Naked Yoga Class: No Clothes Allowed

PHOTO: Vanessa Kennedy assumes a position during the Bold & Naked yoga class in New York March 19, 2014.

Is your yoga routine insufficiently liberating? The yoga studio Bold & Naked in New York City is pushing the workout frontier, offering classes where yogis strip themselves – literally – of all their insecurities.

The studio offers all-male as well as all-female naked classes, with co-ed sessions a couple of times a week. Meant to be sensual but “not sexual,” as the website description stresses, the workout is an endeavor to be taken seriously - or not.

“The naked classes verses the clothed classes are more fun,” says co-owner Joschi Schwarz as he lists the numerous advantages of naked yoga. “You don’t have to worry about pants or what you’re going to wear; you don’t have to buy expensive clothing.”

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Though Schwarz and co-owner Monika Werner opened the studio eight years ago, nude sessions were first offered two years ago.

It began with classes for men, among whom research indicated it was catching on the most. Then, at the start of 2014, co-ed classes were scheduled; followed by the more recent inclusion of all-female classes in the last month.

Monika Werner emphasized the particularly psychological benefits no-clothes workouts have for women: “You see real people and see that you don’t have to compare yourself to models,” asserted the yoga instructor.

Naked yoga (Sankrit nagna yoga) is nothing new: most commonplace in DVDs and web series, a few little-known in-person locales and even more rare established ones like Nude Yoga USA in Tempe, Ariz. But after some research on its popularity around the country, and Schwarz’s personal experience of its superior liberating effects, the yoga masters decided to help embolden that community.

Which seems to be the best part of the ordeal, this communal concept.

“We are all in the same boat,” says Werner. “You get a real sense of community that you don’t get in clothed classes.”

The yogis’ philosophy claims stripping your clothes is like taking off a mask. Then, “there’s nothing left” and practitioners are forced to be more in tune with their core being, which in turn allows them to open themselves to others.

“At the end of class, everyone is smiling.”

The duo has been approached about expansion in places as close as Connecticut and as far away as Finland and Sweden. While Schwarz and Werner say they’re definitely interested, they are focusing on finishing a Bold & Naked book first.

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