Tag Archives: spirituality

Nudist Equity – Why Providing the Option to Wear Bottoms in Naked Yoga for Women and Transfolk is a Political Statement.

Isis of Naked Yoga Alliance interviews Willow, founder of Naked in Motion

Nudist Equity – Why Providing the Option to Wear Bottoms in Naked Yoga for Women and Transfolk is a Political Statement.

 I had the delight of interviewing Willow of Naked in Motion, who is currently teaching naked yoga and Pilates classes for all genders in New York City.

Tell us a little about yourself.

nimwildI go by Willow. I’m from a small conservative town. I was a dancer and a performer so movement has always been of interest to me. I’ve been teaching Pilates for over two years and have recently added yoga to my teaching repertoire. The conservative environment I grew up in was filled with body negativity and sex negativity. My mission is to change the way people feel about themselves to make the world a more peaceful place. It’s about starting a dialogue between oneself and one’s body through movement. We block these lines of communication through clothes to shield our insecurities and also belief patterns that assert that we’re not enough. This is about opening that channel back up again to find self-compassion.

 What inspired you to teach a naked class?

I began co-teaching with a male partner of mine. Now I do it by myself. I never thought I would ever do anything like this, but I’m a very sex-positive and body-positive person. I don’t too offer much of the spiritual side of yoga and I don’t require anyone to be on any specific level. You don’t have to be fit, be thin or even able-bodied. There are all kinds of people and they say how helpful this practice is for them. This is more than yoga. It’s about a personal journey you take with yourself. It challenges messages that the media gives you, challenges fears. This practice takes the journey inward and you have an opportunity to really learn a lot about yourself.

Did you grow up in a body-positive or nudist-friendly household?

I grew up in a household with people struggling with their weight, and there was a lot of body shaming around this issue. It was hard to watch family members be so hard on themselves. I happen to be a skinny, white woman, but it’s almost entirely due to genetics, and I recognize the privilege in this. Because of my upbringing, I have great empathy for those who are struggling with feelings of shame about their weight, and it fuels my passion to create safe spaces where they can learn to love themselves. If you berate your body all the time, it’s not going to cooperate. Our culture has a fat phobia. We are fed so many images of thin, in-shape photoshopped people who are pretty and we think in our minds that that’s the only thing that is attractive and acceptable. In my classes, there are all different body types and we all have rolls and wrinkles. I think a class like this makes one less judgmental of people in one’s everyday life – especially around body size. I have more compassion for people and myself after having taught this class, and I know many of my students feel the same way.

What is your current class schedule?

I teach a weekly class in New York City and will be adding more and I have a monthly women’s and transgender class.

nimbluemainWhat can someone expect when they show up to your naked yoga class?

I attract people who are comfortable with social nudity and also attract newbies who are scared or nervous. In order to create a safe space, I make it clear to people what is expected of them. You come in and you still wear your clothes. I go over the rules so people know what’s expected of them. I ask for consent before touching a student to make a correction in their posture. Identity within the class is kept confidential. I discuss erections so people know what to do, and also to make them less of a big deal. I inform people that this is not a space for cruising or to pick up a date. Sobriety is a rule. And everyone gets naked as a whole. We begin dressed and then we disrobe together. I do some meditation followed by yoga and some Pilates. The classes are candle lit and are in low lights. The windows are blocked off for privacy.

What is the current demographic that is showing up at naked yoga?

The demographic is heavier on the male side. It can be up to 40% women but tends to rest more in the 25-30% area. More men in general show up to naked events. There are reasons why women are typically more timid about coming to my events and afraid of social nudity. Sexual abuse, objectification and assault are unfortunately a daily reality for many women, so the lower female participation doesn’t surprise me at all. I was a little scared when I first tried it myself and I was the teacher.

Is nudity required in your class?

Full nudity used to be mandatory, however, women emailed about the possibility of wearing bottoms. After a while of teaching it occurred to me that I want more people to experience this practice, not just the people who are privileged enough to feel safe enough. When I offered the possibility that women and trans identifying folks could wear bottoms to class for any reason, the gender ratio became much more balanced. There are some issues that I think should be examined in the nudist community around this. Women have been kicked off of nudist beaches for wearing bottoms when they are on their periods. Cisgender men cannot know what it is like to menstruate. This mandatory nudity rule felt like part of the patriarchy trying to be in control of women’s bodies. Women and trans folk can wear bottoms for any reason. It is required that cisgender men are nude for class.

