Naked Yoga
PRIDE
PRIDE

Episode · 3 years ago

Naked Yoga

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dan Carter, aka Danimal, has been leading a naked yoga revolution in our Nation's capitol for years. And now the trend is starting to catch on across the country. How exactly does one get involved teaching naked yoga? Despite most minds assuming it would lead straight to a sexual experience, DC Naked Yoga is bringing people together in new ways, teaching them about vulnerability. Follow Danimal on Instagram and explore their site at https://www.dcnakedyoga.com/. Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @LGBT, @LGBTQ, and @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Will Sterling and Ryan Tillotson. Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

How many of you have taken a yoga class? Chances are most of you you might just be a casual class goer, or maybe you're a regular, or maybe you're a true Yogi. Whatever your personality, it's likely there's a form of Yoga meant just for you. But what if you wanted to do your yoga in the nude? I leave by chambers and from Straw hut media. This is lgbtq plus you, as we inhale lips, are clothes will scoop up the energy. A lot of you probably don't realize, but naked yoga is quickly becoming the nudest, sorry, newest way to center yourself. My name is Dan, but my students know me as d animal and I run DC Naked Yoga here in Washington DC. Dan Carter, or d animal, has been into Yoga since he was sixteen years old. So when I was sixteen years old, I had this huge crush on this girl. I wanted to go to prom with her so badly and she was obsessed with Yoga. So I was like, well, I'm obsessed with Yoga too, and I watched this dumb dvd my mom had, like over and over again. And then went to Yoga class with her and got my ass handed to me. Ya, Yoga. I was hard is it is like nineteen minutes. For me it is like ninety minutes of torture. I'd rather be on the stairmaster. My Body's just too tight. Absolutely no, and it was hot yoga too. Oh No, I was a runner at the time, so I was very tight and it was just like it basically killed me. But I got super hooked from going to all these classes with her. You know, flash forward two months and I realized I didn't really like women in that way, but I was totally hooked on the yoga and I really wanted to become a teacher back then, but I was applying to college and my parents kind of pushed me along into that. But once I graduated from college, I kind of set a personal intention to myself, like make enough money that you can become a yoga teacher. But Yoga wasn't always popular with the masses. In fact it wasn't even really introduced to the West until the eighteen hundreds, and even then it took a certain fab five, in fact the quietest beatle of all, to really bring Indian culture to the forefront of American popularity. As of just a few years ago. Yogi's have turned the spiritual art form into a profitable powerhouse, with over sixteen billion dollars being spent on yoga gear annually. Get Plus, studies have shown that Yoga can improve your sex life and your orgasms. Make Sense, people might want to do it naked. Huh, I'll have what she's having. I came to the practice about five years ago. I had this buddy who was like, I'm part of this men's group that you'll probably find really cool. You should come check it...

...out, and I'm like yeah, that sounds great, and then, like maybe ten minutes before the class, he's like, by the way, it's naked. I'll see you soon, and I was like Oh, okay, and so you just went. It was just like I'm going to do it. I mean I'm sure it was just you've done naked Toga by yourself if you're a Yogi. To be perfectly honest with you, at that point I had never done naked yoga by myself. I done it in my underwear many times, but I wasn't a naturist or a nudist or anything like that, and so I was really not sure what to expect when I went to this group, but it was like coming home or something like everyone was just so friendly and inviting and you know, I say there's a sensual element to the class, but no one was cruizy or weird. It was just it felt like community to me and like from that moment on I was hooked and five years later I now run DC naked yoga here in the nation's capital. So sure, maybe it's not the first thing you think about when you think of taking a yoga class, but naked yoga is catching on like wildfire. So I teach a weekly weekday class. That is just me because I think my students appreciate that consistency. But our weekend class, which is on Sundays, that has a rotating teacher schedule. Got It. So I have a power teacher, gentle teacher, an Oshtanga teacher, like a really old school Yogi who also plays like native American flute during class. We do massage workshops, partner workshops, we've I mean we really customize it to what the guys are asking for, and so that class is I mean that's really the gem of the program and it's it's been super cool to see that group grow so much. At Dani will yoga there's something for everyone. But, no surprise, Naked Yoga is growing in popularity, not just there but all over the country. You know, Richmond, Virginia's like a pretty small city just south of where I live in Washington DC, but they have a naked yoga group too. So these groups exist all throughout the country. They've just kind of all not had a lot of press done about them or they're a little more discreet. And I also kind of want to reshape that narrative. I want us to be able to be out and proud and even though there's an undercurrent of celebration within Naked Yoga, sometimes the pathway there isn't always the same. So when I officially left my job at the discovery channel about three years ago, what did you do it discovery just really quick? Yeah, absolutely. So I used to work at Discovery Channel. I was a digital producer for them. So I would go up to Dutch harbor, Alaska and interview the crab fisherman from the deadliest catch. I worked on Shark Week for five five seasons...

