Did the title of this article alarm you? Did it seem like an attempt at clickbait?
Well, no, nude yoga is a popular form of yoga and it dates back to the 7th century. So, it isn’t a modern attempt at liberation. The Sanskrit term for nude yoga is Nagna or Vivastra yoga and it refers to practicing yoga without clothes. Naked yoga is classified as a spiritual practice and, as expected, has garnered some really strong reactions. Several practitioners have also been arrested in the past for trying to perform nude yoga in a public space.
The practice has evolved over centuries, and there are now studies to support its promised benefits. Spending time naked has been associated with several physical and mental health benefits, among which more body positivity and better self-esteem top the list. Other benefits include improved metabolism, better sleep quality, better vaginal health and better intimacy. Continue to read to get the other benefits of nude Yoga
What does nude yoga symbolize?
Historically, nude yoga started as an aspect of Indian yoga. It symbolized going bare, both physically and spiritually. The practitioners regarded it as stripping the love for material possessions and sexual desires. A multitude of movies from the 1960s and 70s have shown nude yoga that made its way to Europe and North America. The trajectory of the movement is associated with the naturist and hippie movements; it now has more followers than ever. The modern world embraced the concept partly because of the culture of the sexual liberation of the self. It is a widespread phenomenon in the western world where the concept of social and yogic nudity is not frowned upon as much as in other parts of the world.
Motivations for practicing nude yoga
One common reaction that the concept of naked yoga attracts is the disbelief that someone would love yoga enough to be naked in a group class. As a yoga instructor, I have had many people ask me questions like “What drives someone to be naked in a group class?” or “How can someone bare it all in a group class?”
Here are some feelings that drive practitioners to go naked in a group class:
- A sense of freedom: Decluttering the mind is an important aspect of yoga and is known to bring about inner peace. Similarly, getting rid of everything (including clothes) is known to make the practitioner feel free of social constructs and conditioning around nakedness.
- Body positivity: It is important to feel better about oneself to attract positivity from the world. Self-love is driven majorly by body acceptance and positivity. Being nude and seeing oneself perform a multitude of poses helps one to appreciate the beauty and strength of the body. Also, watching real bodies around helps to undo the conditioning from years of regarding picture-perfect bodies as beauty. Practicing nude yoga in a safe and nurturing environment helps to accept inner imperfections and take pride in unique capabilities.
- Getting rid of embarrassment and negative emotions: The human body was not created with clothes. Clothes are man made and so are embarrassment and shame. They are concepts created by society to exercise control. Nude yoga helps to undo this conditioning and get rid of the embarrassment.
- Getting connected to nature: Naked yoga helps to detach from mundane things in life and this allows one to focus on nature and its various aspects. The undivided attention thus makes it easier to enjoy and appreciate the creations and wonders of nature.
- Re-connecting with other humans in their purest form: It is a well-known fact that what we do in our life outside is different from what we are inside. We often keep our vulnerability and fears to ourselves. Being nude helps to let go of inhibitions, and all the practitioners in the nude yoga class express their fragility and vulnerability. This allows them to connect to other humans in the group class better.
- Strengthening the connection between mind, body, and spirit: Since naked yoga practices remove inhibitions, offer a sense of freedom, increase confidence, and improve body image, they also deepen the connection between mind, body, and spirit. This helps to perform yoga stretches and poses better and leads to a better and connected yoga practice. This connection with the self helps to let go of material connection and attain higher consciousness. The concept of nude yoga is also that if there is nothing between the practitioner and their practice, it is easier to concentrate on the poses and other things they do in life. This is the goal of a yoga practice- to strengthen the connection between mind and body.
- A plethora of health benefits: Naked yoga unlocks a series of physiological advantages including stress reduction, strength building, improving flexibility and stamina, increasing overall energy, enhancing cardiovascular and respiratory health, etc. Additionally, they experience improvements in their mental health because of more self-acceptance and self-love. Good mental health is conducive to better immunity and physical health.
- It improves sexual awareness: While the origin of nude yoga has nothing to do with sex or eroticism, practitioners invariably describe it as sexy. This sensual appeal is known to come from inner connection, confidence, and a feeling of being alive. Nude yoga facilitates practitioners to be happy, radiant, and comfortable the way they are. It also helps them to not be conscious of their bodies and their flaws. Once they feel happy and free, they connect better with their sensuality. It also helps them to feel better about their sexual identity.
- Improves intimacy and libido: Sexuality and sex are very different. While sex is an important and frequent aspect of human lives, it often becomes only about the body, mechanical and mundane. Becoming more comfortable with sexuality helps to improve intimacy with a partner beyond the sex. Once the sparks are alive, libido and stamina also improve. This is also a result of better body awareness.
- Increases kindness and compassion in the world: As nude yoga practice improves self-acceptance and self-love, it also reduces dissatisfaction with the world and thus increases kindness and compassion. As people are more kind toward each other, they embrace their differences and the world becomes a more peaceful place.
- Ease of movement improves yoga flow: Discomfort with clothes while doing yoga is common. Pulling down the t-shirt or saving the tights from rolling down or getting tangled in wide-legged pants can all be seen in yoga class. Nude yoga ends these distractions and helps to focus on the poses. There are also no more clinging clothes due to sweat or other uncomfortable movements to hinder yoga flow. Thus, nude yoga allows better movement and posture.
- Better self-awareness and mindfulness: Mindfulness refers to being more aware of the self and the surroundings. Focusing on breathwork and postures during yoga helps to increase mindfulness. When a person is nude, their physical sensations are heightened and, thus, mindfulness increases.
- Reduces stress and improves immunity: Nude yoga improves mental and physical health and thus strengthens the immune system. This can be attributed to reduced stress and cortisol levels and increased mindfulness.
What is nude yoga?
Nude yoga is true to its name. It involves practicing yoga poses without wearing any clothes. It can be performed at home or in a studio and unlocks a multitude of benefits.
What is the point of naked yoga?
Human bodies are designed naked. Why not practice yoga in the most authentic form? Eliminating clothes removes all hindrances from movements and stretches. It also helps to get a better body image by accepting flaws and appreciating the beauty and capabilities of the body. This improves self-esteem and also helps the person to be more accepting of the world around them. It improves sexual awareness and performance, apart from offering other physical and mental health benefits.
Are there any advantages of nude yoga over regular yoga in clothes?
Naked yoga helps the teacher to identify poor form or other mistakes easily. It also helps to be free of any encumbrances in the yoga flow. It helps to increase general satisfaction by improving self-esteem.
What happens in a group nude yoga session?
All naked yoga sessions are unique and the flow of the session depends on the instructor. Depending on the type of yoga poses, it can be either calming or challenging. The instructor usually informs the class about naked yoga rules and safety instructions. Once the briefing is done, the instructor signals to remove the clothes. The classes usually conclude with some social time where practitioners can choose to dress or stay undressed.
What should I carry to a naked yoga session?
An open mind and a yoga mat are important for a naked yoga session. Practitioners can also bring bolsters or other accessories to cushion themselves.
Are naked yoga classes for men or women?
All nude yoga classes are unique and can be either gender or orientation-specific or open to all genders and orientations.
Apart from being an exercise routine, naked yoga is also a game of beliefs and preferences. You can go ahead and try nude yoga if you are comfortable with the idea. Some classes also allow wearing clothes if you are new to naked yoga. You can stay dressed for some sessions, observe how classes flow and decide whether you wish to continue with naked yoga.