Women’s Naked Yoga by Isis Phoenix

| December 3, 2014 | 10 Comments

Women’s Naked Yoga: Why I’m Taking the Women Away From Mixed-Gender Nude Yoga Classes

by Nude Yogi and Naked Shaman Extraordinaire Isis Phoenix

Why Nude Yoga For Women Only By Isis Phoenix

“Why are you taking the women away from us?!” exclaimed one of my most devoted male yoga students. He was a man in his late sixties and a longtime naturist who for most of his life was deeply committed to a nudist lifestyle.

This was in 2008 when I was newly teaching naked yoga classes in New York and had a small but devoted following that filled up my twelve-person yoga studio several times a week. The comment came as a reaction to putting a women’s naked yoga class on the otherwise mixed-gendered weekly yoga schedule.

The comment was almost childlike when it exited his mouth. “Why are you taking the women away from us?! That is a horrible idea!” he said, sounding more like an eight year old whose elementary school teacher had just informed him that recess would be cancelled rather than a mature sixty-eight year old yogi dedicated to a bi-weekly practice.

Nude Yoga Women Instructor Isis Phoenix by YNA

Nude Yoga Women Instructor – Isis Phoenix

I was taken aback by the reactive exclamatory remark. It certainly wasn’t my intention to take anything away from anybody. In fact, I had started teaching mixed-gendered naked yoga classes because as a woman there were currently no options for me in New York. The only classes being taught at that time were designated as male-only.

I so strongly disliked being ‘excluded’ from something because of my gender that I committed to teaching naked yoga with a ferocious feminist enthusiasm. When I opened my own space in New York to teach, I had several requests from women for a women-only class. However, when I added such a class to the weekly schedule, I received a very vocal backlash from the male yogis.

“Why are you taking the women away from us?” echoed in my ears for days. Despite reactions, I held women-only classes for a few weeks. The objection that an all woman’s class would attract all the women and isolate them into their own time and space for naked yoga, never again to step foot into mixed-gender classes…gave me pause. I realized in hindsight that it was like me taking a child’s temper tantrum as guidance for the evolutionary path of naked yoga.

womens naked yoga isis phoenix massachusetts nude yoga YNA

Women’s Naked Yoga by Isis Phoenix

I made a decision, however, after a few weeks of limited attendance, to not move forward with this idea of women-only classes. Being new to teaching naked yoga at the time as well as mixed nude environments, the squeaky wheel got the grease. Shortly after I started women’s naked yoga classes, I stopped them.

I lacked the discipline to cultivate the women’s movement at the time and due to NY rent expenditures and angry male yogis, my attention went where there was a natural flow of energy – towards mixed-gender classes, which often times turned out to be all male.

After teaching for a while I slowly began to understand that women’s trust takes time and patience to grow and develop, and my New Yorker mentality was short on that. The nature of the feminine is that we need safety in which to blossom open.

When women didn’t come pouring in the door to practice naked yoga like men did, I focused exclusively on the co-ed groups. I let my women’s class idea recede to the back of my manifestation list.

Unfortunately, there were times when there was only one female student in an otherwise all male class. I, as a teacher, sometimes felt uncomfortable when this gender configuration happened and somewhat subliminally felt the need to protect the woman in the class. The same vocal student that was upset with me for beginning an all women’s class would make a point to go up and speak with the only female yogi in the class. He would specifically ask her to come back again.

Few, if any, of these lone yogis returned. I’m not sure if the request to come back felt more demanding than inviting. The blind spot was what had not been cultivated or created at the time– an accessibility for women to feel comfortable in a mixed nude environment practicing yoga. For a woman to show up to a naked yoga class and be the only female there, especially if it is her first experience being socially nude, this can be deeply intimidating.

Nude Women's Yoga Instructor Isis Phoenix by YNA

Nude Women’s Yoga Instructor Isis Phoenix

When I attempted a handful of women’s naked yoga classes in New York, I look back and see how, surprisingly, this led to several women becoming naked yoga teachers themselves. These women are now prominent in the yoga and / or naturist community. This happened because there was an initial entry point into naked yoga with an all-female troupe. This happened because they felt safe.

After a few years of teaching and witnessing how women engage in mixed nude recreation, I realized that women who are newly exploring social nudity often need a supportive women-only space. It’s where they can build their inner power and self-confidence before entering into a nude mixed-gender group.

