The Down and Dirty: What you really want to know about Naked! yoga
So. You’ve never done a naked yoga class, and you’ve got questions. Maybe you’re not a “naked person.” Maybe you *have* taken a naked yoga class in the past, and you didn’t feel comfortable, safe, and respected. Or maybe you’re worried about unwittingly making a naked yoga faux pas. But you’re still intrigued and you’ve come here for answers. Congratulations! You are a thoughtful human being with reasonable concerns. We are here to allay your fears and give you all of the sexy transparency you deserve. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Why naked yoga?
I’m afraid I’ll be distracted by...you know...naked parts! What is the particular etiquette of naked yoga?
No worries! Is it really that big of a deal? You’re going to see people’s genitals. It would be impossible not to. So it depends on what you mean by “distracted.” We’re not cool with people blatantly staring, so don’t fixate your gaze on someone’s stuff. But it’s perfectly natural to look around (you probably will anyway if only to figure out the next pose as a beginner). We consider the fact of seeing one another’s bodies an intrinsically positive aspect of naked yoga. Everyone has body fat somewhere, people don’t really look like magazine covers, and even if you think someone looks “ideal” they 100% have body insecurities just like you. We’re all there to be supportive and work through some shit together.
When it comes to etiquette, again: Don’t stare. The point of yoga is to go inward, to focus on your own practice. You won’t be perfect at doing that, but try.
Also: The teachers often cue drishtis, or eye focus points, so pay attention to those. They’re important, and they go with the pose. When the eyeballs are wandering, so is the mind, so try as best you can to focus your gaze somewhere that’s not a human for your own balance, clarity, and focus. You’ll also learn quickly that you have too much to do to think much about the naked bodies around you. So focus on your practice.
After class when we’re socializing, if you’re talking to people, look them in the eye like you would in clothed settings, and be respectful. Don’t touch anyone without their consent. Read more about our consent policies in our FAQ.
What happens if I get an erection? What happens if I see someone’s erection and it makes me uncomfortable?
From our FAQ page: Erections aren’t actually as common as you might think during the Naked! movement practice. However, whether they occur randomly or are sexually inspired, erections are almost always interpreted as the latter. If you get an erection during a group exercise, just ignore it. If you’re uncomfortable continuing the movement with an erection, you can take a Child’s Pose until it subsides. If you get an erection during social times before or after a class, please don a towel or clothing for coverage. No big deal.
However, we don’t think erections are shameful! Part of body-positivity is accepting/celebrating arousal and the many functions of the body. Unfortunately, due to our society’s association of sexuality with nudity, a person walking around with an erection tends to sexualize an environment. Some of our students, especially women, have expressed discomfort over interactions after class with people who have had an erection, so we ask erection-havers to don pants after class in order to prevent these unwanted interactions. It’s similar to our cruising rule: we’re not going to police your mind, but we have rules in place to limit the physical or verbal expressions of the mind (even if the erection isn’t a result of arousal). Like our “bottoms rule”, it’s not about equality; it’s about equity. It’s most important for us that we create a welcoming space for people who may feel threatened by erections, especially those new to social nudity. If it makes you uncomfortable to see an erection, then look somewhere else! Focus on your own practice.
Will a teacher touch me to make adjustments to my pose? How can everyone be sure their physical boundaries are respected?
We have a strict policy on consent. The instructors will ask for permission before touching you during class and give you the opportunity to opt out of corrective touch. Understand that consent is an ongoing process; you can change your mind at any time, and any answer is completely acceptable. Consent is also a conversation with yourself, so know your own boundaries first so that you can communicate them to others effectively.
If you know you definitely don’t want to be touched at all, feel free to tell the instructor before class. If they forget, they’ll ask you anyway and you can just say no.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, and nothing is ever perfectly “safe.” If someone touches you without your consent, tell the instructor so they can deal with it. We take that stuff seriously.
What’s the mat situation? Does everyone bring their own? Isn’t being naked involve being a bit more...intimate with the mat?
Check the class description for each class on the Events page to see if the class offers mat rentals. Our main studios do, but sometimes we do pop up events or try out a new space. For all events, we strongly encourage you to bring your own mat and towel, as we only have a limited number of mats available to rent, however some spaces have the option to rent mats for $2 (cash).
Most people bring their own mat. We recommend you bring a towel for slippage purposes because you’ll probably sweat, and in the winter it’s nice to have something to drape over you for the last resting pose in case you get cold. Yes, you’ll be intimate with the mat in that it’ll be in contact with your genitals, but if it’s your mat, nbd. We rent mats but require people put a towel or T-shirt down between themselves and the mat. Also, we clean them afterwards with a natural disinfecting spray. But if the idea of renting a mat still squicks you, just bring your own!
Isn’t this just another glorified meat market? What if I feel uncomfortable during class because of another student’s actions?
In conversation with Naked in Motion regulars, we’ve heard often that students feel more objectified and ogled at their workplace, on the street, and at the gym than at Naked in Motion.
