NYC Naked Church by Sensual Shaman Isis Phoenix
Naked Church Guest Blog By Isis Phoenix
Isis’s Naked Church:
Naked Church – First, a note from Felicity of YNA: The countdown begins… only 14 days until Nude Year’s Eve! It’s that crazy time of year again.. “the holidays.” December is the kind of month where you blink and then it’s January, fresh with colder temps and the realization that you barely thought about what your New Year’s resolutions could be. Well we have one suggestion for you already: be naked more often. Don’t forget you have a body there under all those winter layers, crying out for some air and admiration! ;) The best part is, you can start this resolution at the moment the clock strikes midnight with us on December 31st, for Nude Year’s Eve! Get your tix here
To appease your unbridled anticipation of this naked event, I will be featuring guest blogs over the next few days from our Nude Year’s Eve sponsors! In their own words they will talk about what they do naked (a variety of things) and how they are involved with NYE 2012.
To begin, here is a personal and thoughtful post from Isis Phoenix Sensual Shaman.
“I’ve been perusing my computer today, looking through old photo shoots of when I first began Naked Yoga and dared to bare my asana on high-rise buildings, on Gunnison Beach, on a third story roof in the meat-packing district, all in the name of freedom, celebration and love. As I sifted through more than three years of old photos, I was shocked at my very visceral response to them. Some quite literally took my breath away. At some point I remember being afraid to look at photos of myself practicing yoga naked, and so I hid them deep in the belly of the hard drive on my computer. But today, something made me look and when I did, I saw such unmistakable beauty present in this practice that I had been previously unavailable to fully witness.
Naked yoga has been one of the most beautiful and self-sustaining practices of my life. As a woman who holds space for this practice, naked yoga, more than anything else, has assisted me in moving beyond the ‘body-image bullshit’ that has accumulated throughout my life. This practice drops me into one-ness with my body, releasing the bully of the mind the and the judgment of the ego. The naked yoga practice has been a constant in my life for the past three and a half years, a flowering perennial that continues to bloom, sustain and resurrect itself each year. Of course when I brought my movement to NYC, I was sure I was the first to trail blaze this movement. But sadly, I’m reminded there is no original work, as there were already a few naked yoga circles going in NYC. One was a men’s group called Hot Nude Yoga in Chelsea that catered to primarily gay and bisexual men. Another was located in Brooklyn, male run and male attended, but allowed women. And then there was a group already led by a woman named Britt McMurray who had taken over naked yoga classes from a woman named Wendy Tremaine. I collaborated with Britt for a short time until she left, and then opened Phoenix Temple soon after to hold ongoing classes for Nude Yoga. Out of the Phoenix Temple a powerful group of women began to teach naked yoga. After a few years I passed the torch on teaching group naked yoga classes, but continue to offer private sessions for those interested in exploring and integrating their life-changing practice into their lives. A dear colleague and friend of mine who attended the first women-only naked yoga class I taught at the Phoenix Temple now has her own naked yoga movement that I am very proud to support ( http://nakedspirityoga.wordpress.com/ ).
As far as being naked in practice, not only has embracing my body unconditionally helped heal my own shame, but it’s made me more at ease in the world. I find there are so many more layers I have to work through when I attend a clothed yoga class – not just layers of clothing but also of karma keeping me separate from the experience, the group and the yoga.
This practice has been so dear to me and the press has been forthcoming and also, surprisingly filled with grace. I am amazed at how this practice transforms lives. Over the past five years, there has been a stunning lack of ill-intentioned people showing up to practice naked yoga. Most are earnest, nervous, with a desire and longing to continue to unravel their own societal shame of conditioning. They are looking for a moment of stillness and freedom in the galloping pace of New York City. Each time, I feel myself go into contraction around a pose in class, thinking,‘ Oh my god, my ass is in the air, and I think I have a hemorrhoid from this cleanse I’ve been doing’ I Breathe, Release and Surrender. Ahhh. This practice has been my lifeblood. It is always expanding, changing, and growing and I love it.
Out of the nude yoga was born a Clothing-Optional Interfaith Body-Positive Church Service called Holy Body Worship, which I lead with friend and colleague Rev. Goddess Charmaine. Now in its 3rd successful year, we are taking this time to reinstate its status as a ‘clothing-optional’ event, having recently nicknamed it ‘Naked Church’. We meet on the 4th Sunday of the month in midtown Manhattan.
Holy Body Worship is an Interfaith spiritual service that celebrates the intimacy and uniqueness of the body and soul relationship. This occurs through honoring and acknowledging the body as a temple and recognizing it as the vessel chosen by our soul for incarnation. The option of being naked or skyclad during Service is used to further express reverence and celebrate our body-soul relationship to Source. Our bodies are beautiful miracles, complex ecosystems, walking art – each unique, holy and a piece of God/Goddess/Source.
The ‘clothing optional’ is simply that – optional. You are never required to be nude during service. It is a matter of choice and truth in the present moment based on how your body feels and wishes to express itself. In service, we view nudity as a form of transparency and intimacy. We bare our souls and the places that have been hiding our living inauthentically and bring ourselves back to authenticity, transparency and one-ness. If we feel guarded when we remove our clothes it’s not a form of celebration, and we’ve actually moved our relationship to body/soul/source out of its union and into fragmentation, inauthenticity. On the other hand, if you have felt guarded your entire life, perhaps this is the moment to experience your union and one-ness through nudity, moving through your fear and embracing yourself ‘holy’ and completely in that moment.
In Holy Body Worship, we choose to be nude or to celebrate with others who are nude to explore a deeper level of intimacy with our bodies, our souls, each other, and the divine. To remove that which keeps us separate – and to bring us back into the right relationship with body, soul, Source. Whole-y Body Worship celebrates and takes a stand for the right to choose to worship your body naked or clothed or in any state of disrobe that feels appropriate to you in the present moment. At the same time it acknowledges that that decision may change from moment to moment. We invite you to ask yourself what makes you feel powerful, holy, wild, sensual, free, and totally you and to celebrate your body soul union from that place. ”
Isis has generously donated a 60 minute private yoga session for our Nude Year’s Eve raffle. For more information about Isis and her work visit http://www.sensulshaman.com
This post about the Naked Church which is hosted by the Sensual Shaman – Isis Phoenix was published by – Young Naturists & Nudists America YNA