Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Naked Yoga Did For Me

Guest Post by Mukunda

Naked yoga probably sounds weird and crazy to many but if you take the time to understand it (and maybe even try it!) I bet you will see how it has the ability to be very beneficial. It was (and is) to me. The first time I tried it I had only done yoga on one or two occasions because I had to for high school gym class. Being naked in front of total strangers was not something I would ever consider doing. But when I found out naked yoga existed I thought this might just be that outside-the-box remedy I was looking for to help me overcome all the insecurities I felt about my body.

As a boy growing up playing many different sports I always felt like I was too small and too weak which sent me down a self destructive path full of drug use, depression and suppression of the negative feelings I had about myself and my physical appearance. It wasn't until I discovered naked yoga that I felt comfortable enough to embrace my body and feel good about the way I looked.

One of the biggest problems that many people face today is the issue of body image. An unsettling amount of people around the world suffer from unhappiness and low self-esteem because of how they feel about their body. Many women feel they aren't skinny enough or pretty enough to the point where some develop horrible eating disorders. A lot of men suffer from body image issues as I did.

After my first private naked yoga session I felt better than I ever had in my entire life. Seeing my body free of clothes, performing all the poses made me look at myself in a totally different light. I realized yoga was something that naturally came easy to me. This really boosted my self esteem which was something I needed more than anything at that time in my life.

After a couple more private sessions I went to the group class. I knew I was ready when my private teacher kept suggesting that I come to the class. I was still really nervous about taking off all my clothes in front of six strangers but I eventually developed this feeling that I had nothing to hide and that it would probably be a great experience to share the practice with others instead of being afraid of people judging me and doing the same to others. I had another eye-opening experience.

Unlike many classes at yoga studios around the world, the expectation and competition was completely non-existent. The class started out with everyone going around the room introducing themselves and stating what they wanted to get out of the class. Everyone had their own reasons for being there but the one theme that existed amongst everyone was acceptance. No matter what you looked like, how old you were, how many poses you could do, you were automatically accepted as part of the group just by being there. More than two years after my first naked yoga class, the close knit, non-judgmental, family-like atmosphere is always present, even with new people present.  It's really an amazing thing to experience and to be a part of.

If you are reading this you may still think its weird or gross or crazy but that's OK. If you're reading this as someone who suffers from body image issues and wants to experience this I say go for it. What do you have to lose? Maybe try it in the privacy of your own home first and see how you feel and what thoughts come up when you see your body in ways you never have before. Before I tried naked yoga I felt like I looked too small, too skinny and much younger than other guys my age. Naked yoga has really helped me feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin.

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Mukunda is a yoga teacher and music enthusiast who has trained with some of the best yoga teachers in the country. He spends most of his time chanting sacred mantras and studying bhakti yoga, the yoga of love and devotion.

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