Hailing from the hippy world comes a new style of yoga. We're calling it yoga in-the-buff and that's right you do it naked. The style is become increasingly popular in the US and is also gaining a foothold here in Australia.
We spoke to nude yoga instructor and natural therapist Gregory Barnes about the steamy new fitness trend. Barnes has been running weekly naked yoga sessions in Canberra for nearly three years and says that the form is rapidly growing in popularity.
"What I experience in naked compared to clothed yoga classes is that the nude yogis are far more open to interacting with each other and forming friendships and social networks. Perhaps because trust grows out of shared vulnerability," Barnes said.
"By removing our clothing we also remove the signifiers that denote social standing and socio-economic status, which creates a 'level playing field' where all can feel 'equal'. Whilst undressing, there's also a sense of peeling off layers of conditioning and attachment to our social and professional roles which gives us an opportunity to experience our true selves," he added.
According to Barnes, the fitness movements remain the same but pants down and shirts off are essential.
Apparently some classes in the US involve teaming up with partners, which means that dangly bits are well in striking distance of one and another.
While it's known to be a great self-esteem builder, most nude yoga devotees insist the classes deepen their yoga experience, not about the sexual mood within the room.
According to Barnes his classes are run in private climate-controlled rooms so the yogis are comfortable and at ease with their surroundings.
Some benefits Barnes says clients have achieved from nude yoga include:
• increased cardiovascular health;
• enhanced muscle tone and flexibility;
• improved balance and coordination;
• ability to deeply relax your mind and body;
• stronger immunity to diseases;
• more freedom of movement while practising yoga postures
• increased sensuality and "aliveness";
• becoming more comfortable in their own skin;
• overcoming fears of being naked around others; and
• forming new friendships based on trust and mutual respect.
"Nude yoga gives increased freedom of movement; it helps us feel more sensual and alive and it challenges us to confront and get over any insecurities we might have about our bodies," Barnes says..
"People link nudity with sex, however, that kind of behaviour is not allowed in my classes. We're a friendly bunch, but not that friendly!"
Hippies started nude yoga back in the 1960s and gay men jumped on the bandwagon in the '80s and '90s. Now the let-it-all-hang-out yoga style has become increasingly trendy (mostly still within gay communities) with more and more men becoming hooked and taking their clothes off.
Females shouldn't think they can get in on the action, though, as these classes are for men only.
In the US, naked yoga studios are now operating in full swing in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, MSNBC.com reported. They're also growing in popularity here in Australia and can be found in Canberra and Sydney and not surprisingly in Byron Bay where many are not shy about taking their clothes off.
For more information on this yoga trend or for those in Canberra who wish to sign-up to a class (only $18 for an hour and a half session) e-mail email@example.com.