Why I Teach Naked Yoga.

I started teaching clothing-optional yoga about six months ago.

My first day was a wild crazy day of awesomeness, probably on par with the wild crazy day of awesomeness I experienced the day I busted out of my mother’s womb. (If you are curious what that day was like—the day in which I encountered the thought, “holy shit I’m about to take my clothes off in a room of people who will also be taking their clothes off,” this is the article.)

Now it’s about six months in and I have had so many experiences that keep bringing me back into a room where I get to explore myself in a completely different way—simply because I allow myself to be seen fully by myself and others.

I want to open this dialogue not necessarily to promote naked yoga, but rather to discuss what keeps me coming back and how that changes my work in other yoga settings (you know, the yoga settings where people keep their Lululemon butt-lifting pants on).

My first point is generosity of spirit.

What I love most about the space of naked yoga is that pretense has to drop. We’re about to get naked together, there is no use in trying to suck things in or show off in this way or not talk to each other.

The generosity of spirit is immediately present because every person locks eyes—teacher and teacher, teacher and student, student and student—and locks into conversation driven by the feeling, “holy God, I’m about to let you see all of me. Let me ask you your name, find out what you do in your life and listen to why you’re here today.”

There is no awkward avoidance of talking, no darting eyes of discomfort, and certainly no maintenance of appearance.

Now I’m not saying that this is specific to naked yoga, but the experience of just getting to know the people in the room is heightened for me in this setting.

And getting to know the people in the room means that as we practice we laugh. As we practice we discuss how things feel. As we practice we stop taking ourselves so fucking seriously.

This is important to me because it means we acknowledge the fact that there are other people in the room practicing with us. If I wanted to just practice alone, then I would just practice alone.

The invisible line that separates student and teacher is completely obliterated, and the space ceases to be the place where I come and say a bunch of things and people just do what I say. The space ends up being an energetic discussion between all the people in the room, and we become fully and totally equal.

My second point is authenticity of expression.

If you had told me even a year ago that this is something I would ever even entertain the thought of for just five seconds, I would have said, “Go back to Andromeda where you came from, you foreign space creature, you!”

Being naked, even in my own solitude, was not something I was comfortable with.

Up until walking into that room for the first time, I was naked for only two reasons: (1) to clean myself; or (2) for the enjoyment of someone else.

Recreational nudity was not just something I didn’t do, it was something that was so completely outside my understanding.

Teaching naked yoga allows me to enjoy myself completely naked. It allows me to enjoy the physical beauty of a body that bends and lifts and breathes and beats and hums and drums. It allows me to enjoy my metaphorical nakedness—to strip bare and allow me to see myself when I take off all the many masks I wear, as it becomes impossible for me to take off my clothes and still be in disguise.

The experience of teaching naked brings me only good things.

That doesn’t mean that it brings everybody only good things and this doesn’t mean that I think everyone should do it.

I realize that I have a lot of people in my life who just don’t get why I would ever do this.  And I don’t blame them and I don’t think they’re missing something.

I understand that there are risks involved. I understand that my intention for teaching does not mean that other people walk into the space of naked yoga with the same intention. And I don’t expect them to.

In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter to me why other people come, because I trust myself in that space—I trust myself to take care of myself and pay attention to make healthy choices for myself when my clothes are off.

I never walk into that room amped about seeing a bunch of naked people. And I honestly don’t care if other people get amped about seeing me naked. If someone else walks into that room thinking, “yay, boobs!” that’s their own internal space to work from, and I don’t need to allow it to make me feel small. (Incidentally, I have never gotten the feeling that that’s why people come.)

And I totally get it—sexuality is confusing. Our global sexual climate leaves a lot of us sexually confused, misplaced and frustrated (to illustrate this, all we have to do is look at the catalogue of music videos my friend Miley Cyrus is putting out on the monthly).

I’ve spent most of my life being completely sexually confused, and paralyzed by that confusion to the point where my sexuality was completely disconnected from sexual desire, and was instead driven by cultural sexual expectations (as dictated by MTV, billboards, Cosmo, pornography and my sixth grade friend, Nikki).

I understand the tendency to look at naked yoga and feel sexually disgruntled by it, almost like we missed the day in school where we talked about whether nakedness was inherently sexual to get our braces tightened.

I personally do not happen to believe that nakedness is inherently sexual. And I honestly don’t give a shit whether or not you agree with me—so please, carry on with your opinions as you have been, as long as those opinions make you feel good.

I would like to become more naked all the time. And I would like to learn how to keep my clothes on and be naked as well.

So I will continue to teach naked yoga until I feel like it no longer makes me feel awesome. And I will stay present and connected and aware, so that I can bring the benefits of my nakedness to all the other places I show up to.

My yoga is about nakedness—with or without my Lululemon pants on.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise






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Dan Aug 23, 2014 10:44am

As a 46 year old, male, straight participant in co-ed and male-only clothing optional yoga classes, I will tell you that this only enhances the practice, taking away many distractions. When you're naked, you are not worrying that your clothes are too tight, too loose, too pinching, too revealing or in any other way too anything. There's no better way for you or your leader to judge your form. Once you've progressed from the entrance to the room to your mat, you've already shown everyone else in the room everything you've got, so you don't worry any further about anyone seeing anything accidentally. You've seen everything everyone else has, too, so you're not distracted wondering what might be hidden under someone else's clothing either. You are free to focus on what's important – your breathing, your asanas, your intention for your practice. And to the erection question, the answer is NO, if you're focusing on your own practice, and not fantasizing over whatever, you're not going to have one. Physiologically, erections need the psychological stimulus before the the physical response is going to occur and so if you come with the right intentions, it's not going to happen.

Mike Feb 18, 2014 1:47pm

Have any men attended your naked yoga class?
How did the rest of the class react?
Are there any 50, 60, or 70 year olds tuning into this?
Would they be accepted if they did?
How does this improve the yoga experience?
How will this bring anyone closer to enlightment?

Joshua is motified by the mere thought of hard-on during class. I'm old enough to conserve hard-ons, trying to enjoy each one as they come along. I should be so lucky!! A hard-on in class would be memorable for sure. But others may potentially find it threatening. This would bother me, as I do not want to be perceived as a threat to anyone.

Joshua Feb 9, 2014 9:37pm

(Oops)… personal and professional goals in life is to support a cultural awakening of integral sexuality that celebrates and nurtures this fantastic interdependent aliveness and expresses it in myriad healthy and safe ways. AND when I imagine being in a naked yoga class, which I will incidentally seek out in my community after reading your article, my only fear is that I will be mortifies to be standing in my tree pose with a big (depending on your definition) erection! I am incredibly curious if you have run across this in your classes and what “comes up” for you when you do? Thanks for living this experiment in truth and having a the courage to write nakedly about it!

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Brentan Schellenbach

Brentan Schellenbach is a yoga teacher, writer, adventurer and happiness enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Yoga In Your Living Room, an online platform that helps people develop a fulfilling home yoga practice and learn how to be happy in life, regardless of circumstance. Join her and her partner, Oli, for free Weekly Letters every Sunday, which feature happiness lessons learned from life on their San Diego hilltop, along with new free online yoga classes and blog posts on the nature of happiness. She also helps local yoga studios and teachers move their branding online to connect with a broader audience. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.