OK, so apparently I’m the only one who thought naked yoga was something to be done in the privacy of one’s own home — preferably in a dim-lit area void of mirrors, windows and nosy, sniffing dogs. But, according to a new report, “exposing” yourself to the benefits of this practice in a public class along with other sans-clothes enthusiasts is a growing trend.
I’m all for a little nakedness from time to time, but all of this brings up more questions than answers. Like, how exactly is one supposed to focus in class when you have someone else’s asana all up in your space? Is that boob or butt supposed to be your new drishti? What happens during poses like wide-leg straddle, crow and half-moon when your lady parts are on full display? Won’t men be wagging their dog all over the place? How are you supposed to react when the teacher comes up behind you to give you an assist during downward dog? Doesn’t your mat get all kinds of yuck on it? And, what’s a girl supposed to do during that time of the month? See? Questions.
But according to some naked yoga aficionados, shedding one’s clothes brings a new level of honesty and authenticity to the practice — something that can easily get lost in the fashion and branding surrounding yoga, Isis Phoenix, a yoga instructor at Naked Yoga NYC told MyHealthNewsDaily.
“A new reality is created in the first 15 minutes of class — a reality where people can be naked and practice yoga in the room, and it’s OK. Nobody’s going to point and laugh.”
Phoenix goes on to say that naked yoga also boosts self-confidence by helping people accept and celebrate their bodies.
“In that first 15 minutes, I would say most people go through a transformation of holding that new reality really solidly, and that makes other things possible, including confronting their fears about their new experience.”
Call me a yoga square, but it seems to me this would elicit more self-consciousness than self-confidence. That being said, if I put on my non-judgmental, open-minded yogi headband (which is probably the only article of clothing one could wear during such an experience), I can almost see how being naked in a class filled with other naked people could hypothetically make you feel more comfortable about your body. Although this still seems like a big stretch to me (pun intended). I mean, yoga is exposing enough — even with clothes on. It conveniently brings up all of our issues, even if we didn’t think we had issues. Constantly checking yourself and others out in the mirror? You have self-esteem issues. Won’t try headstand? You have fear issues. Coming out of a pose before the rest of the class? You have commitment issues. Won’t close your eyes during a partner pose? Trust issues. At least this is what my fully clothed teacher says.
Even so, other experts continue to tout the benefits of yoga au naturel. Janet Konefal, assistant dean for complementary and integrative medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who researches yoga’s health benefits says there are plenty of other psychological advantages to naked yoga:
“If you’re wearing loose clothing or spandex, there’s nothing to stop you from doing all the postures or stretches or movements in yoga with the proper clothes. The sense of freedom is not a physical, it’s psychological.”
Freedom? Maybe. I think I’ll keep my clothes on though. But if you do decide to try a naked yoga class, let us know how it is. Oh, and be sure to bring your own mat. We don’t even want to think about doing this on someone else’s mat.
Photo: Naked Yoga NYC.