Having recently relocated to Central Massachusetts I was reminded of this almost instantly. The first private naked yoga session I taught here was to a middle-aged suburban mother who reached out to me because she wanted to build her confidence and deepen her sense of comfort in her own skin.

She wanted to increase her practice of self-love and open to a deeper understanding of herself as a woman. We shared a beautiful yoga session together in which she confessed to me she had nearly cancelled several times leading up to the session due to fear. “I’ve had two kids,” she confided in me like we were old friends. “I’ve had two cesareans and I have stretch marks. I feel like my body was in the leftovers pile when they were handing them out in this lifetime.” She also told me that she had seen pictures online of a woman practicing naked yoga who had her body type.

She said it was very healing and liberating to see a woman with a body like hers with so much confidence. She mentioned, too, during our private session that a mixed gender class would have been absolutely impossible for her, but a private session she could do, and a women’s class… probably in the future.

In my own practice, I knew deep down the healing effects that occurred for me in practicing naked yoga – more confidence, body acceptance and a deeper, more committed practice of self-love.

Well, game on. Men – I’m taking the women away from you. I’m taking them deep into the heart, belly, breasts and womb of wholeness, acceptance and celebration of our women’s bodies. I’m taking them away from you in order to create new possibilities for women to appear in mixed gender environments confidently, proudly and enthusiastically.

isis phoenix women's naked yoga class leominster massachusetts nude yoga YNA

Naked Yoga for Women Only by Isis Phoenix

Inspired by the courage of a Central Massachusetts wife and mother, I began a women’s naked yoga class in Central Massachusetts. Come join us as we practice yoga with the intention of deepening self-love, opening to the mysteries of the female body and embracing our beauty in all shapes and sizes.

Learn more about Isis Phoenix and her new women’s naked yoga class on her website.

Young Naturists & Nudists America

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Category: Social Nudity Blogs, Yoga, Nudist Blogs

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 www.sensualshaman.com or email sensualshaman@gmail.com
  • IsisPhoenix mpapai i forgot to mention the military has 17-year-olds showering with everyone.  they just need parents permission to join before 18

  • IsisPhoenix mpapai i forgot to mention the military has 17-year-olds showering with everyone.  they just need parents permission to join before 18

  • IsisPhoenix mpapai i forgot to mention the military has 17-year-olds showering with everyone.  they just need parents permission to join before 18

  • r27commerce

    scubyw r27commerce Ummmm, let’s see. I have gone back over the article, and then I went over what I wrote.

    I tried to figure out why scubyw does not seem to comprehend that I _am on_ the side of not having to wear clothes, and that my comment was instead in regard to what the article was about: the emotional maturity of certain participants.

    I do not have a ton of time to try to figure that out, but I did work on it a little. But I could did not succeed in understanding his/her lack of comprehension. So … I see no other course but to e-shrug my e-shoulders, and quietly proceed on my e-way along the e-sidewalk. G’night and G_d bless :)

  • scubyw

    r27commerce Why are you ‘sorry’? You’re just a brainwashed soul that hasn’t discovered that all those body coverings (clothes, creams, paints, make-up, revitalizers etc.) are just cons, designed to make money for big business. Your ‘name’ gives something away. You also want to make money of all those con products. Once you free yourself from that influence you will understand.

  • r27commerce

    Your experience is, I am sorry to say, analogous to the clueless boundary-bumpings that I have seen in other gatherings where the mentality is supposed to be one of mature liberation. Yes, cranky children are in bodies of all ages.

  • IsisPhoenix

    mpapai Thanks for the feedback. I am absolutely open to that :-)

  • Stephane Deschenes

    Your experience mirrors mine when introducing single women to naturism. On a couple of occasions my wife and I took single women to a naturist swim for their first experience with naturism. The group that rented the pool did not manage the gender balance. Because of that, the environment was 95% male. In both cases the women expressed discomfort and never tried naturism again. But when we’ve introduced single women to naturism in a gender-balanced environment we’ve had nearly 100% success.

    So I agree that you will have more success with a women-only naked yoga group. But I think you would have an equal success in a mixed gender group that had a balance of men and women.

  • scubyw

    I agree with the first comment. However, once confidence grows, there may be an option to look at mixed gender, but controlled numbers. Say a max. of 4 guys in a group of 10. Makes it a lot less intimidating for the women and may bridge the divide.

  • SunCple

    Given the positions one must assume in yoga, I can certainly understand why some women would want a female only class.  I don’t blame the yogi or the students at all.  If a female only class will help put more women at ease and introduce them to the nude lifestyle then more power to this yogi!