“And so this is the place from which to re-emerge and begin again.” – Liam Cyfrin
Day 29 Naked Yoga Challenge. Savasana. Corpse Pose.
Dear Naked Yogis! It is my pleasure to announce a new women’s naked yoga class beginning in Leominster, MA on Wednesday nights 6-7:30pm. The class is for women and is $20. RSVP is necessary for location as space is limited. There’s more information available HERE.
Women’s Naked Yoga is a beautiful sacred and naked yoga practice for women. There will be a focus on vinyasa yoga and body positive affirmations as well as Taoist energy cultivation practices. Our naked yoga practice will focus on spiritual aspects of the divine feminine, loving self-care of our bodies and the intimacy and bonds of female community. Email Isis: sensualshaman (at) gmail to register.
For all of the male yogis, I will be offering a gender inclusive class once a month as soon as a large enough space is secured for the practice. Thank you for your inquiries.
I met Kimber at a film shoot for a documentary that included naked yoga. I rolled out my mat beside him and could tell immediately this a man who had a relationship with with Earth. I was quiet for a few minutes simply lying next to him breathing, like lying next to fertile Earth. “Are you from Vermont?” I asked him. He looked taken aback. “Yes,” he answered.
“I can feel the land in your body,” I told Kimber. I had become increasingly familiar with Vermont land energy on visits to see my spiritual mentor Suzanne d’Corsey who lives in Vermont.
Below is Kimber’s Story ~
I was a young boy in the hills of Rochester, VT in the sixties. This was a time of great civil unrest, but also a time of soul searching in the form of free love and free spirit. Near our home was a hippie colony called The Fisk Farm. I believe it still exists today. Stories of carefree nudity as told by adults in hushed voices were very intriguing to a ten-year-old boy. I missed the whole Woodstock phenomenon by about two years. I was curious – free love and social nudity. How could a young boy not be?
A bit about my background: My ancestry is deeply connected to the land I farmed and lived on. My family moved to Vermont in the late 1700s from New Hampshire. We’re farmers. I’m named after the Kimber that was my great great great Grandfather. It never occurred to me to do anything other than be a farmer. My ancestors are farmers. It’s what we do, who we are. I attended college at UVM as an Animal Science major. It’s what my father and my father’s father and his father’s father did. It’ hard manual labor being a farmer.
Just in these past few years, however, things have changed. The farm is no longer sustainable. We’ve decided to sell. The cows are gone. There is a “For Sale” sign on the land. Farmer… it’s becoming an identity of the past. I can now say that’s not what defines me –being labeled “farmer.” Something new waits on the horizon.
My life was very predictable as a farmer. It was in my blood. The evolution out of the farmer role began sort of by accident, really. A few years ago my wife got into a car accident. She hurt her neck and shoulders. For a while she went to a chiropractor until our insurance ran out. She said the massage part of the treatment was useful. I thought how hard could it be, I work with my hands all day, so I started to give her massages on a regular basis. Next Christmas, under the tree was a massage table. A gift from my wife, of course she’s on the receiving end of it. I really enjoyed practicing massage so I took a few classes at the community college. That led me into studying Reiki and eventually attending massage school, from there yoga. What I learned from massage school and Reiki, I was able to apply to the animals on the farm. I did Reiki on the new calves. My neighbors have had me work on their dog. One of my neighbor’s children has a terminal illness so I volunteered to work on him as well. This transformation of identity was gradual. Much of my identity was wrapped up in being a farmer. It’s all I’ve ever done and all my family has ever known. My wife’s accident, however gave me a new entry point into another career path and way of being. There’s a lot of weight we place in this world on labels and identity. But I’m not afraid to let the label of ‘farmer’ go. Maybe I’m a healer. When I give back, energy multiplies. It heals me by healing others. This journey started when I turned 50. Eight years later the doors are still appearing. Each thing I do opens up another door. Of course it’s my decision to open it, but each time I do opportunities keep happening. I try to keep my hands in it, give something back, get involved.
A guiding practice through this transition has been naked yoga. It was one of those doors that opened and I walked through. Something of the mystery and intrigue of the naturist lifestyle that was whispered about when I was a boy found its way home to my own body. It’s a bit of the hippy in me coming out for expression that I just missed in the 60s. It also brings me back to the simplicity of being. I release the clothes. I release the identity. My first group class of course there was some nervousness as in anything new. But there also was an excitement, like Hurry up! I can’t wait to get my cloths off! There was no fear. I was like the heifer that couldn’t wait to get the halter off. FREEDOM. I believe nudity is a path to the soul. This soul journey led me to explore other clothing optional paths – Naked Church with Isis and Rev. Charmaine, Rock Lodge Naturist Resort, naked body painting in Times Square with Andy Golub.
