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.  


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