(as a non-native English speaker, I hope everyone will excuse my mistakes in English…)
If you ask me, we could wonder as well why yoga? And why naturism…
For me, yoga and naturism share not only common values, but also a similar vision of existence, like union and liberation of the body and the spirit, and allows us to return to more authentic values, freed of an image and a status imposed by the society, the religion, the family, the time…
The word yoga comes from a Sanskrit verbal root which means « uniting, hitching « . The yoga is an action, aiming at the unification, an union which allows each to know himself in depth, to make ONE with our real nature – our true self -, by integrating physical/energy, psychic/emotional and spiritual aspects.
Through the practice of asanas, its most obvious physical aspect, the yoga helps the body to remain healthy, and to balance and to connect all the aspects of a person. Through other practices (meditation, recitation of mantras, pranayama), the yoga allows us to access to a better knowledge of ourselves and an understanding of energy structure, a better control of our internal energies, our feelings…
In this exploration of our full internal dimensions, the yoga helps us on the path of our personal evolution, towards a full and harmonious life.
More slightly – but not without seriousness -, the yoga is not for me a drastic asceticism, even if personal discipline and commitment are two maitre-words, but stays an extreme pleasure, to feel good in my body and in my spirit, open and happy, in harmony not only with myself, but capable of connecting with others. It is also an intense play, between gravitational laws and strength of mind, patience and strategy, discernments and knowledge, and a desire always bigger to surpass myself and to forge ahead… Because the most incredible are that the satisfaction to have « succeeded » or « reaches » a fixed objective leads to an even bigger pleasure, to discover that the path does not stop there, but on the contrary, it always takes us further. So, let remain curious, and open to the novelty!
Good, here you go for yoga. So now, why nudity?
Combine yoga and naturism takes part to the feeling of total freedom of the body and the spirit, without any obstacle. Very often, clothes we wear represent that time, country, society, our family has imposed on us : a status, a position, an image which can completely be the expression of our personality or, on the contrary, be simply a mask put on our true self.
In naturism, movement born in the 19th century (feeds on ideas of the Age of the Enlightenment), it is a question of overtaking the simple nudity. Ifnudity remains essential there, it is far from being the only characteristic. Indeed, to be naturist, it is not only living naked. The maitre-word is respect. The XIVth international Congress INF-FNI (Agde, 1974) defined naturism as being « a way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of the nudity in common, aiming at favouring respect for itself, respect for the others and environmental protection ».
For me, these two words, harmony and respect, are particularly important and significant. Harmony and respect imply sensibility, listening, awakening, on internal and outside world, and give its social dimension to the movement. Respect and protection of others, conviviality, equality, tolerance and acceptance are de facto essential values. Thus, naturism allows outstanding people to find confidence, to accept themselves more easily, to assert themselves, and to be less afraid of other people’s opinion.
Even today, and maybe even more today, in our modern and civilized said societies, a reactionary speech, since (in excess) for a long time conveyed by the religious obscurantisms, asserts that a body is a bad thing, nudity is shameful and being nude is obviously a perverse attitude. Nevertheless, at the same moment, hypocritically, fashion plays on plunging neckline, low belt trousers, bikinis every day more and more minis, in brief, enjoys showing-without-showing, which finally arouses more than natural nudity. A clothe which hides one part of the body to expose an other one is much more erotic than the complete nudity. The hidden part arouses far more curiosity, and adds frustration and urge, which nudity refutes.
The nudity of naturists is an emancipative and healthy nudity, in the sense which it fights all the guilty-making-speeches for men and women through their body. The naturist practice is a rehabilitation of the body, all the bodies. Be naked in community, it is to accept, first of all, our own body, and represents an antidote to the complexes, to the shame and to the beauty dictatorship imposed by our consumerist world and its « values ». Accept our own body, our own image, it is to return to the essence, our real essence, our true self. So, living « au naturel« , embracing its ideals, means to return to more authentic values, and releasing ourselves from imposed social values, to be less subjected to restrictive standards, to reject the disparities, and laud the self-fulfillment of every individual, within the community, a community which represents for me a community of ideas, of values, a community of feelings.
Back to the source…
Now, if you still have enough courage left to pursue your reading, and pop over time, I would say that practising nude yoga, it also is to return to the sources! In here is the proof: the term « gymnosophy », associated with the yoga by Socrates or Platoon, is also used to qualify naturism. Intrigued? Then let us continue…
Let us go back up time and get closer to our origins. Westerners never ignored Easterners and, on the contrary, always took advantage of it. Our philosophies, values, cultures, ways of thinking, even modern medicine (!), were not born ex-nihilo! Never forget that it is the Aryans tribe, people of Central Asia, speaking the Indo-European language, which populated at the same time Greece, Iran and North of India. Speaking about my good old French ancestors les Gaulois, they are not outdone: indeed, the religion of the Druids is related to India, showing gods Gaul in three heads, as Brahma, and often in seated posture of Yoga, folded up legs.
To return to Greece and our antique history, we had plenty of contacts with India and its famous naked yogis. Socrates, for example, would have studied the philosophy with an Indian wise person. Around 326 BC, when Alexander the Great will invade India, he will see, in Taxila, a troop of Jainism naked ascetics, whom the Greek authors will call « Gymnosoph », Greek word that means philosophers or wise nudes. He will even come back to Persia with one of those ascetic, Kalanos.
Besides the economic aspects known between East and West at this period – Indian statue found in Pompeii and hundreds of Roman currencies found in Virampatnam near Pondicherry-, historic vestiges show us that all the Mediterranean Basin was very influenced by Jainism ideas. Emperor Chandragupta, 313 BC, sent Buddhists’embassies to various countries of Roman Empire. Emperor Asoka does the same around 230 BC, and a group of Buddhists even lived in Alexandria during several centuries. A text of the discussions between Greek king Menander and wise Buddhists was preserved and published. A mystic group of Israel, the Essenes, very influenced by these gymnosophs who preached the message of Ahimsa, the Central Truth of the Jainism to the people of Alexandria in Egypt, was ascetics who followed these principles of non-violence. They had a big influence on people in Palestine. Jean-Baptist was a ascetic master of this school. A certain Jesus-Christ was moreover very influenced by this non-violent group.