Yoga the Way It Is Supposed To Be Done

Updated: Jul 29, 2019

Naked yoga
Yoga is much more than accomplishing strange postures. It is about body and breath awareness and appreciation. There is no better way to do it than naked in nature.

I recently began teaching yoga at one of Minnesota's Nudist club's regular events. As a yoga teacher who regularly teaches at a studio that is steeped in the ancient yoga traditions, the naked yoga experience has been exceptionally fun in a variety of ways. But, before I get into that, a bit of naked yoga history.

Naked yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Some believe it was originally THE way to practice. One passage in the Bhagavata Purana, one of the oldest Sanskrit writings, reads:

A person in the renounced order of life may try to avoid even a dress to cover himself. If he wears anything at all, it should be only a loincloth, and when there is no necessity, a sannyāsī should not even accept a daṇḍa. A sannyāsī should avoid carrying anything but a daṇḍa and kamaṇḍalu.

The idea was that the body is sacred and part of our connection to the divine. Covering it was considered a sign of an under developed spiritual center.

When Alexander the Great reached India in the 4th Century BC he brought historians from Greece with him who wrote that Indian yogis practices aloofness and "different postures – standing or sitting or lying naked – and motionless."

Naga yoga
The Hindu Naga or Naked or Digambara or sky-clad Sadhu at the Gangasagar fair transit camp near Outram Ghat in Kolkata. Photo by Biswarup Ganguly

It was Judeo-Christian religion that brought body shame to the practice of yoga. Along with that it put a damper on key aspects of yogic tradition. The practice of yoga, after all, is not really about accomplishing strange postures. It is about body & breath awareness and appreciation. Body shame is counter to - and gets in the way of - appreciation.

Perhaps more importantly: yoga is also about connecting one's self with others and the world round you. Therefore, practicing yoga naked in nature with others is the purest expression of the ancient practice you can find.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of naked yoga spreading across the USA. I welcome it wholeheartedly. Coming together in our most humble and vulnerable state to practice the ancient art of body awareness and appreciation is rewarding physically, psychologically and spiritually. And, frankly, it is also a lot of fun. I encourage everyone everywhere to give it a try. The more uncomfortable the idea is for you, the more you may have to gain by giving it a try.

Finding peace in discomfort, after all, is the way of the yogi, which is one of the reasons why in yogic practice it does not matter if you can touch your toes or balance on your head. The only things that do matter is that you try, focus on your body and your breath and surrender your ego. By doing those things you can find enlightenment.


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