I was listening to an NPR discussion the other day about naked yoga, "Has yoga strayed too far from its roots?" and it got me thinking: What is the point of practicing yoga—naked?
The bare-it-all and bend movement started back in the 1960's (well that makes sense) but hit the scene here in NYC in the late 1990's, when someone started "Midnight Yoga for Men." It became an underground cult hit popularized after it came out fully in Time Out New York magazine. Since then more and more people let it all hang out in weekly sessions—which reportedly attracts more men than women.
I wonder though, does naked yoga really move you closer to the "truth" by stripping down to nothing and letting go of all that may be holding you back? (You mean besides my favorite Lululemon outfit which I personally think makes me look pretty damn good.) Can't I just close my eyes to take me there?
What do I imagine when I think of a naked yoga class? Besides a lot bare butts and well, er, bare everything, I imagine that not everyone has a Gisele-like body. In fact, I would assume that most people who practice naked yoga have some sort of crazy killer confidence. I think that when you have this kind of confidence you're really okay with every flaw, bump, roll, and any imperfect perfection that makes your body yours—which means you might find yourself sitting in a sweaty room full of other perfectly perfect naked people on a hot Saturday morning. Now, we all know where our minds go when we think of a room filled with lots of spiritual, sweaty beings—but no, I must believe there are plenty of nonsexual reasons for why one might be practicing yoga in the buff. I just have yet to understand it. I can stretch my mind to understand that the stripping of ones clothes maybe helps you strip yourself of any negativity surrounding you and this might be some sort of healing. But do I agree? I'm still not so sure...
I guess the real question is, do you practice yoga for its physical benefits—like improved strength, flexibility and posture—or for the mental health associated with going zen daily? Naked yoga proponents say the body is a temple with which body and spirit come together when fully disrobed. And many participants find this form of yoga as a certain type of freedom that enables them to go outside of society's norms and liberate themselves from rules that others have set for them (is it taboo or politics?). While some people are motivated by the idea that they truly accept their body and all its imperfections if they can partake in the buff (okay, like I said I think you've just got great self-esteem)—but I'm still not convinced of any true benefits in taking a session like this. Can I really concentrate on perfecting my tree pose if I'm not sure what someone behind me really thinks about my bare bum? Does this really mean I'm self-conscious...I never thought I was!? So will I feel more aaahhh after stripping and stretching?
Please sound off if you have ever tried naked yoga and can tell me why it's something I as fitness editor should try!