NUde Yoga in Toronto
I guess those yoga pants aren't needed no more! You guys in the gta come up with anything to get the women naked or what!When news broke that the recent breakup of celebrity couple Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian could be traced back to Kim’s participation in a nude yoga class, the obvious question was: There’s such a thing as nude yoga?
Yes, it has been around for years but it has been slow to catch on in Toronto.
Dee Dussault, who has instructed regular and tantra yoga from her Follow Your Bliss studio, has instructed a few women-only naked classes since October.
Dussault says she has tried to organize co-ed classes but there was never a real show of enthusiasm.
For the uninitiated, participation in a naked yoga class can be confusing. Is this about flexibility or foreplay? Is this exhibitionism or exercise?
The concept of nude yoga was born out of the need to dissociate fashion and trendiness with yoga. Dussault figures women may have been too shy to sign up for a co-ed class. And men may worry they’re being perceived as “perverts.” Men have also expressed concern they might get an erection during the class and wonder how the rest of the class might react.
“It’s natural,” says Dussault. “You can’t worry about being aroused. We don’t aim for that but it could happen.”
Undaunted, Dussault says she’ll try again in 2012.
“It’s sort of common in the U.S.” she says.
Dussault tries to play down the “sexual” nature of the nudity and focus on the “sensual or erotic” benefits. “We lower the lights and use candles. It’s more flattering,” she says.
Dussault says her clients report elevated self-confidence as they learn to celebrate their bodies — in all shapes and forms.
The benefits of nude yoga are entirely psychological — not physical, say the experts. But if the nakedness becomes too distracting for a participant, it can actually diminish the experience.
While yoga as a fitness movement is experiencing enormous popularity, offshoots of it — including cannabis yoga, tantric yoga, hot yoga and naked yoga — remain niche.
Cannabis yoga encourages participants to share a joint before hitting the mat. Hot yoga heats the room to unbearably high temperatures. Tantric yoga explores sexuality. And naked yoga is just how it sounds.
Now, in the spirit of accuracy, Kim and her sister Kourtney were not naked in the televised yoga class — their instructor was. As well, in “reality” the instructor is not known in New York yoga circles as a naked yogi. Ralph Craig, the 22-year-old Ashtanga instructor and a practising Buddhist, agreed to play the role for the season premier of E!’s Kourtney and Kim Take New York.
Dussault understands that nude yoga has been most enthusiastically embraced by gay men, particularly in the U.S. There are DVDs available for at-home nude yoga instruction, and there are even naked yoga retreats for gay men.
In Toronto, Mac Gunter has instructed courses for the gay male naturist organization TNT! (Totally Nude Toronto). Gunter is a freelance instructor and an avid fan of yoga but confirms he won’t go out of his way to get naked.
“Although I am not a naturist, I am comfortable being nude on a beach like Hanlan’s Point and I did attend an all male nudist yoga retreat a couple of years ago . . . the only time I’ve done so . . . and found that I was comfortable in that setting.”
According to Gunter, gay men who are attracted to nude yoga get involved because they are naturists to begin with. He also believes gay men have little reason to sexualize yoga because, generally speaking, they have access to sex — if that’s what they’re after.
“Why go to a yoga class for that purpose?” he asks.
He will admit, however, spontaneous erections are a reality, particularly among young men. Even without stimulation it happens. So when the yoga includes partnering, “it could become very sensual in nature simply because we now have intimate contact.”
Even a yoga instructor can’t stop human nature. “What happens after class is entirely up to the individuals involved, but in class a sexual response would be totally inappropriate.”
Dussault says her classes are divided — half have experience being naked in public and the other half experience this for the first time.
“Some people take to it naturally,” agrees Dussault. Perhaps they’ve been to a nude beach or a hippie music festival.”
She begins the class slowly. “We start with a meditation fully clothed. Then every few postures they are invited to remove an article of clothing — T-shirts or pants. It’s up to them and how comfortable they feel. The more courageous of them make the others feel safe.”
At the end of class, Dussault asks participants to pair off — facing each other and looking into each other’s eyes — and then look at their partner’s body.
Dussault wants women to feel at ease and therefore stays away from postures that might be embarrassing — poses where their legs are stretched open, for example. “Some of them are already self-conscious enough.”
Dussault says naked yoga is gaining respect, particularly because it is being approached with a mature attitude. “It’s not just a gimmick. They aren’t doing it because it’s risqué or titillating.”
Rather it involves a deeper commitment, she says. “There is a radical aspect to it — a sense of being a political activist, a libertarian with few boundaries. No one’s identity is based on their costume.”
That’s why Dussault hopes naked yoga never goes Hollywood.
“If it gets too trendy it will be bastardized, needlessly sexualized. If you’re using it to get horny — it loses its spirit, its authenticity.”
So would you try naked yoga? LOL!
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