Yoga in the Nude

Thinking about trying yoga in the nude?

Many of us wouldn’t consider taking off our clothes in a public setting. A few are even hesitant in the locker room after a workout; they will wrap a towel around their waist before taking off their underwear to avoid exposing themselves. But many men (and women) sense they are missing something by not trying new adventures such as a nude beach. The boldest among us may find themselves curious about such daring endeavors as yoga in the nude.

yoga in the nudeAll of the photos in this post are screenshots from Aaron Star’s DVD Hot Nude Yoga

Yoga in the nude is quite different than getting naked on a crowded, impersonal nude beach. You find yourself in a much more intimate setting. You have a connection with the other guys and/or gals that are on mats two or three feet away from you. Depending on your physical condition or your level of yoga skills, you may at first feel self-conscious or intimidated. After all you’re naked and about to have a challenging workout.

yoga in the nudeYoga in the nude is different from nude beaches or locker room showers in other ways as well. In close proximity to others, your body will be getting into positions that are uniquely revealing. The most intimate areas of your body will frequently be exposed. You’ll often be on your hands and knees. You’ll be sticking your ass up in the air. You’ll be spreading your legs in myriad body positions. This may serve to discourage you, but don’t let it. The others, except for perhaps your instructor, will be too occupied with their own workouts to have the time or inclination to check you out.

yoga in the nudeThe following article from qnotes.com is about the writer’s first time in a nude yoga class, an experience much like the one I had, and what growing numbers of other men are having around the world. It’s truly remarkable, after all the apprehension one feels by making the commitment, how quickly you forget about your own and others’ nudity, and focus solely on the workout. I can tell you from personal experience that that is the case, plus it gives you an enlightening sense of freedom and exhilaration.

From goqnotes.com

by David Stout | Associate Editor

Yoga instructor Joey Barnes enters the room where his class is set to begin in just a few minutes. He drops his bag and opens his folded notes, making a last mental record of the movement and balance poses he has planned for this afternoon’s session.

yoga in the nudeAfter a quick scan he puts the paper in his pocket and removes his jacket, shoes and socks. He is left wearing a tank top and track pants. An agreeable uniform for the practice of yoga — in most instances anyway.

In a moment these items are also peeled off and Barnes is nude. He turns his attention to the similarly unclothed assemblage of men resting cross-legged before him. I sit nervously among them. Following a genial exchange of hellos and how have you beens, Charlotte’s first and only naked yoga class for men gets underway.

I take a deep breath and try to relax. “Why in the world do people want to do this,” I wonder silently.

In no time my muscles are burning and my mind is solely focused on the practice. The earlier awkward awareness of my own nakedness is completely wiped away. Time passes quickly and when the class is over, like most, I mill around the snack table making smalltalk.

If not for the fact that we are all undressed, this could be any mixer I’ve ever been to. It occurs to me how comfortable I have become with my own naked body in such a short period of Continue reading

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Nude Yoga for Men: Interview with Per Erez

It’s not about being gay or straight or bisexual.  It’s about being a man and a man’s natural desire to be with those like him.  The nudity simply makes the experience more prophetic.  It’s about being a thoughtful man, uninhibited by the shackles imposed by homophobic mores and society’s misguided strictures of shame.  Thanks to Per Erez, male body acceptance is alive and well in Chicago.

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An Interview with Per Erez . . .

From chicagoist.com

Despite their initial reservations, men in Chicago are turning the other cheek and joining all-male nude yoga classes, an exercise the Associated Press calls “a form of sensualized yoga practiced nude.” Per (pronounced “Pear”) Erez, who teaches the classes in his private Rogers Park studio, limits the number of men who attend the sessions in order to “establish clarity of intention” and to provide a more “individualized approach to teaching.” Erez, 43, a well-established yoga instructor who has taught traditional “clothed” yoga for over 20 years (Oprah Winfrey is a former client), believes practicing nude yoga offers men a chance to be less concerned about “how they show up physically on their mat,” and gradually reduces “their own inner critical voice about what the male form should look like in others.”

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Chicagoist: What is the number one question you get asked by beginners?

Per Erez: Oddly enough, it is probably not what most people would think. When I first began teaching these classes, I got much of what I called the “Big E” question from men who were concerned about bodily responses during classes. You will find frank discussions of erections commonly labored over on almost all the nude yoga Web sites across the country—including mine. The most common question I get these days, however, revolves around men who want to join, but who happen to hold positions of authority or esteem in their local communities. On several occasions, rabbis, pastors, teachers, doctors, and even a few politicians have asked what happens if a patient, congregant, student, etc. comes to the same session they plan on attending.

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C: And how do you calm these fears, Per?

PE: I don’t, in particular, have one answer, because I think students concerns about disclosure and revelation of nude yoga practice don’t all come from the same place. Some realize they won’t have to worry about losing their jobs for example, but social ostracism is more the issue. Some prospective students are more concerned with how co-workers or friends might think them unconventional or downright silly for even considering yoga like this.

