In the last decade, nude fitness activities have become very popular. For some, the idea of exercising naked would be considered obscene and embarrassing. However, there are others who practice clothes-free fitness on a regular basis.
Phillip Coupal, a professionally trained counselor and body-worker, finds that naked yoga allows people to free up their bodies.
“When people practice yoga without their $150 lululemon pants, they are in their body,” Coupal said. “It levels the playing field, because the clothes aren’t making you who you are.”
Coupal, works at the Awaken Studio, located at 270 Carlaw Ave. Currently, it is the only place in Toronto that offers naked Ashtanga yoga sessions for men only.
“The market for naked yoga seems to be for men between mid 20s to late 70s,” Coupal said.
While naked yoga grows in popularity, the activity remains taboo. Paul Barber, one of the participants in Coupal’s class suggests this may have something to do with people associating nudity with sex.
“In our class there is no touching involved,” Barber said. “The yoga instructor might make a small adjustment to what it is that you’re doing, but that’s it.”
Coupal says men can become sexually aroused during the yoga class, due to their level of relaxation.
“It just happens. They are on their mat and nobody is looking, nobody cares…we are here to practice yoga; we are not here to have sex,” he said. “This is also part of normalizing the physical functions of the male body.”
Coupal says that performing yoga in the nude does amazing things for the male body. It can help boost self-esteem for some men, by making them more comfortable with their bodies.
“When I come to class I just feel like it’s me and my mat,” class participant, Tony Dunn said. “I am aware of everything around me, but it’s not important. Without clothes there are no shadows. It is very personal.”