Students shed inhibitions, clothes for naked yoga
Published Saturday, March 3, 2012 10:31PM EST
Studies have shown the many health benefits of yoga, from stronger muscles to lower blood pressure and a calmer state of mind. Now devotees are touting a new kind of yoga class to boost body acceptance: naked yoga.
Nude yoga classes have been sprouting up at yoga studios across the United States and Canada, including at Follow Your Bliss in Toronto.
Instructor Dee Dussault, who leads an all-female class as well as a session for couples, said the concept allows students who are embarrassed to be undressed in front of others face their fears, and then let them go.
"I have some people who have never done yoga before and feel safer taking it in this environment because they are afraid of the standard studio culture," Dussault told CTV News.
Dussault said she makes the setting comfortable for her students by dimming the lights and encouraging them to close their eyes and focus on their own experience, rather than their classmates.
One of her students, Tanya Dunn, said when she told her friends about the class, the response was: "I want to try it."
For those who may be shy but are keen to get buff in the buff, there are always DVDs they can follow in the privacy of their own home.
Jennifer Kries is the creator of Yoga Undressed. She advises students to "suspend judgement and give it a try."
"To those people, those folks who start off by saying ‘eww' or ‘yuck,' you know I meet them with great compassion," Kries told CTV. "I say ‘it is important for you to suspend judgement and give it a try.'"
Kries said she believes naked yoga allows students to "liberate themselves from negative body image." She also calls the practice empowering because students can see their muscles at work.
Shedding their Lululemons may make some practitioners also shed their inhibitions, and Dussault says she hopes to see naked yoga "take off as a trend."
But others find the idea that there are benefits to practicing yoga in the nude a bit of a stretch.
Cynthia Funk, co-owner of The Yoga Sanctuary, said the "ick" factor of naked yoga may be enough to turn people off.
"I think the cleanliness factor is something that one would have to be aware of, always washing your mat before you practice," Funk told CTV. "I would not want to put my private parts on a dirty mat."
She said yoga studio owners would have to consider issues such as blacking out windows and locking doors so the curious public cannot see or get in to the class.
Funk said she doesn't see any particular health benefits to practicing yoga in the nude, and it may serve as a deterrent to students who don't want to take their clothes off in front of strangers.
"I do not think that naked yoga will take off as a trend," she said. "I think it is a small fad at the moment. It may attract small groups of people, (but) I don't think there will be 25 million people practicing naked yoga."
With a report from CTV's medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip