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Surprise: Being in a room full of limber, naked men is good for you

BY BOB FINDLE

Dog, Warrior 2, One-legged King Pigeon, Cobra, Cow Face. Up-and-coming hip-hop artists straight outta Compton you ask? No, these are a few pose names, also called asanas, used in yoga. Each pose has a specific physical and mental benefit and is combined in various sequences for the practice of yoga.

More than 5000 years old, yoga is found in all parts of the world, including in a fifth-floor studio in New York’s Chelsea. There you’ll find Aaron Star, pictured on left in the photo below, and his aptly named Hot Nude Yoga (hotnudeyoga.com).

Since 2001, Star has been convincing men to step out of their gym shorts, jock straps and comfort zones to do birthday-suit yoga.

Is there a pose called Free Your Willie?

Star says, no, there isn’t, although that part of the body is most certainly free to swing and sway at will during class.

“Naked yoga is a freeing experience,” he says. “Yoga gets to the essence of what we really are -- a body with a spirit. Naked yoga, the shedding of clothes, helps remove a huge part of the ego from the equation.”

That said, anyone looking at the materials for Hot Naked Yoga, which promotes itself as being for in-shape men, could feel they don’t make the beauty cut and therefore not attend. Is it a room full of Abercrombie & Fitch knockoffs?

No, says Star.

“There seems to be a wide range as to how people interpret ‘in shape.’ If you go to Europe, most people seem to think they’re in shape if they just feel good or get a good medical check-up. Here in North America, we seem to think we are in shape if we have the body of Adonis.”

To Star, someone is in shape if they consistently look after themselves. And, although some may picture yoga classes being attended by ethereal, wispy new agers with squeaky clean auras, yoga is often quite physical and requires a level of fitness similar to any exercise program.

“Hot Nude Yoga,” Star says, “is not and never will be for people who haven’t walked to the end of their driveway in the last week, or month for that matter.”

Apparently many men are able to walk to the end of their driveway and what started out as a New York-niche novelty has grown and Star’s classes have taken on international proportions.

“Many other naked yoga groups started to pop up all over the place,” he says. “Those group leaders wanted me to come and give workshops. It’s been a lot of fun. This year I am doing workshops and retreats in Cologne, Germany; Costa Rica; Hawaii; London and Paris. I’m also doing a guided Himalayan Indian trek in September.”
At the prompting of naked-yoga fans, Star, in conjunction with director Michael Selditch of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and producer

Rob Tate, put his work out for the masses. There is Better Sex Trough Yoga for Gay Men, and the four-DVD series Aaron Star’s Hot Nude Yoga, which consists of Virgin, for beginners; Strength, a more advanced, strenuous workout; Partner, doing poses with another man; and Tantra, which encourages touch, breath and sense arousal.

The men are all attractive, naked and enjoying each other as they go through the poses under Star’s gentle guidance. It’s refreshing they’re appealing, looking like men you could approach at your favorite libation lounge or java joint.

Check it out at hotnudeyoga.com and you too could be bending and stretching your way to a better body.


Nude L.A.

Nude yoga is a natural fit for body-conscious Los Angeles where the weather makes it so easy to show off the physical benefits of the practice. But that isn’t the whole story. Men who attend Hot Nude Yoga in L.A. (nakedyoga.net). find a peaceful setting where they can relax their minds while gaining strength and flexibility.

Phil Roth runs the Los Angeles studio. A man prone to sharing hugs and to remembering your name, Roth is candid about the reasons he started his own group.

“I’d been doing yoga since 1985 and discovered naked yoga classes in 1990,” he says. “I was excited and titillated at the prospect of integrating communal nudity into my practice. I was in my late 30s and feeling more of a desire for male sensuality than for fucking. I used to love the atmosphere of bathhouses with hot guys walking around in towels. But I didn’t want to go back to those places because of the sexual pressure. I thought the gay community needed an environment where we could admire and touch each other’s bodies without the accompanying pressure of having to perform sexually.”

He says he first attracted men to the classes through a Yahoo group in 2003 and originally operated out of his apartment. He moved to a space in 2004 as the group grew and then to a West Hollywood studio space in 2005 where there are at least one or two classes a day with several regular and guest instructors.

“The classes attract men who want the benefits of yoga and who want to enjoy the comradely nudity,” he says. “That is hard to find in today’s environment of homophobia. Used to be men were free to develop a sense of male bonding through shared nude experiences such as at the YMCA where men of all ages used to swim nude together. It was a natural thing to do without the fear of being perceived as homo-sexual. That is pretty much gone now.”

He continues, “I enjoy creating a naked environment where men can work, sweat and breathe deeply -- a place of nurturing with the added benefits of mental, physical and spiritual growth. In my book it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Yoga Styles

Yoga is a centuries-old practice of stretching, breathing and maintaining poses to develop strength, flexibility and overall body awareness. Today, there are many different styles taught and practiced. Here are a few:

Hatha is a very general term that can be used to describe many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is described as Hatha style, it is probably going to be slow-paced and gentle.

Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement. It is usually a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations in which movement is matched to the breath.

Ashtanga is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A series of poses are performed, always in the same order. Because movement between poses is constant, Ashtanga practice can be physically demanding.

Iyengar is based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar. The practice is concerned with bodily alignment and emphasizes holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next (flow).

Kundalini emphasis controlling the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the purpose of freeing

energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. Kundalini uses rapid, repetitive movements.

Bikram was developed by Bikram Choudhury. The style is also called Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 95-100 degree room, the heat loosening tight muscles and causing profuse sweating, which is thought to be cleansing.

Do The Lotus Pose In Your City

Access nakedyoga.net for a listing of naked yoga groups throughout the country and Canada. Included are such cities as Atlanta, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. If you don’t see a city near you -- why not start your own group?

 

 


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