Straight from our FAQ: Our Community Rules state, “We define cruising as asking people out on a date or looking for a hookup. Giving unsolicited comments about your opinion of someone’s appearance also counts as cruising (e.g., telling someone that you find them attractive). This applies during events and on our online groups before and after events. Please err on the side of caution.”
We don’t want to be the dating police, and certainly if two people met in a Naked in Motion class, became friends through the class, maybe became friends online (consensually), and decided to date, well...Mazel Tov! In this scenario, two (or more) people have consensually decided to engage in a relationship outside of class and didn’t result in a cruising complaint. However, this isn’t something we can really address officially because we can’t govern it and it's so nuanced. We can instead say that cruising isn’t allowed, and if someone tells us that they feel uncomfortable because you randomly asked them out or gave them unsolicited comments, we’re going to ask you to leave and not attend our classes again.
This includes your instructors (they’re people, too). It’s equally imperative that the instructors feel comfortable to teach the class and that they have the ability to set and maintain their personal boundaries. The instructors observe the right to ask anyone to leave and ban from the classes anyone who breaks any of our rules, including our cruising policy.
We’re strict about this because we want to create the safest space we can for our classes, and strangers asking strangers out, especially in a Naked! environment, can make people feel unsafe. There are other nude events that allow for singles to mingle, and you can check those out on your own.
We feel pretty confident that our community rules and standards of behavior create a pretty safe space, but nothing is perfect. If you’re uncomfortable by another person’s behavior, let your instructor know immediately or email us.
Is body odor an issue in naked yoga class?
Ever been to a gym? It’s totally stinky there, too. Clothing doesn’t mask smells. In some spas, clothing is removed because it actually carries more bacteria. So yes, you may smell body odor, but no more than you would at a clothed yoga class.
How physically close are we to one another in the class? Is the set-up any different from a typical yoga class?
The setup varies on the space and the amount of people who show up. We try to limit the attendance to reflect a comfortable amount. At our main studio in NYC, the most we’ll allow is 27 people, and it’s a little tight, but definitely not mat-to-mat. We play with the arrangements: if the class is smaller, sometimes we’ll just do a couple rows facing the front, but for our crowded classes, we do 4 rows facing each other for optimal space management. For poses that would make you get into someone else’s space, we have you stagger so you can avoid the people around you. You should just avoid each other’s personal space in the same way you would a clothed class.
I’m pregnant. Do I belong in a naked yoga class?
From our FAQ: Only you can decide what’s best for your body. If you have any questions about doing yoga, Pilates, or any exercise while pregnant or post-pregnancy, you should consult your physician before coming to a Naked in Motion class. Upon attending a class, tell the instructor when you check in that you’re pregnant or postnatal so they know to offer the appropriate modifications. In general, our teachers will try to give instructions for modifying exercises to meet different needs, providing options to decrease or increase the level of intensity of certain postures or exercises. Most importantly, listen to your body, and allow yourself to rest whenever you need a break.
In a time of a division, make space for CONNECTION. Naked! Partner(s) Yoga, Mon. 2/13 at 7pm http://ow.ly/pUpy308EPsl Many thanks to my awesome participants for the photo! #valentinesday #nakedinmotion #nakedyoga #partneryoga #naturism #nudism #bodypositive #freedom #jointhemovement #nycevents #newyorkcity #realbodies
Do you do couples yoga? My partner and I have a tantric practice and we are interested in naked yoga as an extension of that practice.
We do partner(s) yoga special events occasionally. There’s one coming up on Saturday, July 29, 5-7 pm! Check out our Events page and scroll to that week to sign up!
For our partner(s) yoga, Willow will teach a Vinyasa-inspired yoga class, exploring partnered postures designed to help each other deepen the poses and support the stretches (don't worry, there won't be any fancy partnered acro yoga). She'll guide you through an exercise to connect with your partner(s) before class, a vigorous Vinyasa standing sequence to warm up, and soothing seated stretching postures, showing you how to give gentle assists to your partner to increase flexibility. The class will end with a relaxing "partner" meditation (about 75-80 minutes total).
We encourage people of all sexual orientations and genders to attend. We also welcome partnerships of more than two (poly triads or quads). You don't have to be romantically involved (friends can certainly attend together) but all partners should be very comfortable touching each other (non-sexually), as the assists will require physical contact.
Is there music? Chanting? Do you offer different kinds of yoga classes (i.e., Hot yoga? Power yoga? Yoga with pilates?) Do different teachers have different styles?
We don’t have a standard about music, but we usually don’t play music. There’s a lot to focus on, and many of us feel that music can be a distraction. We don’t chant either, except for maybe a few OMs. We try to keep it as even-keeled a place without too much “spiritual” chanting. We don’t offer hot/power yoga right now but we do offer yoga and Pilates combo classes, and sometimes Willow teaches a pilates-only class. Every teacher has their own style, but we usually teach along the Vinyasa side. Willow’s yoga style has some elements of Ashtanga, and she mixes the postures with classical Pilates exercises.
Ready to join the rebellion? Sign up for a class today!
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