Why Naked Yoga? An interview by Antonio Capurro
Click here to read 1st part of an interview done by internationally renowned internet blogger Antonio Capurro.
Click here for part 2.
From your experience what is to have a healthy sexual life and a healthy relationship? The first four letters of healthy are H-E-A-L. If we have any wounds or injuries on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level, then I believe we must develop ways to let them heal. That may take years or it may take lifetimes. One of the most powerful healing techniques I can imagine is to be in the present moment. If two (or more) people can incorporate that into their connection, the relationship has a better chance of succeeding and, of course, the sex can also be incredible.
People are always trying to make things better and push themselves. Is yoga a way to have control in our sexuality and make it powerful or just to put our emotions in a freer atmosphere? I feel that we have definitely created a “Mother Culture” that encourages us to push us past our limits in many ways. We work hard, we play hard. I recall reading in a book from Paulo Coelho these words about our human condition: “We are in such a hurry to grow up, and hen we long for our lost childhood. We make ourselves ill earning money, and then spend all of our money on getting well again. We think so much about the future that we neglect the present, and thus experience neither the present nor the future. We live as if we were never going to die, and die as if we had never lived.” I found that to be a very profound observation. I do believe that yoga can bring balance and discipline into our lives. Both Buddha and Goldilocks (from “the 3 Bears” fable) figured out that there is a ‘middle path’ and that finding a happy medium is indeed the most liberating and freeing experience imaginable. My sense is that the men that take naked yoga on a regular basis also experience a form of liberation through the exercise, the meditation and the sense of community our classes have to offer.
How to educate people and society to be inclusive and accept others in the diversity and intolerance? More and more people are catching on. There is a natural evolution towards an Understanding that we are all in this together. Long before we had Western Civilization, the humans realized this Oneness. Each ancient civilization that I have read about had common themes in their belief systems: to live in harmony with Nature, to take from the Earth only what we need, to treat everyone and everything with respect. Pretty simple, yet somehow we have lost touch with those values. At this point, I think it just takes those of us who ‘get it’ to keep repeating it until the rest of the world catches on. If you have the space, please include the lyrics of Dar Williams’ “The Christians and The Pagans” and Black Eyed Peas’ “Where is the Love?” I think there are ALOT of messages out there that are helping turn the tide.
Yoga is about healing your body and your spirit but gay men most of the time have behind a certain amount of angry and pain because hiding who they really are, for some gay men is not a difficult process but for some it is, how to make gay men happier? Some social science research shows that gay men acknowledge feeling ‘different’ from others starting around age 5. That’s a very young age to start building protective walls or creating various masks to hide our ‘true selves’ from others. If we begin that process that early and society starts to tell us that it’s NOT OK to be true to ourselves, imagine how much emotional and spiritual pain and trauma most of us have experienced. The healing and growing that we do before and after we come out are amazing. I have so much respect for every man that comes to the naked yoga class. They have the courage to shed layers of clothes and societal labels so they can continue to deepen their connection with their true being. It is my most sincere hope that the naked yoga class offers each person a safe, non judgemental space to celebrate who they are and to be part of a healthy community that continues to grow.
How about when a Transgendered student comes to your classs? I set an intention that the naked yoga for men class will be a safe space for anyone who self-identifies as being male can come and practice. A transgendered man who comes to my class regularly shared these kind words on Yelp: He’s kind, he’s encouraging and he knows what he’s doing. Whether you’re new to yoga, plateauing in your practice or a professional yogi, Ken’s classes will usher in a new level of understanding and connection with your body. The classes I’ve taken with him are thorough and invigorating with plenty of time for restorative moments and grounding towards the end of class. He guides newcomers and gently adjusts experienced students. What I like best about Ken’s classes are his reminders that wherever you are right now, is exactly where you should be. He has classes in SF and Oakland. (Ken’s naked yoga classes are a safe space for trans-men.) My hope is that someday we can have a co-ed group that allows anyone and everyone to practice together. Someday.
We are living times when for gay men is easy to be in contact with others and interact looking for many things online most of it sex and more young people is living a kind of desperate hook up culture, do you think that nude yoga could be a way to give young gay people a more healthy and responsible sexuality? My experience here in San Francisco is that gay men move from all over the country and all over the world to connect with other men. And along the way in our life journey, there is also this interesting duality of fears that gay men sometimes experience. Are we more afraid of being alone or more afraid of being truly intimate with another man? I enjoy doing outreach at the gay bars and clubs and online. I find many guys are initially stating that they want to have sex and are surprised when I invite them to a nonsexual naked yoga group. I am the one who has been pleasantly surprised when many of them do come and check it out. Never once have I had an uncomfortable experience with someone acting inappropriately in the naked yoga group. Men want to connect and we are learning how to do that in a genuine way. I truly have found many men are able to experience more healthy connections as a result of joining our naked yoga community.
You are a gay man that practice naked yoga and for sure before to go classes you look at yourself in the mirror, what is the part of your body you like more and which one less? You ask the best and most challenging questions don’t you. I used to be very self conscious and shy about showing my body. I have come to look in the mirror and appreciate my body for what it is. I still deal with some amount of body acceptance and know that I have days when I like what I see in the mirror and other days when I do not. I see this as part of my practice of letting go of my ego.
With the blogs and micro blogs, twitter, Facebook and MySpace people is interacting about their ideas, interests, sharing information and making easy to be in touch, yoga see the practical in a holistic way and not separate, why gay community can’t see in that way sometimes? Technology and all of its bells and whistles are simply reflections of our species’ strong desire to connect with one another. Thanks to Facebook, I am now in touch with elementary school classmates and long lost cousins. I can now email all of my contacts to announce where I am, what I am eating and when my next retreat will be. I can view photos of my friend’s newborn baby minutes after she was born. I can cruise over 1,000 local gay men who are online and chat with a dozen at a time. So, the age old question of QUANTITY vs. QUALITY needs to be explored here. I think it is great that the options for all of these ways of staying connected with one another are available for us. I can imagine that in this modern ‘advanced’ era, some individuals meet and encounter more people in a day than someone living 200 years ago would meet in a life time. In this fast-paced society, we all still search for ways to foster intimate relationships with others and all of this leads me to believe that’s why so many people turn to yoga and other community-oriented spaces to connect.
What do you recommend people to make or how to live when you are a single gay man? The longest ‘long term relationship’ anyone has is with SELF. Cultivating a genuine ability to be present with oneself is the most precious experience one can have. Along with it, comes the opportunity to experience true intimacy with another. Without a solid connection with oneself, even with the most desired, attractive, attentive boyfriend, one will not feel contentment. So, if you are a single man, practice taking yourself out to dinner or to the movie. Celebrate all the wonderful qualities that you have to offer. Build on your strengths but do it for yourself, not for the ‘ideal boyfriend.’ It’s much like the wisdom of “The Secret,” two things that seem to be true is that what we resist will indeed persist, and the universe can not decipher negative from positive intentions. Simply put, if we are stuck in a fear of being ALONE, that fear will manifest. If we enjoy the present moment and are open to possibilities, then good things are more likely to come our way.