As a yoga instructor, studying the philosophies of yoga is essential. The philosophy of yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali is the ancient moral systems (written around 200 A. D) that we as yoga instructors and practitioners of yoga are to practice. As mentioned in this website, http://www.expressionsofspirit.com/Yoga%20Philosophy.htm:
“The first two limbs of the philosophical yogic tree that Patanjali describes are the fundamental ethical precepts called the yamas, and the niyamas. These can also be looked at as guidelines of universal morality and personal observances. The Yamas and niyamas are suggestions of how we should deal with people around us and how we can optimally shape our attitude and behavior. The attitude we have toward people and things outside ourselves are the yamas, how we relate to ourselves inwardly are the niyamas (pronounced nee yamas). Both are mostly concerned with how we use our energy in relationship to others and to ourselves.”
- Ahimsa: (non-violence) compassion for all things.
- Satya: (sincerity), truth seeking.
- Asteya: (non-stealing), Don’t take advantage of others.
- Brahmacharya: (Moderation and self-control with sex), not necessarily celibacy but we are to use our sexual energy to enhance our spiritual connection without causing harm to someone.
- Aparigraha: (non-grasping), letting go of anything that may cause to attach to anything material and detracts you from your Higher Power.
Knowing this, we Yogis, are supposed to have open hearts and open minds. So why is it that when I have asked to teach nude yoga in some studios I was turned down quickly with disgust?
The reason: NUDITY IS A SOCIAL TABOO.
It is linked to sexual activity which is seen as perversion. If yoga is linked to perversion, it loses its pure message. Nudity does not pervert yoga; it enhances it.
Nudity allows me to practice Aparigraha. Having no clothes removes physical attachment to this society and opens up my mind and spirit to the Universe. It allows me to gain compassion for my body which in turn allows me to be more compassionate in general. I and those who practice nude yoga are misunderstood because others cannot detach themselves from society’s definition of perversion or judgment. Yoga helps us to detach from prejudices and societal norms. Yoga helps us to connect to each other as one. I find nudity to enhance such ideals and experience. So when you are ready to experience increased enlightenment, remove your clothing and do yoga.