Hot Nude Yoga?

From time to time there is news in the yoga world that begs attention, and I begrudgingly submit, and formulate a response.  The new trend of “Hot Nude Yoga” which is a growing phenomenon in some urban Gay communities is receiving attention from the “news” wires at the moment. The classes, which are comprised of mostly male students with a heavy emphasis on physical connection, are falling under scrutiny in both the gay and yoga communities.

The practice of Nude Yoga is being billed as a “sensualized tantric yoga practice,” with a limited amount of sexuality and a heightened degree of sensuality.  Many of the classes are focused on partner asana and personal connection with a limited focus on what is “yogic” about the practice of asana.  

Several responses to the classes, including one from the editor-at-large of Out magazine, a gay and lesbian focused publication, said that the classes were a far cry from yoga, and definitely seemed more like a loosely veiled expression of sexuality.  As far as stamping a label of yoga on the practice, this approach can be added to a long list of “practices” that have labeled themselves as yoga without very much foundation in the ancient science itself.

The advocates of Hot Nude Yoga say that it provides an opportunity to connect to others on an intimate level and a chance to appreciate the beauty of the human body.  This is the first place where I take exception to the purpose and the motivation of the practice being deemed “yoga.”  Yoga is not about connecting with others intimately or otherwise, it is about connecting with the deepest aspects of your Self.  Though our asana practices deal directly with the physical body, it is not a practice rooted in appreciation of the human form, but one meant to purify it and clear the path for deeper exploration.  If we are constantly using our yoga practice to connect outwardly, then we aren’t really practicing yoga at all, but instead are doing some wonderful forms with our bodies and at the same time reiterating the very distractions which we wish to eliminate.

But, lots of clothed yoga does the same thing. So maybe we shouldn’t judge.  What I will staunchly oppose about this practice, though, is it’s label as a tantric form of yoga.  I ask the founders and fans of “Hot Nude Yoga” what exactly makes this a “tantric” practice?  Are their philosophies or techniques of tantra yoga that are being performed in these classes?  Are their meditations, mudras, or Kriyas of tantric origin that are presented knowledgeably in a room full of sweaty, naked people?  Tantra is a vast an ancient science, only a sliver of which has anything to do with sex, so what makes these practices tantric?

I am open to the answers, as this one really has me perplexed.  I have never been to one of these “Hot Nude Yoga” classes, nor do I see myself attending one anytime in the future, but if there is a valid reason to call it Yoga, and Tantra Yoga at that, then I can open my mind and my heart to accept it.  I would just need a little help understanding that the connection is anything but superficial.  

Comments 10

  1. I agree with you on the fact that “Hot Nude Yoga” is not focusing on what Asana practice is usually about, self. I don’t think the “Hot Nude Yoga” classes really help the people connect with themselves or should it be considered yoga. The fact that other people are involved and it is a more sensual practice definitely turns me off from trying that kind of “yoga”. If I practice yoga I don’t want to be in a sensual place, I would rather focus on my self and letting go of everything.

  2. I am really creeped out about this article to tell you the truth. I don’t see how “partner asana” has anything to do with yoga itself. I feel if someone else was there, as a partner, it would distract me from focusing on myself, and that is really the whole object of yoga anyway right? I agree with the first comment that it completely turns me off at the very mention of “heightened sensuality”.

  3. Quite honestly I find this particular practice repulsive. The thought of hanging male genitalia in downdog is the kind of impression that would burn samskaras into the brain that would never, ever go away – One word Yuk!

  4. It”s just about sex, loosely veiled as “yoga”.I got an invite to one of these groups through a yoga website. They weren’t gay, but definately looking for sex, not yoga.

  5. There’s a difference between hot yoga practiced nude and Hot Nude Yoga. I practice the former at home. Clothes restrict movement. And someone explain to me how wearing sweat-soaked, clingly clothes is better than being naked?

    I understand that naked Yoga isn’t for everyone. But is fear and loathing of the naked body (which is just a vessel for the atman) really Yoga?