I’m ready to embrace a new identity. Naked yoga and naturist events are helping me release the old one. I’m proud of my heritage. The generations of family have given me a foundation to support anything I attempt. And I look forward to the future. There is no fear in releasing my identity as farmer. Life is good. The skill set that farming and the experiences it lead me to, have much value. One week after the farm equipment auction, I was hired as a foreman on the construction job site at a medical center for the next two years. Most days that job will end at 3:30, giving me time to apply my massage skills. Time I didn’t have before. Next fall I plan to complete the Reiki Master course. I hope to some day take an Esalen massage course at Findhorn, Scotland. There is a lot to do. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s behind the next door.
I love when I underestimate the amount of beautiful souls who want to get naked and celebrate their holy body and sensual spirits. Such a beautiful Holy Body Retreat in NYC this past Sunday with Rev. Goddess Charmaine, myself and our beloved community. Naked Yoga, Naked Church, Trance Dance, love and blessings to our body temples and sensual spirits.
Holy Body Retreat with Naked Yoga, Naked Church & Trance Dance!
This Sunday 10am-2pm!!!
Come feel powerful, holy, wild, sensual, free, and totally you
Join Rev. Goddess Charmaine & Isis Phoenix for
Clothing Optional Holy Body Retreat!!!
Freedom Movement Trance Dance
Holy Body Worship “Naked Church”
Group Bodywork & Healing Circle
Sunday, September 29th, 2013
10 to 2pm
This is a Clothing Optional Event
Our bodies are miracles, beauty, complex ecosystems, walking art – each unique, holy and beautiful. Gift your holy body and sensual spirit to a nourishing and celebratory afternoon with your soul family. Come nourish, rejoice and celebrate with yoga, dance, naked church and healing bodywork!
We welcome you to a community who loves, honors and celebrates the holy, sacred and celebratory union of body and spirit.
If you play an instrument and feel led called to bring it we will incorporate sound and music healing into Naked Church and Group Bodywork.
Sunday, September 29th 12 to 4pm
638 E. 6th Street
Ny, NY 10009
$39 in advance
$49 at the door
Questions or to reserve your spot now!
Isis Phoenix: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Goddess: email@example.com
Please bring your yoga mat, a towel and blindfold.
Anya’s story is one that has touched and moved me so deeply. It hits close to home for me as a woman growing up with the challenges of body dysmorphia and confusion around food as nourishment. Her path is fearlessly transparent and deeply self-inquiring. I am so grateful for all that she has chosen to share here. My hopes are that when we tell our stories and lay ourselves bare we create an entry point of unconditional love and universal transformation for the highest light and love possible. Thank you for taking the time to read.
Love & Blessings,
Occupation: Yoga Teacher, Counselor
I’m just starting to put myself out there as a teacher of naked yoga. Naked yoga is not just about taking off your clothes. It’s about taking off your belief systems and, more importantly, realizing just what beliefs you’ve been wearing.
There was a lot of duality for me growing up. I grew up in Italian Jewish family and food was a big part of our lives. It was an eateateat culture, but in this culture it was also expected that you had to thin. In my family, food was a form of both reward and punishment.
From my parents and grandparents, I felt judgment and disdain for people who were overweight. If I wasn’t thin, I wasn’t good enough and no one would love me. How does one eat and be thin?
With those dualities in me, I became bulimic. I used to go from McDonalds, Burger King, 7-11, eat as much as I possibly could and then throw up. The binging numbed my sense of not feeling good enough. I was a train wreck with food for most of my life because of the bulimia. I never felt in control over what I would eat and was in a constant cycle of binging, purging and not eating. I was like a heroin addict when it came to eating. As I look back, there was a lot of undoing to do, to create peace and contentment and acceptance within myself. I have a tremendous amount of compassion for people who are caught up in food addiction.
The practice of yoga has been a wonderful tool on my healing journey. This next step of practicing nude yoga has made me feel more comfortable in my body than I ever have.
Yoga is a process. Nude yoga is a process. I discovered naked yoga sort of by accident. One day, I happened to do yoga in my home yoga studio before getting dressed and discovered how different the practice felt without clothes on. It wasn’t a planned experiment. It just happened. And instantly I felt more open in my body, more deeply connected to my inner self, and more able to radiate my energy. It started organically and it then began to gradually happen more regularly. I found I continued to be drawn to go into my yoga room to practice without clothes. There was a deeper drawing that my body and soul wanted to experience in this practice.
