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The very idea of doing yoga unclothed in front of others is enough to induce heart palpitations in many of us. But one Los Angeles-based teacher is championing nude tantric partner yoga as a gateway to more mindfulness, greater self-acceptance and deeper connection with others.
When Brandon Anthony completed his yoga teacher training, he began considering what kind of instructor he wanted to be in the saturated space.
“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure sometimes with yoga to be or act a certain way,” Anthony explains, referring to yoga’s association with a highly spiritual, meat-free, mindful lifestyle. “When I practice at home I always practice nude. I can really see and feel the details of the movement, and it’s been really freeing for my privately, so when it came to creating classes I wanted to share that feeling with other people.”
Although it’s officially billed as “naked tantra partner yoga” for cis and transgender men, the class isn’t exclusively for couples. It’s open to friends and singles too, as attendees rotate through partners during the session. Either way, it’s engineered to enhance connectivity between people.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re attracted to your class partner; it’s about the energy exchange,” explains William Adams III, a finance worker who regularly attends Anthony’s workshops. “If you go with your partner, make sure you’re on the same page before you go in. Maybe you just want to try naked yoga and connect with each other. Maybe you want to meet new people and build a community. Communication and stating your expectations is important.”
Anthony is keen to stress that, despite what you may imagine, his class isn’t “this highly sexualized, highly erotic thing.” Tantra yoga is a blend of poses, breathing techniques and mantras, and working with the subtle energies of the body, so it might begin with a couple standing belly to belly and feeling the rise and fall of each breath, then transition into more active yoga poses that require coordination between the pair. It’s about trust, balance and not taking yourself too seriously.
That being said, between the fear of falling, the humbling experience of attempting challenging postures, the sensation of opening your body in ways it isn’t used to and being totally stark naked, Anthony recognizes he’s facilitating a vulnerable experience. And that comes with responsibilities.
“I feel like 80 percent of my job is making sure I make everyone feel really welcome and comfortable,” he says. “Whether they are queer or have endured sexual abuse or struggle with weight – everybody has body issues. Every single person in the world. And I try to help them get over that.”
The payoff of all that vulnerability and presence is bonding. Couples leave having shared a new and exhilarating experience, and strangers who arrived with a sense of trepidation often leave as friends. Because once you’ve done downward dog in the nude with one another, it’s safe to say you’ve bypassed the small talk stage.