...of Shark Week got I love Sho bold, everything with diving with sharks to dressing puppies up as sharks and rolling around in them, basically. So it was a Corky job. I kind of felt like I was living someone else's dream job, though. Got It. Yeah, yeah, so this wasn't like a not like, I guess, a normal progression, right, if you're a digital content creator, you're like, I'm a content creator. Now I'm doing naked Yoga. I'm done with that. So definitely there was like there had there been something that happened where you just like clicked one day and your dream job. I had discovery, like this is not my dream job. Yeah, so a really good friend of mine died in a car accident. He just like drove off of basically a overpass, and it was really sudden. I had seen him like the day before at a bar, just like we had the most normal conversation and I was journaling really religiously at the time and I remember writing in my notebook like do it for Josh, and that was like the turning point that I knew I had to do the yoga teacher training because life's too short to keep sharing the sharks. I'm sorry, I said life is too short to just be swimming with sharks if you have a different calling. Yeah, although that a super cool, but yeah, no, that is wow, that's really intense. That that was. It was that kind of a event that had to, you know, inspire you to essentially change your whole life and pursue something else, because that's that's really scary, you know. Well, we all have those moments in life, don't we? And I think yoga brings a lot of people to those moments in life where you just kind of hit this crossroads that you're like, cannot should I keep doing the thing that makes me, you know, satiated but ultimately not fulfilled, or do, I think, do I do the thing that completely fulfills me but is a huge risk? Right? So, haven't been full time yoga teachers until recently, unless you were like a guru level right in. This is like a very new phenomenon because Yoga's kind of out a fever pitch. So do you feel like that moment in your past with your friend and losing your friend, that was what really inspired you to just kind of take the leap and do it? Absolutely that, and my fiance has always just been so incredibly supportive of this. He owns his own business as well and when these naked yoga stories started blowing up, I had just gotten back from my bachelor party. I had a small panic attack and he helped me put together like a naked yoga press kit in a day. So he's he's a huge part of it too. Well, does he take the...

...class with you? Absolutely not, so that will has to stay up right now. Yeah, I mean, Yoga's just not his thing and I think that's totally cool. We're really supportive of one another, but we're also just very independent. Yeah, it's not even the naked yoga. He's just not doing any of it. Naked Clothe doesn't matter. Oh yeah, he's not. He's not doing the clothes yoga either. So it's just not a thing. That's fine, but when something comes from a good place it's hard to deny it's going to start making waves. The press has been amazing. When ABC approached me, they told me that they'd been trying to do stories with a bunch of different naked yoga teachers and it just wasn't clicking. Or they would do the interview and then back up and be like, you can't air that. But for me, my intention for this year, or my New Year's resolution, was that I was going to be an out and proud naked Yogi, and so that's what I've been doing all years, just letting people know that this group exists, letting them know about all the benefits of it and how how much of a passion project it is for me, and I think that people just picked up on that and it just kind of exploded from there. And even though most people are in class to find balance and inner harmony, things can still get a little hard for some. More about that after the brain. To be honest, sometimes people still get bonners. It's totally fine. Everyone in the group is an adult. I mean we have everyone from the age of eighteen to sixty, excuse me, seventy in the class. We have a seven year old who joins US regularly. And you know it happens sometimes. I mean guys get turned on, they get a bonner, they usually just come down into a resting position or some guys are just chill with it and just keep going. I think the really important aspect of it is that everyone respects each other's space and you know, we're all about consent with touch, whether it's me giving the touch or we do partner poses in class, and we just keep an open line of communication. Like so much of what we're seeing in the world at this moment, communication is key. Yes, you might be surrounded by naked bodies, but there is a freedom and a vulnerability that comes with those things, and when you're vulnerable with others, you let some of your own walls down and learn to grow in directions you never thought possible. Vulnerability as a word we use a lot in the class. UNSHIELDING is a word we often use as well. You know, I love clothes. That sounds that sounds dumb, but I do. I mean I love going shopping, I love expressing myself through my clothing, but when you strip all that down, there's something just so raw about being with your own body and being surrounded by people who are also experiencing being...