  6. I find it interesting that only one person out of six found this acceptable/healthy. I think the rest of your are a bit defensive in your offensive responses toward simply being naked around other human beings. Even if some classes turned out to be a gangbang/circle jerk, does that prevent the possibility of people consensually and respectfully doing yoga together while naked (and the gangbang/circle jerk could be consensual and safe.)?

    What’s wrong with people doing yoga naked? Why feel weird about your natural body in the presence of other people? I have a modicum of modesty and I wear clothes and cover up like the usual North American norms, but I go bare chested in the summer and I feel very free. We were born naked and i suspect that many of us were naked at times as children, so why do we have to be worried about our appearance or hide ourselves from others whom we’re comfortable with? I think American/hollywood beauty has skewed our levels of comfort and intimacy, where we must be perfect blond/skinny/clear complexion (and we are never completely good looking; there always are imperfections).

    News flash people – it doesn’t hurt, nor is it immoral to show some skin, or even be completely naked around those you trust. It might even be psychologically healthy if we could show a bit of nudity or allow ourselves a bit of pleasure in our natural forms. How can yoga agree with a practice that involves becoming more comfortable and intimate with others? That would help a person out in more ways then one!

    If you feel threatened or uncomfortable about something, admit it, but don’t knock anything you haven’t tried or that you are merely afraid to try. This article kinda disappoints me – Yoga Basics, I thought you would be more fair and balanced in your reviews!

    ta ta – J

  7. Oh yeah, sorry but I write a bunch when I’m impassioned! And I’m a psychology major who’s interested in yoga/bodywork/wellness/social health

  8. When we consider the role that clothing has played in society, it seems to be in direct opposition to the goals of yoga. YOGA reconnects your body with the vital energy we have. In our practice the act of joining your physical energy, your sexual energy and your mental energy with your LIFE and BODY makes you feel more human and more YOU. Being naked is to make you feel good about yourself, that you accept who you are and what you want to do. Sharing space and Kriyas with other people who are naked generates a unique energy that makes the exercises take more courage to perform. Nude Yoga alows you to accept your body, understand it and start by wanting to be closer to ourselves! The goal of yoga is to reveal the fullness that we are. For a true understanding of our human condition, a clear view of the purpose of life and appropriate use of knowledge handed to us by the sages, we can start back on a safe and successful journey to freedom. Tantra Kriya Yoga is a practice of Indu origin and was one of the first practices originally born out of the Kaula Tantra school over four thousand years ago. The aim of this type of Yoga is to reconnect your body to your three types of energy, sexual, physical and mental

  9. In seeing all these comments I just had to comment. In the spirit of ahimsa, I feel that in some essence we are forgetting the process of healing in the western way of thinking. And for that matter the eastern way of thnking when it comes to homosexuality. I am biased in this idea, being a gay man myself. I find acro yoga a very healing form of yoga because of feeling distanced from people as a whole and when being involved in the gay community it feels at times that many are simply looking or sex.
    That aside for the moment, as yogis we feel that expression is a person’s own rite of passage in entering and feel safe to express themselves. Should we not find joy in allowing a scared and often depreciated community express that they feel safe to be who they are within our community? we should not disregard another’s ability to connect to a real world before they can connect to themselves. Yoga is a process, and sometimes starting with connecting to the world around us is easier than connecting to our own emotions and what is going on inside. Once that connection to the outside world has been established and they feel that they are ready to work inward, then we express how to do that with a community that wants to have a well being much like anyone else. We shouldn’t discount hot nude yoga as a way to have sex, as more of a way to safely express emotions that they otherwise don’t know how to express. It’s not always just about having sex.
    As hot nude yoga is not for everyone, it gives certain groups of people a way to feel that there is hope in the world and sometimes, as stated before, that they are safe, that they are loved for being a human and not a specified orientation. We must remember always that yoga is not purely about asana or even mostly. Asana is the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more beauty to yoga than the asana, its healing the world within and without us. I will give that it is a western practice and that it should encompass that part of it. I hope this brings light to a darkened subject, namaste.

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