.” Australia WomensHealth, Are Media PTY LTD, 27 Aug. 2020, www.womenshealth.com.au/naked-yoga-class-review.
- Glantz, Jen. “Taking a Naked Yoga Class Gave Me a New Appreciation for My Body.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 28 July 2019, www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/taking-naked-yoga-class-gave-me-new-appreciation-my-body-ncna1027991.