Men’s Naked Yoga – London, is yoga classes led by yoga instructor Matthew Gough among others. There is an active community of naked yogis on Instagram. We come across them all the time as we browse through posts. However, when we discovered Gough, the classic unpretentious nature of his naked yoga posts drew our interest. When he posted about teaching classes in London we took the cue to explore his approach to doing and teaching naked yoga. We think his approach to naked yoga syncs up well with our naturist approach. Read our interview below and see if you agree.
CFL – How did you get started with yoga?
MG – I practiced briefly with my mother when I was a teenager, and got back into it in my mid 30’s when I took up rock climbing. Climbing and yoga have many psychological and physical similarities, and the two disciplines go hand in hand.
CFL – Why did you become a yoga instructor?
MG – I had a particularly life affirming experience on a retreat, and realised that I needed to share the journey to that sort of happiness and self acceptance with others.
CFL – What caused you to start doing yoga clothes free?
MG – As an occasional naturist it seemed like an obvious thing to do!
CFL – Have you experienced any challenges as a naked yogi?
MG – Yes. Many people assume there’s a sexual element, or that it’s in some way erotic. It’s absolutely not, but the first question i get asked is ‘what happens if I get an erection’!
CFL – What are the benefits of practicing naked yoga?
MG – There are many benefits.
Yoga is about deepening our understanding of ourselves, the world around us, and our place in that world. Without the physical shield of clothes it’s much easier to connect with that sense of self as we can more easily put aside the mental shield we all have in our daily lives. We’re all on the same level, so no judgement can be made about who we are by the outward signs we choose to cover ourselves with. Meditating and practising yoga whilst naked as a member of a group of other naked people is a life-affirming and deeply liberating experience.
We are bombarded with photoshopped and airbrushed images in the media, and many people, particularly guys, have a big problem accepting their own body. On a practical level, being able to move and observe your own body whilst naked is great for improving body awareness and alignment, but it also allows you to see yourself in the context of others, and allows you to begin to accept that the body you’ve got is actually pretty amazing.
CFL – Was it easy to start teaching naked yoga classes?
MG – Yes. In London there are several other naked classes, and there are many venues that are totally comfortable with naturism.
CFL – Men’s Naked Yoga – London is the name of your classes Who are your naked yoga classes for?
MG – My main passion is bringing yoga to men, so my naked classes are for men only. The guys are about a third gay, a third straight, and a third ‘it’s nobody else’s business’. I have a wide age range, from early 20’s to late 70’s, in my mix ability classes, and guys from 20 to late 50’s in my “strong” class. I advertise them as ‘yoga for guys who think yoga isn’t for them’, as I don’t use Sanskrit, there’s no chanting, no music. Just a bunch of guys together, sharing an experience.
CFL – How do you deal with the perception that naked yoga is sexual, personally and in your classes?
MG – I’m very up front about it. I don’t use words like tantra, sensual, intimate, erotic, touch, connection, in my class descriptions or when talking about my classes as that sort of language can be a veil for inappropriate behaviour, particularly in a gay naked class. I state on my website and in class descriptions that sexual behaviour is not appropriate. Fortunately there are other avenues for people to explore that side of themselves, so if their journey really is about sexual discovery they’re able to find that elsewhere. I’ve never had a problem with anyone misunderstanding what my classes are about.
CFL – What do you want the people who come to your classes to experience?
MG – Ultimately a better connection with themselves, feel more relaxed and comfortable in their everyday lives, and smile more! In the short term, a period of ‘me’ time… taking from the session what they need (not necessarily what they arrive wanting!)… and to feel that they’ve taken the next step on their yoga journey.
CFL – Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
MG – Naked Yoga in London has exploded over the last few years. For me, it’s yoga first, naked second. Nakedness adds a whole different perspective to yoga, but fundamentally it’s about the yoga. For many naturists, naked yoga is a brilliant way to combine two interests, naturism first, yoga second, and I love that my mixed ability classes contain students of all abilities many of whom are naturist. That said, I’m the only teacher in London that offers a Level 2, strong, naked class. Most of the guys in that class are yogis first, naturist second, like me. There are other teachers who teach a much more spiritual practice, and yet others who teach other styles. It’s great that our ever growing community in London is wide enough to support lots of different approaches to combining your yoga practice with naturism, and I would suggest that if you try one class and it isn’t for you, have a look around and try a different class elsewhere with another teacher!