In the past, yoga was mostly associated with sun salutations, savasana, and serenity — a way to mindfully move your body and intentionally clear your mind. Nowadays, though, there are so many variations to the ancient practice, including goat yoga, aerial yoga, and my personal favorite, practicing yoga in your one and only birthday suit. Yes, you read that correctly, my friends. And believe it or not, the benefits of naked yoga are extensive, so prepare to strip down and tune into your body for a deeply connective and seriously empowering experience.
Maybe you're wondering how the simple act of subtracting a layer of clothing could actually elevate your practice and take things to a more powerful, meaningful level. I mean, it's just clothes, right?
Well, according to Helen Sian India, a leading yoga teacher and wellness coach, there's a lot more to naked yoga than a slightly chillier child's pose. "Naked yoga is raw, it’s vulnerable and sometimes terrifying, but it’s also empowering, freeing, and liberating," India tells Elite Daily. "How often are you able to really get in touch with the beautiful body you’re in, in a safe and nourishing environment supported by like-minded people?"
In yoga, India says, every body is celebrated for exactly the way it is. And naked yoga, she tells Elite Daily, allows everyone involved to make the most of the human body's magic in an even more powerful way.
I mean, think about how much you adjust your sports bra or tug at your tank top during yoga class at your favorite studio. I don't know about you, but it takes a lot of effort to remind myself to stop trying to "fix" things (aka readjust my outfit) and simply bask in the incredible power of what my body is capable of. That's why, India tells me, naked yoga can take a regular practice to a whole other level.
"In a typical yoga class, you’re encouraged to listen to your body and your breath and feel the movements — the hardest part of this is getting out of your head, [not] caring what other people think, and [not] questioning whether you’re doing it right," she tells Elite Daily. "When the clothes are gone, you’ve added a whole new element of concentration on the movement rather than what you look like — so it’s an incredibly powerful way to train the brain to focus and avoid distractions."
Shifting your focus to the fluidity of your body's choreographed motions, and away from any sort of aesthetics, sounds absolutely divine to me. But if you're still not sold, India suggests comparing the experience to being taught to imagine everyone naked when you're giving a presentation to make the crowd seem less intimidating. "Now you can really give that a go [and it's] wonderfully calming," she says.
Still, it can be tricky to work up the confidence to attend a naked yoga class, which is totally understandable.
According to India, taking that first step to actually book and go to a naked yoga class is always going to be the hardest part, "but when you’re there, surrounded by all the other beautifully naked bodies, everything feels easier," she tells Elite Daily.
To help you navigate that natural hesitance, though, India recommends working your way up to an in-studio class by putting on your favorite music at home and flowing sans clothes in the comfort of your bedroom. It might sound weird, but the wellness coach even suggests stripping super slowly, in steps, to ease yourself into the whole thing. "Practice without any top on at home first, then take your lower half off so you’re left with just your undies," she tells Elite Daily. "Practice like this a few times to see how you feel."
Or, she says, another great way to take baby steps into naked yoga is to remove one item of clothing each time you practice. This way, she explains, you're able to get used to how your mind and body react to such a raw, vulnerable situation.
BTW, it's totally OK if you never take your naked yoga practice outside the comfort of your own home. According to India, you should never pressure yourself to go to a studio for this if it's simply not your jam.
But, if you do feel like trying out a naked yoga class one day, India says it's best to set an intention for yourself prior to the session. "Whether it’s to go with an open mind, to learn something new about yourself, or to feel more at home in your body, make sure you can achieve [the intention] and [that] it makes you feel good," she tells Elite Daily.
I think the idea of feeling good is something we can all get down with. And at the end of the day, that's always the ultimate purpose of mindful movement — with clothes, or without.