The latest style of yoga to hit London is different not for its moves, but for its dress code — leave it ALL in your locker. The World’s Alex Collins tries out naked yoga.
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MARCO WERMAN: I’m Marco Werman. This is The World. There are many ways to practice yoga. But our London producer Alex Collins found one he wasn’t yet familiar with.
ALEX COLLINS: In the basement of a central London New Age shop, a yoga class is about to get underway. It’s for men only. I join a group of half a dozen guys sitting cross legged in a semi-circle. We wait for our instructor Ryan to start the class. Warrior, cobra and sun salutations. Ryan tells us we’ll be performing moves that are standard in Hatha yoga practice. Normally this would be no sweat, but this time I’m feeling slightly on edge and it’s probably down to the fact that we’re all doing this class in the nude. If I felt self-conscious about being naked, I certainly didn’t have much time to reflect on it. After a few deep breaths, vinyasa flows begin. We Londoners can thank America, not India, for this new form of yoga practice. It started as an underground fad in New York in the late nineties, but it has taken time for this form of yoga to arrive on British shores. A fact that Ryan believes is partly cultural.
RYAN: I went to a class in New York with Mr. – - and this feels so strange. And I thought we need some of that basically, we’re quite inhibited here in London, not like the Americans. And I just thought it would be a really good thing to do, but to do in the right way.
COLLINS: And Ryan states that practicing yoga naked is a way to get closer to our own true consciousness. That philosophy was shared by the other men in the class who shall remain anonymous.
MALE VOICE 1: For me it’s just a way to kind of leave a lot of the outside world, including clothes as a representation of that, at the door.
COLLINS: Hopefully hang-ups about one’s own body are also left at the door. Ryan says another motivation for the practice is that it allows participants to develop a greater acceptance of one’s body. As much as I thought Ryan’s musings were good in theory, I wondered how he reacts when people suggest to him that yoga is the last thing on the naked participant’s minds.
RYAN: They assume that it’s sex thing. I’m not saying it’s not sexual in feeling, because it’s very sexual in feeling, but it’s not a, no sexual act ever has taken place. It’s a yoga class.
COLLINS: As we get back into our clothes, I asked other members of the group if they felt embarrassed when the told friends and family about the class. Rather than covering their participation, some were only too keen to extol the virtues of the practice.
MALE VOICE 2: Well I do tell everyone that I come to this class and it’s always interesting to see their reaction and especially from girls because I describe exactly what happens and the level of fitness of everybody and nice lighting and the good music and the sexual energy and everyone’s jealous. Everyone would love to do it.
COLLINS: As I walk out into the London twilight, I reflect on the experience. I could see that clothes could slow me down, but the jury is still out on whether less is more. For The World, I’m Alex Collins in London.
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