Free Bird and the Downward Dog: In Defense of Naked Yoga
Ideally Yoga is performed in the open air. The effects when practiced in the country, forest, mountains or by the sea are exhilarating. But, for those living in the city, an airy room with a sense of space should be used. It must be scrupulously clean and free from outside distraction. In summer the exercises should be practiced in front of an open window, and even in winter the windows should have been fully opened for at least a minute before starting. But, under no circumstances should the risk of catching chills in low temperatures or draughts be taken.
Remember always that Yoga seeks to achieve a sense of balance. Extremes destroy the sense of proportion you will begin to experience and develop. The only item you may find useful, if not essential, is a mirror, preferably reaching to the floor, so that you may see and correct yourself when performing the postures. Yoga, except when an experienced teacher is available, is best practiced alone. Alone, you will be free from the distraction of any desire to be better than others or from any worry about being less able. Alone, you will slowly become aware of yourself and begin to know your body and your mind.
The body must be naked. It has both form and sensitivity, both of which are destroyed by clothing of any kind, particularly Western clothing, which is generally thoroughly constricting. Yoga aims to improve the form and sensitivity of the body and there must be no distracting factors.
As you stand naked in front of the mirror, you will become instantly aware of more or less serious distortions of your body. In profile, perhaps a tendency to a bulging stomach or rounded shoulders; full-face, perhaps just that, perched on top of a pear! Yet, in spite of these distortions--which your practice of Yoga will cure--the lines all follow natural unbroken curves. To control and re-define these curves they must not be broken up by clothing.
The skin, internal muscles and organs are capable of extraordinary sensitivity to external variations. It is through these and the other senses that we become aware of the awe-inspiring, kaleidoscopic richness of the Universe. The clothes we wear serve to protect the body from harmful variations in the environment, such as extremes of heat and cold, but, unfortunately, they also destroy its sensitivity. The body is the vehicle of the mind, the instrument through which it perceives. To enrich these perceptions and thus the quality of information available to the mind, Yoga develops the sensitivity of the body. It must not be hindered by clothing.
Practice Yoga naked.