What yoga does is give me a new awareness of my body. It gives me a space in which to attune to myself, and part of that is noticing what foods don’t work for me. Yogic principles of mindfulness help me recognize what my body feels called to eat and predict how I will feel after that. I didn’t learn those lessons on the first try. It took a lot of time and awareness and patience. I have a lot more awareness now but know I still have a long way to go.
Cultivating my relationship with the inner witness to my body’s needs has become one of the strongest lessons I’ve learned through yoga. There are different qualities to this witness. I’ve learnt to see her unconditional love, her acceptance and her great sense of humor. Because I spent so many years with negative thoughts and emotions controlling my mind, the inner witness took a long time to emerge from her shell. But now she has, I can see that all that negative programming is not who I am. I can choose what’s right for me in any moment.
No one knows your body the way you do. Each day the body is different, each year it evolves. What we need to eat and how we need to eat changes as well. There’s no expert other than yourself and your body. That lesson also took some time to sink in. At first, I attempted to heal my food addiction through consulting experts in the field. That basically turned my addiction to bad foods into an addiction to raw foods, vegetarian diets or veganism. I was just as mentally sick on these diets as I was eating McDonalds. I don’t think being vegan or a raw food-ist is the answer if it’s just a swap of one addiction for another.
Just as my yoga benefited from removing my clothes, my relationship with food was strengthened by removing labels, food belief systems and ‘right diet’ concepts so I could focus on my own personal balance. This was so important in the process. Now, I eat raw food on some days and cooked meat on others because I can feel what my body needs and wants on a day-to-day basis. I can choose what’s right for me in any moment. Eating as simply as possible works best for me, but I’m attuned to my needs. I have become empowered to be my own body’s expert.
This empowerment grew alongside the increased body consciousness I found in naked yoga. For me now, teaching nude yoga is about self-study as well as deconstructing imprisoning belief systems. You can’t get out of a prison if you don’t know you’re in one. Most of us don’t know it. We’re just there. The first step is finding what imprisons you. Come to where you are in the present moment and love that, whatever it looks like. I know sometimes it’s hard to love things that seem ugly to us, but begin to love yourself just as you are in the present moment, no matter what it looks like. Put your own needs ahead of pleasing someone else. Practice self-awareness and self-study.
Each person comes to the mat with the work that they need to do. When teaching naked classes, I want to create a space where each person can receive their work, let go of imprisoning belief systems and thought forms, and find their unique truth, so they can feel truly comfortable in their body with or without clothes on.
Anya is currently teaching Nude Yoga at Release in Asbury Park. To inquire about Anya’s New Jersey based naked yoga classes email firstname.lastname@example.org
For private naked yoga sessions with Isis Phoenix in New York City email: email@example.com
I met Lloyd a few weeks after I wrote to tell him he won the ‘Share your naked yoga story contest‘ and to ask him when was a good time to collect on his complimentary naked yoga session, the gift for writing such a great story. Meeting him has changed or perhaps confirmed my perspective on many things. How do I introduce you to Lloyd in a way that will best capture his essence… Lloyd is in that rare race of Man-Gods that are on the planet. His embodiment of the divine masculine is a hybrid of philosopher, warrior, medicine man and lover of the Goddess. On meeting, at first glance I was instantly taken with the thought – Wow! This is a full sized man! His physical frame was similar to what one might see in the marbled statues of Greek and Roman deities at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His body is solid like iron and wood but also present is an unmistakable heart energy that permeates every cell generating warmth and openness in his energy field. I learned on our first meeting that he had indeed been a warrior and proudly served his country as well being a published author, physician, massage therapist, research scientist… he had many incarnations so far in just this one lifetime and they didn’t feel anywhere close to being complete. We sat in my living room and spoke for a while on relationships, naturism and spirituality before we moved into our yoga practice. When we did practice together it felt very much like practicing alongside a demigod, huge beautiful sculpted feet, a frame so tall that in his sun salutes his hands brushed the ceiling. It was asking a New York City apartment a lot to hold space for this man.
The basic questions that guided this essay were – Tell me the story of your body and why you chose it? What is yoga to you? Why practice naked yoga?
Occupation: Research Scientist, Physician, Writer, Philosopher.
