Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Naked Yoga Teacher’s Responsibility

Occasionally someone writes to me, an inquiry that feels important and universal.  I took Justin’s question to the Asana Exposed Blog.

Hi Isis,

I wrote you a while back about my background and nude co-ed Yoga in Wyoming. Well the group has started and has gone pretty well, except that that there have not been any females coming. The teacher is female, but the students have all been male…I have some female friends who are burlesque dancers who I have invited so maybe that will change.

The instructor won’t be here over the summer and I have volunteered to lead the class. I don’t have a Yoga Alliance certificate but have done Yoga for many years(about 14). I have been on the cusp of getting my Yoga Teaching Certificate for many years. I want to be involved with at risk populations and the also with people who want to do nude Yoga. I still struggle with shame and wonder what my true motivations are. I am in a pretty much sexless relationship and really would like to have more sex…and I wonder if I am getting involved in Naturism just for the thrill of seeing or being around nudity.  I don’t know. I just need a little guidance….

Do you have any ideas for me?? I will lead the group…that is not a problem…it is just the shame I feel and pain over never really sexually connecting with females…I mean I do connect in a sexual way…but I repress so much feeling it is hard.. anyway have a nice day.

Yours, Justin

Dear Justin,

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and share with me your process.  It means so much to me that your reached out and that you’re committed to offering naked yoga classes for your community.

First things first, get that teacher training.  A yogi who has a lot of experience does not necessarily a good teacher make.  The art of pedagogy is something that is taught and honed over a lifetime.  Sequence itself is something to spend years on.  There is so much more to think about in a class than just beautiful yoga poses.  You have a responsibility to teach each unique body in the room, and the extra responsibility of holding space for the shadow that group nudity can hold.  Students coming to your class need someone with facilitation and meditation skills as well as someone who is aware of their own internal process.  Have you been assisting your yoga teacher?  That’s a good place to start.  Also, Yoga Alliance is not the be all end all and you certainly don’t need to be certified through them to teach, but I recommend that you have a training certificate of some kind and an injury release waiver as well as liability insurance when you go down the road of teaching anything that could involve physical, emotional, psychological injury.  That said Shelby, what has touched me most in your email was your own willingness to be in an inquiry around what your motivations are for this class.  Most will never even ask themselves that question.  Your inquiry is heart touching and makes me feel safe in coming to your class as a prospective student rather than some going to someone’s class who has never taken an introspective inquiry and has no real connection to what their motivations are for teaching, particularly a nude class.  Your vulnerability and inquiry gives me a sense of trust.  I wonder if an assisting or co-teaching option is potentially available.  The most successful classes, retreats and events I have attended are ones where there are multiple space holders.  I was taking a naked yoga class with one of my former students two weeks ago when another student collapsed after standing up too quickly and hit his head.  I was able to tend to the injured student and support him in recovery while the teacher regrouped everyone and continued teaching the class.  Situations like this, while they are rare and exceptional, do occur.  Support and structure in situations like this need to be considered.

So – go for that teacher training you’ve been putting off, recruit another teacher, start assisting and get those waivers signed.  In the interium, I’d also try to continue attending and participating in other naturist groups and even being on some chat boards to gain perspective around the psychology of the community and your own personal process in exploring naturism.

As far as relationships sans sexual chemistry and connection, we all at some times in our lives go through bouts of celibacy by circumstance or by choice.  There’s an opportunity to release relationships that aren’t serving you and to begin courting the relationship to self.  Let your inner courtship support you in serving as an inquiry that you’re already in, including what is your relationship to nudism, naturism, your sexuality and its identity.  Perhaps it’s also a time to explore what turns you on.  Most likely, it’s not a naturist gathering.  Sounds like it’s time to ask ‘What does Justin desire?’  That’s a good place to start.

I’m really excited about your commitment to offering these classes and creating safe spaces where the practice of naked yoga can be explored and celebrated.

Let me know how everything unfolds!

Many Blessings!