If nudist communities continue to exclude women on the basis of menstruation, we are never going to get close to a less patriarchal society. I also invite transgender people to use or wear anything that they need to affirm their gender. I’ve got criticism from men about these new rules. I want to explain myself to men and be the source of education about this issue. Everybody wants more women to be present in these classes. When there are more women, people feel safer. It is in everyone’s best interest to have more women present in class. When women take off their tops, they are already participating in nudity. When men take off their tops, they are not. You can see male joggers without tops and it feels normal. If a woman were to be jogging topless, it would not be seen as normal, she would be seen as nude. The bottoms policy gives the message to people after centuries of oppression that I am allowing you to experience this is in the way that makes you feel safe. There is nothing equal about the experience of a man and a woman naked in a space together. Nothing. That doesn’t exist. My bottoms rule is about equity, and it gives a marginalized and oppressed group tools that they need to have a successful experience. Equity in this space gives those marginalized groups more privilege and something to make them feel safer. It doesn’t mean that more people wear bottoms in class. This new rule says, I understand where you are coming from and I support you.

Tell me about a memorable experience of a class that’s touched your heart:

A woman who had recently lost a lot of weight wanted to reward herself by coming to class. At the end of class, she told me that she used to hate her breasts. She thought coming to class would be about celebrating her weight loss, but being forced to look at her breasts for the entire class, she confided in me that maybe there was nothing wrong with them after all and she could grow to love them.

Who do you hope to attract to your classes?

I want to attract the people who want to grow in their compassion or empathy. Everyone has some kind of limitation – physical, mental, emotional. This practice provides an internal dialogue with your body to figure out what’s going on. It’s an opportunity to figure out how to communicate with your body on your journey. I want to attract people who never thought they’d ever come to a social nude event, people who want to challenge themselves and explore the possibility for compassion and empathy.

 What are your hopes and dreams for Naked In Motion?

I want this to be a national phenomenon. Pushing all kinds of buttons, converting people who never thought they would do this kind of thing. I want people to learn about themselves. Our motto is “Join the movement” – we’re moving our bodies and we’re also a political movement. Success for me is starting a movement where more people of all genders and all body types are more comfortable and willing to try it out. Success for me is more people ready to take an internal journey, ready to listen to themselves and take care of themselves.

What advice would you give to someone who is curious but also nervous or scared about trying naked yoga?

You are the perfect candidate. If you are nervous, or think you’re too insecure or not something enough for this class, then you are the perfect person to come and experience this class and this practice. This is a place for everybody to explore that fear and self-criticism with kindness. Maybe you’ll feel less alone. We all have limitations and self-criticisms.

Where can people who are interested find out more about your classes?

http://www.nakedinmotion.com

“ASANA: Images of Awakened Kundalini, Nature and Prayer”

ASANAI was recently made aware of this book “Asana: Images of Awakened Kundalini, Nature and Prayer”

Day 8. “And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Kahlil Gibran The ProphetDay 8

Naked Yoga Challenge Day 8. Janu Sirsasana. Head to Knee Forward Bend.

“Naturism: Green Acres and Beyond” Interview with Kimber: Farmer turned Yogi

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?

Kimber Sukhasana 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.

Kimber Updog

Holy Body Worship

"As above, so below"

“As above, so below”

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.

Clothing Optional Holy Body Retreat with Isis Phoenix & Rev. Goddess Charmaine in NYC

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!!!

Naked Yoga

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

ABC Sanctuary

638 E. 6th Street

Ny, NY 10009

$39 in advance

$49 at the door

Questions or to reserve your spot now!

Isis Phoenix: sensualshaman@gmail.com

Rev. Goddess: thesensuousmystic@gmail.com

Please bring your yoga mat, a towel and blindfold.

Read More about our mission here!

          Goddess Blessings

Rev Goddess Charmaine Website

  Isis Phoenix Sensual Shaman

Register Here

https://www.eventbrite.com/event/7988079561

Naked Yoga: Apparently what was practiced on Mt. Olympus!

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?

Lloyd Name: Lloyd

Occupation: Research Scientist, Physician, Writer, Philosopher.

Age: 61

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?

Lloyd 1970s Naked Yoga

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.

Lloyd Warrior 2So 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.

~ Lloyd