Naked Yoga Group Strips Down to Get Zen
UPDATE, December 1, 5:30 p.m.:
In addition to NYFM, male nude yoga enthusiasts can now also practice through Skyclad Yoga Club, which meets Monday nights at Dorchester’s Savin Hill Yoga.
When it came out a few months ago that some of Lululemon’s super popular black yoga pants were see-through, yogis everywhere went into an uproar, claiming it was indecent exposure and an outrage. Bob Sparling, it’s safe to say, was likely not among them.
Sparling, a naturist, is the founder and organizer of Naked Yoga for Men (NYFM), a 13-year-old, Cambridge-based group that practices yoga completely and totally naked. Yes, naked. “Physically, the clothing gets in the way,” explains Sparling, “but mentally, it’s freer, you feel things better if the clothing’s not distracting you, you can concentrate on what your body’s doing.”
It may sound out-there, but naked yoga studios—some single-sex, some coed— are popping up in cities across the country, from New York to Las Vegas. NYFM is one of only two such groups in New England (the other is in Portland, Maine), but Sparling says it’s not as crazy as people make it out to be. “Once you try it, you’ll soon find it’s very natural and normal,” he says. “You’ll wonder why you ever thought of doing it any other way.”
NYFM meets multiple times a week, year-round, and employs three different instructors. Classes see an average of 12 participants. Sparling says that all men, gay or straight, are welcome as long as they’re 18 or older. “If men go to most yoga classes, they find that they’re vastly outnumbered by women,” he says of his decision to make the class only for men. “Men don’t always like to be in something where they feel like they’re at a disadvantage.”
And despite what you may be thinking, Sparling says the experience doesn’t have to be awkward. “I think the self consciousness is only for people who it’s their first time or first few times and then they lose that,” he says. “Once you’ve been there one or two or three times, you see no one’s paying much attention to you. Each man has his own struggle.”
Want to try your next warrior pose in the buff? Classes are $17 drop-in and beginner and expert yogis alike are welcome, but Sparling carefully screens all potential participants to make sure they’re not just coming to gawk, and he doesn’t release the studio’s street address publicly. If you’re interested, you can get more information through NYFM’s Yahoo or Meetup pages—just prepare yourself for photos.