Oxford English dictionary
na-ked adj. - without clothes, nude, defenceless, unsheathed, plain, undisguised.
Nakedness is often viewed with shame and fear. By practicing Naked Yoga, the aim is to shift these feelings and the limited perceptions we have of ourselves and other’s, and move into a place of openness and acceptance of who we really are. After all we come into this world naked, so what is there to hide!
I chose to write this article after I posed naked for various Yoga shots to create my website. Naked Yoga was barely spoken of three years ago, which was partly why I chose to do the photographs. As the majority of my pictures were taken out in wilds of nature during the autumn season, the experience was one of great liberation. Although initially I felt apprehensive about taking my clothes off, when I really thought about it I questioned, “what is clothing?” Is it not just an outer façade or an expression of our personalities?
Looking at this from a Yogic perspective even our physical bodies are not a true expression of who we really are. The body is just the house, the temple, the vessel, the residing place for the soul - wouldn’t you agree? So looking at it from this angle I shed all fear and anxiety and made the most of being in the moment.
Autumn time is my favourite time of year. Nature dies to be reborn in the spring. The feeling I had was of being at one with the planet. Feeling the earth beneath my feet and the crisp leaves between my fingers brought me the closest I think I could ever have been to the world of elemental beings, whether you chose to believe in them or not. The true sense of freedom, of being unclothed and unrestricted by space brought with it great exhilaration which allowed my personality to transform into a more playful childlike form - in turn creating a sense of youth within me. However, this is not to say I urge you all to run into the woods practicing naked yoga! And I doubt that I would personally find a naked Yoga class quite as liberating. The lack of nature within a class scenario doesn’t fill me with a sense of nurture. Certainly the thought of people baring all in downward dog doesn’t appeal!!
My images have been a target for criticism, a risk I was willing to take. I was always aware of the implications of taking on this project and that people do have the freedom of speech, whether that is one of love, hate or constructive criticism. Through certain eyes there may be a fine line between images such as these and pornography, but I see this as a different topic altogether
Naked Yoga in a Class Environment
So let us look at the benefits of Naked Yoga as a practice or personal Sadhana. When we think about Naked Yoga we think about shedding our clothes. With this comes a sense of release and liberation which could also be compared to shedding our personal emotional load and baggage, helping to open new horizons and giving a sense of feeling at home within your skin.
The origins of Naked Yoga stem back from the time of the hippies of the 1960’s, the beginning of peace, free love and harmony in the flower power era. Although Naked Yoga has become a fad it is highly popular amongst young people who live in metropolitan areas and the male gay community.
One of its major objectives is to enable you to feel free within your body and eliminate any concerns that you may have regarding physical imperfections, which in time will help win over any discomforts you may have regarding your body and feelings of self consciousness.
In a nutshell Naked Yoga helps to encourage a new appreciation for the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of being in and with the ‘self.’ However, what could the negatives aspects be regarding the practice? No matter what our personal point of view may be, nudity is still a taboo subject in both eastern and western continents. This is the reason why Naked Yoga has not taken off across the globe. Nudity is distracting, and not only is it a challenge to the concentration in a class situation, but in the majority of peoples eyes nudity goes hand in hand with sex. If we think of nudity we think of sex and when we think of sex we think of nudity, this is part of human nature.
Perception of Naked Yoga falls into three categories - acceptance, disgust or humour.
We could argue forever as to why people feel this way. It could simply be due to the fact that nudity is not everyone’s cup of tea; that it’s not acceptable as human beings that we flaunt ourselves in such a public manner. A bit of modesty and respect for the body goes along way and adds to the mystery of life. When we reveal all, then the mystery is shattered to a degree.
So for those of you that may feel up to participating in Naked Yoga, here are the Goals and Etiquette tips that you should consider.
Encourages correct alignment
Promotes a sense of openness for class participants
Eliminates concerns regarding physical imperfections
Helps develop self esteem
Remove clothes - this is expected
Don’t stare - it’s simply not polite!
Naked Yoga is just as tough as any other Yoga class, so be prepared to work
Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding how to perform specific postures
Bring your own mat and towel
Enjoy the class
Unite your mind, liberate your body, feel fantastic, find your spirit, feel a new confidence, and don’t be afraid!