Ultimately, I encourage members not to share anything more about themselves than their first name (or a name they would like to use) if they are uncomfortable; like all transformations, at some point, one has to be willing to step to the edge of current self-knowledge in order to explore the unknown self on the other side. Practicing this way is about taking that first step with lots of support and safety.

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C: What were your initial concerns related to teaching an all-male nude yoga class?

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Yoga in the Nude

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For me the experience of nude yoga had meaning on several levels: an opportunity to meet other like-minded men, with whom I shared a purpose and a common goal; the giddy sensations of undressing with a group of men I didn’t know, men of different ages and body types; being naked and  physically challenged with them; the strenuous positions of yoga; and the sensuality of being naked among other naked men.

It was indeed a sensual experience, but not a sexual one.  Within moments, each of us were more involved in the challenges of exhausting exercise, forgetting  our physical flaws, concentrating on our instructor’s demonstrations.  The concept of nudity and being among nude men may have been intriguing enough to get our attention, but, having gathered in that warm candlelit room, the goal of self-improvement was foremost on our minds.  This just happened to be a more interesting way to achieve it.

A similar experience from San Francisco is described in the following article from SFGate.

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Doing it in the altogether is what makes this yoga practice altogether free from distractions

From SFGate

By Carolyne Zinko

Some fitness fads require sporty gear and equipment, but the practice of yoga requires only the bare essentials: loose clothes, a mat and time to do the exercises. The latest trend in yoga requires even less. We’re not talking about aqua yoga, done in a pool, or disco yoga, set to dance tunes, or “boga,” boxing yoga, done with gloves.

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No, a San Francisco community center is offering naked yoga, where bare essentials means just that: Men and women are completely nude during the 90- minute class.

This is not the invention of “naked yoga guy” George Monty Davis, who made headlines last year for (legally) striking naked yoga poses at Fisherman’s Wharf, nor a “hot nude yoga” class for gay men, popular in Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles, or in any way connected to Internet-sold videos of voluptuous women doing naked yoga on wave-washed beaches with horses galloping by.

The new naked yoga class on Sunday mornings at the One Taste Urban Retreat Center on Folsom Street is meant to be transforming, not titillating. That’s a concept that American culture, with its taboos on nudity, might find difficult to grasp. The center, which opened 10 months ago, was founded by Nicole Daedone, also a co-founder of 111 Minna Gallery. It offers dance classes and massage, has a small cafe and an art gallery, and hosts various events.

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The class is about the challenge of yoga, and about the challenge of accepting — and even revering — one’s own body.

“It’s not a sexual experience,” said Rob Kandell, the center’s business manager. “It’s a heart-opening experience.”

On a recent Sunday morning, yoga instructor Meredith Medland, 33, gave students a sort of pep talk before entering the classroom, emphasizing the idea of the body as a vessel and getting them to calm their thoughts.

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Five women and four men entered fully clothed, carrying their mats. Many were in their 20s and 30s, but some were decades older.

Continue reading

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Naked Yoga: A Stripped Down Exercise

For the past 10 years, Ray Whetstone has been teaching a nude yoga class in Oakland Park. Whetstone demonstrates the pigeon pose. (Sun Sentinel/Article by Michael Laughlin / May 5, 2009)

I am straight.

I repeat that to myself as I walk into a dance studio, pull off my shirt, and drop my shorts and undies onto the wood floor.

I’m surrounded by 17 other nude men – and mirrors.

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In a moment, we’ll start practicing yoga.For 20 years, I’ve taken yoga classes in sweaty gyms, incense-drenched studios and even in an office conference room. But always with my clothes on.

Tonight will be different for me, but not for most of the men in the room. Ray Whetstone has taught naked yoga for more than 10 years in South Florida. I learned about it by stumbling across his site, arcoirisyoga.com.

Arco iris is Spanish for rainbow; most of the men here are gay.

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“The automatic assumption is that nudity is sex,” he says. But not here. He notes that in all his years of teaching, every man’s dog has remained downward.

I place my mat in a corner spot, so I’ll have one neighbor instead of two. In the minutes before class starts, I stretch out in corpse pose, so I won’t have to look. When we stand up to start the class, I tilt my gaze slightly upward, so if I see anything, it’s faces and shoulders.

Then I fill my head with yoga-ese.

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Yoga is all about letting go of external labels that get in your way, I remind myself. Going within. Testing your focus.

Besides, if anyone’s looking to score, it wouldn’t be with this 50-year-old.

“We’ve had straight boys here before,” says Whetstone, who in 1998 became the first openly gay elder ordained by the Presbyterian Church. An optometrist, he commutes to Naples four days a week to work. Teaching naked yoga two nights a week is his recreation. Continue reading

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