Norse and Slovak DNA directed the construction of my body 60 years ago after the union of my father’s seed with my mother’s ready egg. That early body suffered involuntary circumcision, a diet of processed and preserved foods, and obligatory church on Sunday dressed in the most uncomfortable clothing available. To compensate I spent a lot of time outdoors, at least until TV became popular enough to replace fun.
With the Sixties came new and interesting ideas from the East, yoga among them. My puberty dawned with the Age of Aquarius and my budding sexuality neatly parallels my education in yoga. Both began with a book.
Neither sex nor yoga should be learned from a book, but that was all we had. In my world depictions of sex and nudity were harshly censored. Today a young person can find pictures of naked people and sex acts. In 1965, we couldn’t. Sex education used no realistic illustrations, let alone that most powerful of all learning tools: the hands-on demonstration.
The anxiety I felt during Mr. Boydston’s 7th grade health class description of the process is still vivid. “The male inserts the penis into the female vagina. He performs a rocking motion until ejaculation occurs.” Insert tab A into slot B? Rocking motion? My god! I’ve been doing it wrong! What if I can’t get it right when I have to do this for real with my wife? What if she laughs at me?
It wasn’t until I saw my first explicit sex film in 1970 that I realized that sex would be fun and easy. And wouldn’t it have saved us all a lot of angst and bother if Mr. Boydston could have just shown us a clip in the first place?
My first book on yoga was fascinating but had no illustrations. It emphasized breathing and meditation rather than asanas. When I chanced upon a magnificent book by B. K. S. Iyengar, richly illustrated with actual photos of the yogi himself, I finally had something tangible to imitate. The breathing and meditation would come later, but a picture of an asana is worth a thousand OMs.
In college – at a Catholic university no less – I took my first yoga class the same year I advanced from sexual observer to participant. The teacher wove breathing and meditation into the asanas and the parts became whole. The teacher explained that yoga should be done in a sacred, calm place (we met in the chapel). She recommended wearing comfortable, loose clothing but then said, “Of course, it is best to wear nothing at all.” To this day I regret withholding the obvious question: “Then why aren’t we wearing nothing at all?”
Indeed, why do we wear clothes? For protection and decoration, to be sure, but why modesty? Is the body evil? Is self-disgust virtuous? Why do we hide for shame and punish people for the heinous crime of being seen naked? Why is there even a word for naked as a special condition? Why should activities naturally done naked require a special moniker? There are “nudists” but no “clothists”. There is “skinny dipping” but no “swimsuit dipping.” Why do we say “naked yoga” but not “clothed yoga?” It should go without saying that yoga is done naked unless otherwise modified.
Naked yoga has helped me in some measure to repair the damage that society’s body shame inflicted. I now not only feel completely normal when naked, I feel that way in the company of others. I now regularly enjoy mixed nude recreation such as the sauna, hot tubbing, skinny dipping, clothing-optional beaches and nudist parks. When everybody has their clothes off, it’s like nobody does.
But naked yoga offers more than mere recreation. The inward focus of yoga opens awareness. The constant chatter of the external world, mostly through the eye and ear gates, crowds out input from the nose, the tongue, the skin and the internal organs. That smothering of the senses is made worse when we truss our bodies up, preventing normal contact with air, sun and water. The wash of sensory feedback is necessary for our grounding, our orientation in the physical world. Indeed, a sense of self could not be possible apart from the framework of the environment, the non-self.
So naked yoga is the optimal way to enhance sensory feedback. It strengthens self-awareness and enriches the experience of social nude recreation. With the practice of naked yoga I’ve resolved over recent years to spend a little time out of doors naked every day. Others have joined me, one by one.
On an evening nude swim in a beautiful but public lake where nudity is technically unlawful, one of my fellow spirits noted that even if we told our colleagues what we do, they still wouldn’t believe it. We are exceptional – healthier, brighter, stronger, more beautiful – because we make decisions and act where others won’t. Courage defines us.
We are of the new old religion, the religion of Olympus. We are demigods, human children of divine origin. Not disembodied spirits; we are flesh, blood and bone that give rise to a brain that supports the soul, fanned by the spirit – the prana – of life-giving oxygen. Our cosmology is inverted, bottom upwards. The spirit arises from the soul, produced by the brain as an inseparable part of the body. Naked yoga links all three in perfect harmony. Naked yoga is the spade with which we dig ourselves free from the mud, wash ourselves, stretch our limbs and revel in our beauty.
But it takes courage. Just because you’re a god, doesn’t mean you don’t have to work at it.