Naked Yoga and Nude Evolving at Evolvefest

| September 12, 2013 | 10 Comments

Naked Yoga at Evolvefest Yoga & Music Festival 2013

Nakedness at Evolvefest:

Evolvefest 2013 – Any yoga festival with a vision large enough to include naked yoga instantly has my support. Over Labor Day weekend this year, for the first time naked yoga formally hit Evolvefest Yoga and Music Festival. Evolvefest been cited by Yahoo as “one of the top ten yoga music festivals in the world.” It took place over four days on a farm in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and it is generally held at the same time as Burning Man on the West Coast. It’s a great way for us East Coasters to save on cross-country plane fares, stay local and still create a high vibe tribe. Many of the festival goers were East Coasters, but some musicians, like the Bhajans, came all the way from Seattle, while another couple teaching Tantra flew in from Asia for the occasion.

evolvefest isis phoenix naked yoga music festival

Isis Phoenix at Evolvefest

Naked yoga has been a bit of a black sheep in the mainstream yoga world. Often deemed the yoga practice for proverbial red-headed yoga stepchildren, naked yoga has been anything but accepted by fundamentalist yogis. Nude yoga has been something covert, found in the backrooms of yoga studios or private homes of yoga teachers, and almost never listed on any public schedules. It was a practice for yogic rebels and was often met with an eye-roll, a distasteful comment or self-deprecating exclusion such as “Oh I could never do that until I lost fifteen pounds.” For naked yoga to be included at a mainstream yoga and music festival that frequently garners over a thousand attendees was a breakthrough indeed. The inside work to open this portal to mainstream acceptance was something that fearless naked yogis and naturists in general have been chipping away at for years. We finally achieved – how to put it – hundredth monkey status at this event, where it became clear to festival goers that this is now simply a rising popular practice and not the left-handed path of yoga.

My involvement with naked yoga at Evolvefest began at an earlier Evolver fundraiser retreat called “Bliss-Ma//Kali Ma Lift up the Goddess.” After this event, I received an invitation by the festival director David Bryson to teach at the larger Evolvefest. I asked tentatively if David thought Evolvefest was ready for naked yoga. David shared earnestly with me that, as the name suggested, Evolvefest was an evolutionary yogic event, and, yes, we were ready. We agreed the best location was actually indoors for naked yoga – a place that would be private enough for those not wanting to participate or witness the practice but large enough for a full gathering of yogis to celebrate their bodies. There was a barn space above the livestock that the owner of Fellowship thought would be appropriate. All us naked animals obviously needed to be corralled.

evolvefest music yoga festival iss phoenix naked city

Evolvefest main stage lit up at night

It was also suggested that Sunday morning would be the best time for the class. It was originally suggested for 7am, but I requested pushing it to 8am due to the late night music and a goddess ritual ceremony I would be co-officiating with sound healer Astarius Miraculii. With the late night Saturday schedule, even an 8am yoga class seemed unlikely to bring in a large crowd. After our carefully crafted discussion, when I arrived at the festival, there was confusion as to where the class would actually be held. The scheduling boards had our class slated for the outdoor yoga pavilion, but earlier conversations had decided it would be in the barn for privacy and containment. A change was never communicated to me. We stayed in the barn.

After winding down from a puja the night before that ended around 2am, I awoke to a thunderstorm and subsequently little hope for a good-sized turnout to naked yoga. My teaching partner Sean and I walked in the rain to the barn and opened up the space. We were the two lone attendees who dared to rise that early and brave the downpour. I lit a candle and smudged the room with sage. At 7:55am, we were still the only ones there. “If it’s just us, we’ll still practice,” I told Sean. I took a walk to the yoga pavilion to find sleeping campers and about eight people with their mats rolled out waiting for me. Smiling, I guided them back to the barn. Now we were ten. A small but adequately sized class. We began with speaking our intentions for our practice and then quietly disrobed.

Slowly a few others found their way to us… we became twelve, then fifteen, then twenty, then thirty, then more. Soon the clouds parted and we had the room filled at capacity. Even Jordan, the co-founder of Young Naturists America, a proud naturist who has also devoutly stated he would never practice yoga, joined us for a group exercise and then sat and meditated with us during Savasana. Zen Marie Holmes who offers naked yoga classes in New York popped in halfway through the class to offer her support. Even Tony from the festival kitchen staff came and joined us after I mentioned the class to him the previous afternoon. With ten minutes left of the class, stragglers were still wandering in the door taking off their clothes and rolling out their mats for the final few forward bends. As we closed in a final meditation offering our intentions for naked yoga as a practice of healing and transformation out into the world, I looked around the room at the faces of peace and tranquility, of acceptance and love and felt, yes, Evolvefest was indeed ready.

After late night music and a morning thunderstorm, an 8am class was a lot for anyone to make. But true-blue hard-core nudies and the shy and curious filtered in to practice yoga together. The level of presence and commitment from the community to attend was profoundly uplifting. I was reminded by something Astarius would say in the morning ceremonies: “The universe’s expansion is at the mercy of you showing up.” People are showing up for naked yoga!!

astarius evolvefest yoga music festival isis phoenix naked yoga

Astarius on the main stage at Evolvefest

As our class wound to a close, we could hear Astarius’s booming voice beginning the opening ceremony. There was a collective thought of joining them all while we were still naked, but we decided to shelve that part of Evolvefest’s evolution for next year. While there was space for it at Evolvefest, nakedness was for the most part contained to the “Naked City” campground hosted by YNA and my naked yoga class. Astarius shared with me that at one point in the festival he encountered a group of young people around a campfire who were sharing ritual and story. He joined them, bemused that a few of them were “in the sacred buff” and were very open to spontaneous ritual, song, dance and celebration.

A few festival attendees came up to me after class and during the end of the festival and mentioned how refreshing it was to practice yoga and celebrate their bodies nude in a group environment. Others went on to tell me that naked yoga and naked city was the most healing part of the entire festival for them. I am reminded in this moment that Evolvefest needed naked yoga as much as naked yoga needed Evolvefest. Evolvefest is a festival for all paths. All paths lead to the one path of unity. Thank you, Evolvefest, for holding a vision large enough to include conscious celebratory nudity as part of our human and spiritual evolution.

[A note from Felicity: Our “Naked City” was awesome. At night in the dark with only our glowsticks and lanterns for light, we weren’t sure we’d get anyone to join us. But they did and they had a great time! For most it was their first time in social nudity. We applied glow-in-the-dark body paint, danced to the music, laughed and talked. We welcomed the light rain on our liberated bodies after a humid, hot day. And as Astarius mentions, many stayed naked even after leaving the “city.” Evolvefest Naked City = success, especially thanks to a few wonderful YNA’ers who helped make it happen. Now if only they would let us skinny dip in the pool next year…]

Isis Phoenix is a sensual shaman, herbalist and naked yoga teacher living in New York City. Learn more on her website:

Isis Phoenix and Rev. Goddess Charmaine are hosting a CLOTHING OPTIONAL HOLY BODY RETREAT featuring naked yoga, naked church, trance dance and a group healing circle in New York City Sunday, September 29th 10am-2pm at the ABC Sanctuary 638 E 6th St. New York, NY 10009

If you are a current member of YNA you can receive $5 off by entering the code “YNA” on the Eventbrite page. Be sure to bring your YNA card with you the day of the event.

Young Naturists and Nudists America

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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