August 3, 2011

Why Yogis are Okay with being Naked. ~ Dani McGuire

As yoga clothes start to resemble lingerie ads, nude yoga calendars are being printed and I hear chatter of my students discussing their nude beach weekends, I start to think,

what it is with naked yogis?

Is it that they want to show off their yoga buns? Or because we are just the lost generation of hippies or those born to hippies?  I consider myself a very free spirit, but the thought of baring all makes me a little flush in my cheeks. Am I a prude? And why are yogis so comfortable with bareing everything?

This brings me back to an interesting experience I encountered in my early 20s with a guitar teacher of mine. Let’s call him Harry to protect his identity. I began taking guitar lessons at the request of my partner who was hoping that we could form a rock band together. Although I was feeling too old and insecure to begin learning an instrument at 24, I put my fear aside and went for it.

My partner got me the highest recommended yoga teacher in town, electric guitar and marshal amp and half stack . Each week when I showed up for my lesson, I felt anxious and exposed, due to my own lack of confidence. As the lessons progressed, I began feeling more comfortable, and it seems, Harry was too.

The next week when I showed up for my lesson, Harry was the one who was exposed (totally naked) this week. After a moment, an apology for forgetting about my lesson and a quick change, we proceeded as usual. I thought to myself, Wow, who would have known he was a nudist!

Next week, same thing. This time it was laundry day.

I left vowing to never return, but being coaxed into it by my boyfriend, who didn’t fully believe me (and would have much rather had the Janice Joplin, than the Seane Corne type), naïve me, went back a third time.

Needless to say, I didn’t go back again, which, I am certain, is the only reason I am not a famous guitarist today.

Turns out that Harry wasn’t a yogi or a nudist, just had a weird way about trying to pick up his guitar students.

I quit playing guitar after that, because in my avidya (illusion) I thought it was Harry’s way of telling me I was not a worthy guitar student, and I had no rhythm. I have never been one to judge others, only myself.

Thankfully, Yoga has helped me turn away from this insecure and judging mind, and feel more comfortable in my skin. Maybe not to the extent of sitting naked on the beach, although I would like to think I will one day… soon.

As for the nude yoga classes, well they just seem like they would be as awkward as a naked guitar lesson. So, again, I ponder, Why are many yogis comfortable in the buff?

I am sure it is different for everyone, and clothes are really just another form of attachment anyways, but I have had students express to me the awkwardness they feel post savasana (deep relaxation) bliss, as if they had woke up in a room full of strangers without their clothes on. This is the point, in our yoga practice, where we pause, look deep into each other’s eyes, and bow our heads as we recognize our unity.

Here we sit much more exposed than when we are nude. Through the process of our practice, we shed the layers that we put on ourselves or that others put on us that lead to our fears and insecurities. We come in to this world naked and pure, like a crystal clear wine glass, and as we get passed around to people and situations in life, the imprints began to cover our sparkle.

Yoga helps to wipe these smudges away and if we are lucky, we can catch the glimmer that is there… In that moment as we sit looking into each other’s eyes we are uncovered, natural, crystal clear, fully exposed.


Dani McGuire is a yoga teacher and asana addict that loves Love, Life, Family, Food, God, and, of course, Yoga. “Since I am unable to quiet the mental chatter and control thirst for earthly pleasures I live, write, and laugh and my human-ness.” Dani leads yoga workshops and teacher trainings, and is the founder of Pranayoga Foundation, a nonprofit teaching yoga to people with cancer and chronic illness. For more about Dani check out danimcguire.com and pranayogafoundation.org.

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