Naked Yoga and A Story of Transformation Through Doing Yoga in The Nude by Isis Phoenix

| October 10, 2012 | 25 Comments

How Naked Yoga and Doing Young in The Nude Changed My Yoga Practice

(Guest Blog by Naked Yoga Instructor Isis Phoenix)

Naked Yoga by Isis

I towel dried my hair and sans clothes, I padded barefoot to my living room and rolled out my yoga mat. I wanted to get a practice in before teaching yoga in the evening. It was the spring of 2007. For some reason on this particular day I didn’t bother to put on the normal stretchy pants and fitted top that accompanied my yoga practice. I opted for the fashion of ‘au naturel’ instead of streamlining spandex. It was a whim.

I wasn’t what one would consider a nudist. I didn’t have to be naked in my home, nor was I one to seek out clothing-optional events. I had never been to a nude beach. For some reason on that day, however, I decided to practice yoga without clothes.

I was alone in my New York apartment. It was the middle of the afternoon. The blinds were closed and I was alone – my mat, my breath, my body and all her imperfections. I sat, closed my eyes, and stilled my thoughts.

The impulse for movement arose that lead me into a simple cat-and-cow movement on my hands and knees – arching and flexing my spine with each inhale and exhale – eyes closed. I stretched my way back into downward-facing dog. I was naked. My breasts hung like the udders of a cow in this pose and my belly sagged. So that’s why we wear spandex, I thought. I breathed.

I began a simple sun salute, moving through the familiar poses on my mat. In this sun salute I experienced for the first time what I would call yoga. Let me explain. I had been practicing regularly for three years and had recently completed my yoga teacher training.

To say that this happenstance experience, naked in my living room was the first time I experienced yoga was absurd to me. However, the moment it happened I knew. Anything I thought was yoga before was now off the table. It was a moment that I can only explain as that of a very complicated lock that had been stuck for many years lining up and suddenly cracking open to reveal a secret portal to oneness.

Before that moment I can say my yoga practice had been consistent but somewhat superficial. I had tangible goals – longer headstands, mastering complicated sequences, a practice of vegetarianism, attending classes three times a week, learning Sanskrit. In this moment, however, the doors swung open and everything that was fragmenting my practice was revealed.

naked nude yoga social nudity transformation

Isis Phoenix Naked Yoga Instructor

Shame, self-loathing, pride, judgment all rose to the surface and dissolved and my spirit in this moment transformed, and rested fully in her temple. It was like releasing the top of a pressure cooker, thoughts, beliefs and judgments flew out like hot steam and in the next moment, there was just space and good cooked food inside. My soul rested happily in this place. For the next hour on my mat I was yoga.

Nothing prepared me for this experience. Up to that point, yoga was for me 90 minutes of asanas followed by spice tea and ginger cookies conversing about the new Deepak Chopra book or fawning over Jai Uttal’s new CD. On this fateful day, however, nudity both electrified and intensified my experience of yoga. The moment was a total shock – naked in my living room, on my mat, I merged into that divine union we all seek.

That was the first time in three years of my yoga practice that I found what one calls yoga. I went deeper into my practice, my hands brushed past my nipples in Warrior One. I had nipples for the first time in my practice, not just a pressed down ‘uniboob’ in a yoga sports bra.

Even freshly showered in the yoga practice, my body had her own unique smell like vanilla and earth – had I ever smelled myself before? It was perhaps one of the first times I had ever existed in my body consciously without judgment and was able to witness the miracle of creation and even the simple delight of even having a body. Each freckle became a mystery and something to rouse wonder. The experience was both transcendental and embodied, both sacred and secular.

It was the most profound practice of my life. I arose from savasana with purpose, transformed. I did a Google search to see who else was offering naked yoga at the time and only came across all-male classes that appeared to emphasize Tantric-practice, read lots of male-on-male action.

I didn’t want some weird dude’s hands on me in child’s pose, but I did want to see if others out there were having similar experiences. Frustrated that there were no options for me to practice other than in my living room, I tentatively put out an announcement that I would be offering a class. The response was instantaneous. I received an outpouring of inquiries in my email box including some from the press. Apparently, people were having similar experiences in their own living rooms.

From there the story was written – the world proclaimed: We want naked yoga! I discovered a small naturist community that was practicing bi-weekly and we merged classes. We would start class in a circle, with saying our names and what brought us there. The vulnerability in the group’s opening circle was profound. In each class, we moved from a group of strangers to a group on a pilgrimage for the sacred.

Each class was a mixed bag dotted with intentions ranging from overcoming shame and self-judgment, to one-timers who knew they had to do this to prove they could do anything, to advanced yogis who wanted to deepen their practice by including nudity to the occasional creepy guy in the back, all supported by a group of long-time naturists. Many men have arrived expecting to see a group of flexy blonde women, only to see a group made up almost entirely of men staring back at them who had the very same expectation. Yet, most chose to stay in class anyway as they released that expectation and uncovered a deeper part of themselves.

I have received weekly the question from the mouths of men’s shame – what happens if I get an erection? I have seen hundreds of erections and yet in no class was it memorable to me that a man had one. The class is not inherently erotic. While we as humans are sensual/sexual beings that is not the focus of this class and an erection quickly learns that when the reality of the moment collides with what the mind has fabricated. Within the first ten minutes of class, every body in the room finds equanimity, the group finds wholeness and a collective journey begins.

Memorable moments from these classes include: a woman finding a birthmark on her body for the first time, a Hasidic Jewish man taking off all his religious clothing and getting into downward-facing dog, a mother-and-daughter duo practicing side-by-side, a Jewish and Muslim man disrobing across from each other as I watched religious tension dissipate before my eyes, a man in a chastity belt, a woman who somehow hadn’t known ours was a naked yoga class and practiced with us anyway.

For three years, these classes were my crux of self-discovery. Every time I thought I had the nudity thing down, I would reach another level of self-discovery in the practice. I experienced the toils of how to honor my body and the practice while menstruating and teaching at the same time.

I felt the vulnerability of doing a demo in front of a class with all eyes on me and my body. I felt hidden places of shame that, as I moved naked through the practice, continued to be revealed month after month. I have no false delusions that naked is the only way to practice yoga. The practice of yoga itself is inherently trans-formative. While one does not need to be naked in the practice to find it transformation, I found that the fast track to transformation for me included nudity.

I needed that much raw attention on my body to keep me both present and embodied. Being naked brought me out of the idea of what I thought yoga was or should be. One does not need to be naked to experience yoga, just as one does not need to practice yoga to reach enlightenment. There are many roads up the mountain. This is mine. I walk it naked.

About the Author: Isis Phoenix is a sensual shaman, yoga teacher and community herbalist. She is currently writing the book Asana Exposed that shares the stories of those who have found transformation through the naked yoga practice.

This article about Naked Yoga and the transformation powers of Doing Yoga in The Nude was written by Isis Phoenix for – Young Naturists and Young Nudists America YNA

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Category: Social Nudity Blogs, Yoga

About the Author ()

Isis Phoenix is a sensual shaman who facilitates ceremonies for individuals wanting to create transformation in the area of sexuality, spirituality, intimacy and relationship. Isis facilitates individual coaching and group Shamanic Immersions and retreats. She is also the founder of Naked Yoga NYC, a nude yoga movement that continues to gain international attention. Isis Phoenix and her work has been featured in Jane Magazine, Vogue, Elle, NY Post, BBC News and MSNBC. For more information visit or email