Why Naked Yoga?

Posted by Steven Russell on Thursday, October 25, 2012

I’ve heard it many times: I understand doing yoga, but why naked yoga?

Most people will admit to understanding some of the benefits of yoga, even if they’ve never experienced them. The stretching. Many people’s understanding of yoga is limited to stretching. Yes, many things get stretched in a yoga class. But there’s more than just stretching. The relaxation. Yes, there is much relaxation in a yoga class. But a deep relaxation rarely comes without some sort of work beforehand. The breathing. If people understand that underlying much of yoga is the breath, they are well on their way to comprehending much of the power of yoga. The focus of the mind. Now we are talking serious yoga. The stretching, the relaxation, and the breathing can all lead to an increase in the ability of the mind to focus. And this can lead to meditation, which is rarely discredited for its powerful benefits. So where does the naked part come in? It’s hard to explain without experiencing it, but being naked can make all of the above easier. How? I don’t know. I can only go by the effects.

Often when I have gone to a yoga class, particularly if there are other guys there (yes, I know, some sort of ego thing with being male I suppose) I can get into a state of competition. I can find myself constantly looking around and comparing myself and what I am doing with everyone else. If someone else is doing a pose, I feel the need to do it better. If someone else is standing on his head, I will make sure that I stand on mine longer. If there’s an attractive man, I need to imagine the details of his body over and over again throughout the class and especially afterward, perhaps even trying to get his attention. However, when I’m in a class of all naked men, much if not all of that goes away. I spend the majority of my energy focusing on what I’m doing. I’m much calmer, and can deepen my breathing. I spend little if any time looking around the room comparing myself to others. I feel much more content doing what I should be doing and not worrying about what other people think. I’m much more relaxed.

Perhaps this has a lot to do with being comfortable being naked. It’s no secret. I’ve been going to the nude beach at Sandy Hook for over twenty-seven years. I’m ok being naked and being around people who also are. Many people who’ve never done it tell me that they would do such a thing if only they could get a little bit more in shape. I try over and over to tell them that that isn’t what it’s about. There is every imaginable body type there. It’s not where people go to show off being in shape. But it is a very large group of people comfortable with who and how they are. I tell them about the experience of the first time going there: You worry, but you want to do it. You’re excited and scared at the same time. You look around and see thousands of naked bodies. You work up the nerve. You let the desire of wanting to do it overcome the shame and embarrassment you might feel. So you do it. You get naked. You feel the thrill. You enjoy the sunshine on your skin. The wind through your hair. You stand there for a minute or two in complete naked liberation. And then it hits you. You come to the sudden, sad realization that NO ONE IS LOOKING. You worked yourself up and finally did it, and not one person noticed. You’re standing there buck naked to the world and not one of the hundreds and hundreds of pairs of eyes within normal corrected-vision range is focused on you.

So, to put it more concisely, get over yourself. And once you do, and you’re able to stand there naked among nakedness, life and all its distractions, worries, comparisons, ego fits, and fears of embarrassment start to disappear. That is naked yoga. 


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