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What Is Naked Yoga?

By Marisa O'Connor
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Naked yoga is just what it sounds like; yoga done while in the nude. This form of yoga first surfaced in the west, in the 1960s, but didn't gain widespread popularity until 2001. Yoga is considered a celebration of the body, and practicing in the nude is said to increase self-acceptance and love of the body. Insecurities about sexuality and body image have been alleviated and healed for some practicing this form of yoga.

The word yoga translates to mean union, which refers to the union of mind, body, and spirit. This union is a very important aspect of yoga, also called asana. It is an increasingly popular form of exercise, consisting of practicing physical poses. These poses, when done consistently and correctly, create a balance in the body through developing strength and flexibility. When these poses are done in the nude, it is called naked yoga.

Naked yoga has been practiced in the west since the 1960s. It is one of the newest additions to the ancient practice of yoga. Aaron Star began his own Hot Nude Yoga classes in April of 2001, which gained wild popularity. From then, nude yoga classes began popping up all over the world, in cities like Sydney, London, Moscow, and Madrid. Reports of this strange new practice in Time Out New York and the San Francisco Chronicle, further popularized nude yoga.

Many people cringe when they consider trying to hold awkward poses in the buff, but this is actually one of the reasons to try naked yoga. This type of yoga is designed to remove the shame associated with the body and nudity. According to many people practicing nude yoga, it can be a very healing experience. Acceptance of the whole self, including the physical body, is cultivated during the practice of naked asana.

One of the most difficult and nerve-wracking parts of naked yoga is disrobing. This anxiety is present for many individuals whether they are on their own or in a class setting. For this reason, disrobing is made into a very spiritual, ritualized occasion. The underlying message of this practice is that nudity can be very freeing, and as such, disrobing can be like an act of freeing oneself.

Naked yoga is often done with other people, in a class session, but is not considered a sexual experience. Some people are afraid they will become physically aroused around others practicing in the nude. This is an understandable fear, however, shame about sexual arousal is discouraged in these environments. Being sexual is part of being human, and all aspects of the body are celebrated during yoga. Safety is a top priority during nude yoga classes, so no touching of other members or teachers is allowed during sessions.

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Discussion Comments

By discographer — On Feb 13, 2015

I don't think naked yoga is a good idea either. I think people who sign up are doing it just for the thrill of being naked in public. And if people don't use personal mats, I can't imagine the kind of infections one may pick up in this kind of yoga.

Although yoga is supposed to be mostly spiritual, some poses are difficult and awkward. I think that much more than any liberation it provides, being naked around others must be very uncomfortable for others around us. People are assuming that everyone who attends the class is a hygienic, fit 20 year old but that's not the case. There are people of all shapes, sizes and ages. I personally don't want to see that.

By ZipLine — On Feb 12, 2015

@ysmina-- I completely understand, most people feel the same way. I was very nervous about trying naked yoga but I did and it was not like that at all. The environment is not like that. Mats are arranged in a way so that people aren't really looking at one another. And the people who do attend aren't there to see naked people. They are there for the yoga and to learn to be comfortable in their own skin. So there is nothing sexual or uncomfortable happening.

I understand that attending a naked yoga class will be nerve wrecking for many people. Those who are not comfortable with this idea can do it at home, by themselves. That will have similar results. The idea is to learn to love our bodies and accept our physical form however it may be. And believe it or not, naked yoga really does that.

By ysmina — On Feb 12, 2015

I think that naked yoga is an awful idea and I would never do it. I don't believe that naked yoga is about self-acceptance. Yoga is not just about the union of the mind and body. It's also about spiritual union with the higher being. The need to cover the private areas of our body is a natural instinct. Doing naked yoga will only do one thing in my opinion, that is to shed inhibitions around other people if done in a class setting. People can argue all they want that this is not a sexual experience but it must be. People are seeing each other's private parts for goodness sake!

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