Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The room is like any Yoga Studio in NYC, warm, inviting, peaceful with lovely candles and wood floors.  I arrived at the suggested 15 minute early time.  I being a "Naked Yoga Virgin" and generally a modestly dressed female, came to class with my own apprehensions.

The instructor Isis, is bubbly and vibrant.  She has the face of a cherub, wild curly chestnut hair and a spiritual radiance.  She greets me while holding her cute black and white cat.  The rest of the class slowly trickles in, many of whom are devoted to the studio.  The class is an intimate size of 8 with an equal ratio of men and women and we have the added luxury of live music played by a talented female electric bass player.  We lay out our mats in typical staggered formation, mine at the back.  I was the obvious baby of the group.

Isis's kitten quickly found a home on my Yoga mat, which oddly made me feel more comfortable to stay and participate. 

Isis decides to change the configuration of the mats, now we are all mats against the walls, basically facing each other...WOW now my nerves are feeling it.  She invites us to introduce ourselves, which instantly builds community.  We begin fully clothed, on our mats in a guided meditation and soon Isis invites us in a ritualistic way to casually disrobe and feel free.  We all proceed to carry our clothes, which represent our inhibitions to cubbies at the front of the room.  I am in a sea of Naked People floating on Yoga Mats.  While the website tells us to be mindful of others privacy, and respectful of the human bodies natural reactions, I couldn't help but notice how "things" do "arise".

Like in most Yoga classes, we begin with Om.  While this naked practice can be sensual, natural and liberating, I quickly learn that it is Non-Judgement in its purest form.  After my first moments of nervousness subsided, I brought my attention to my own breath, got lost in the postures and maintained softly closed eyes or a narrow slit gaze so not to get distracted from the flow.

We went through a wonderful Restorative Yoga Session.  Everyone was naked, and our lovely naked female electric bass player enchanted the class with haunting live music.  Isis has a poetic way of guiding student in the pose.  She is mindful of her class and suggests modifications for people who may not be advanced in their Yoga practice.  It was amazing how the pigeon pose that she led us into was possibly one of the longest, deepest, most restorative experiences of my personal Yoga journey.  Isis also led us in a heart opening supported bridge that was just brilliant!

Everyone in the group was really friendly.  This entire experience took me out of my comfort zone.  It is in no way an exhibitionist experience but rather a beautiful, and natural experience that celebrates the human body with a sense of community.  The reality of our nakedness becomes a non issue really quick, and like any other Yoga class their are moments when laughter is encouraged.

Being a Yoga Instructor myself (a clothed Yoga Instructor), I recommend this class to all Yogis as a chance to truly look beyond being fierce in Asana, beyond personal body hang-ups, and to become more mindful of others as a community. Co-Ed, naked, liberation if you will.  For people looking to save money on Yoga clothes, naked Yoga is for you.  I joked with Isis after class that she may put major Yoga Apparel companies out of business.  For me this experience gave me the chance to celebrate a deeper appreciation of my curves, genes, and dedication to fitness, along with liberation from the confines of societal rules.  That being said, I have no plans to retire my Yoga pants, and will continue to enjoy expressing my fashion flare on the Yoga Mat in my clothes.

If you are interested in a Naked Yoga session or other amazing classes offered at this lovely studio in NYC, visit: www.nakedyoganyc.com

Monday, March 30, 2009

Yoga according to LeBron

Many people know about the growing popularity of the ancient physical and mental discipline of Yoga.  Many celebrities have incorporated Yoga in their daily routine.  NBA star, LeBron James has made Yoga a part of his essential weekly practice.

When asked how Yoga helps mental focus:
L: "Yoga isn't just about the body, it's about the mind and it's technique that has really helped me," James said. "You do have to focus because there's some positions that can really hurt you at times if you aren't focused and breathing right."

When asked how Yoga helps recover from injuries:
L: "It is something that really can help your balance," James said. "I had some lower back problems a few years ago and once I started to do the yoga, it has helped them go away for now. Of course we can stretch but stretching only goes so far."

Highlights from this blog entry are taken from an amazing article called "LeBron's extra edge: Cavaliers star's devotion to yoga training helps keeps James healthy" By Brian Windhorst.
For the full article go to cleavland.com.  That being said, in the event LeBron James himself would like me to interview him for the purpose of a zoga yoga blog entry, or even provide a Yoga session, I can be found at www.zogayoga.com.  Namaste ~

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yoga Rush Hour Commute

" You must be the change you want to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

We all dream of changes.  Most changes incorporate the Mind, Body, and Spirit.  Yoga is a chance to manifest these changes.  Taking the time to sit on your mat in meditation, flow through your asana practice, and even go through some breathing exercises (pranayama) are all little changes that inevitably can change your individual world and the world at large. Extending your Yoga practice beyond the mat, beyond the peace of your favorite Yoga studio, and even beyond the comfort of your most treasured place of tranquility and then taking it out onto the NYC subway...that is a way to make your Yoga practice an extension of your soul.

A Meditation (Dhyana) practice can uncover peace and serenity in a busy city like NYC.  On a crowded, rush hour subway, take a minute to change your outlook from within.  With focus on your silent breath, cultivating an inner state of gratitude, and being thoughtful of fellow commuters we can extend our meditation practice beyond the mat.  The peace we find within can change the entire experience.

Asana practice can also be taken on the crowded subway.  Focus on a single point (drishti), rooting your feet down, engaging your abdominal (locks/bandhas) and allowing yourself to BALANCE.  On your feet and not on your hands or head of course.  But this is taking your Yoga beyond the mat to create change in an otherwise frustrating experience.

Finally, regardless of religion, Love is the common thread of our universal fabric.  Love is found in compassion to a pregnant woman in need of a seat, in gratitude when thanking a fellow rider who makes space for you, in charity when sharing some pocket change with a person less fortunate, and in humility when we apologize in the event we step on another commuters feet.

Our Yoga practice can inspire the change we wish to see in the world.  It can be as simple changing our thoughts.  It is more than achieving the most fierce Yoga Pose (Asana).  It is an inner peace, a kind perspective, and joy that begins within and extends beyond the mat.