...with their own body. And there are just not a lot of spaces in which anyone can be naked. I mean, Korean spas are great, I guess, but there was a time when the YMCA used to be a clothing optional pool and that doesn't exist anymore. So I think people are looking for these spaces and a big part of it is is is connecting with people when they are at this vulnerable state. I know that we have a lot of married guys in the group who are very nervous about coming in the beginning and then once they come, like they're very satiated because they're like making this vulnerable connection with other people and they're, you know, they're in a non sexual environment. So their spouses are totally fine with it. Even though it may be something a lot of people would assume might move straight towards sex, more often than not it's just about being respectful whilst naked. You know, I think we're like at a cultural touch point right now where, like, women are taking control of their bodies and are preferring not to have the male gaze on them, and so I think that's really cool. It it might have honestly been easier to start a cod class five years ago, in my opinion, right. But I will say this group is really not about that. Like I alluded to earlier, I think a lot of people, when they first come in, expect there to be a cruizy element to it, but we're really more about creating a non sexual environment in which you can be naked in and of course, you know, people have formed relationships or had hookups after the class. I'm not an idiot, I'm a realist, but the moments that people are in the class, everyone is extremely respectful and yeah, I think it's just a great environment to be naked in, though the occasional creep might still get through. I've only had one really uncomfortable situation where I was teaching a class and someone like came in very late and then they got up in the middle of the class and they sort of tried to caress my balls and because we've fostered this community, my guys like jumped on him. I mean they didn't physically jump on it felt like that to me. They instantly were like get out of here, like I didn't even have to stand up for myself because they were just like that's not what this is about. Okay, so did you just did you stop him, or were you just like I'm just gonna do a sun salutation into warrior one, like how did you deal with that? And not, you know what I mean, like to keep it professional, because you're not you're not a participant, you're the instructor. So you you know what I mean. Without I taught the class for so long before this actually happened that I think I was in shock and...

I probably paused for two or three seconds trying to gather my words, and the guys just like we're like no, this isn't happening right, because they I mean because we taught. You know, we have these regular classes, but we also have retreats and gatherings, and so we're all on the same page about what the group's about and the guys know that it is a non sexual space to be doing, to be naked together, and for that reason like it. I mean it to me. That was one of the moments that I felt like really connected to this group, that they felt like I felt like they had my back. It's important to remember that even in scenarios like this, the true colors of pride are protecting the ones you care about. So, ladies, what are your options? So right now the classes are exclusively for men. I because of all this press and the interest that I've gotten from a lot of female friends and looking into starting a co Ed class. But the truth is it's really it's really difficult to get female students as interested as male students. Now, are those maybe the male students, or gay male students, that are more interested in being naked? Well, you know, you'd be really surprised. We have a pretty good mix. Of course the majorities gay right, but we have a lot of bisexual guys, and I mean you know, people debate bisexuality. I think that's a load of crap. But like these guys are truly bisexual. A lot of them are married to women. And then we have a bunch of straight guys who are just naturists. Who Comes to the class too? Well, the hard thing about doing in all women's classes I haven't found a female instructor willing to teach it yet. Got It um, although the women who have told me they're interested in taking this class their students, who are familiar enough with me that they said they would be fine with me teaching it. I think if we are going to do that all women's class, it needs to be a female instructor. But if we do the co Ed class, I'm very happy to teach it. You heard it from DANNIML himself. If you identify as female and are looking to teach and all women's naked Yoga class, someone might be accepting resumes. So what's it like for a straight dude to go to naked yogas? In terms of straight guys, honestly, you wouldn't be able to pick them out. They're just they just fit into the group so well. And it's funny. They always email me before they come to class. I'm straight. Is All right that I come and I'm like are you all right with gay dudes and they're like yeah, and then like honestly, I forget that they are straight because I'm constantly surrounded by gay people, but they just blend right in. Or if you're trans, a long time ago, actually predating me, the found under of the group basically gave an open...

...invitation to Trans men, but unfortunately none showed up for the class. Okay, and you know, of course, trans rights have really progressed. I think trans men are feeling more comfortable in gay spaces. So we are now having that conversation again and I have a bunch of friends who identify as Trans and Gender Queer and I'm having conversations with them about how can we invite the community into the group and also how can we educate some of our members who maybe aren't as up to date on Trans Rights, Trans Equality and stuff of that nature, just so that everyone's really comfortable with that. But that's probably my number one goal, even before getting this co Ed class going. So Naked Yoga sounds pretty cool, right. If you're starting to think, yes, in fact, I would like to take my clothes off and stretch, you may be in luck. Naked Yoga is blowing up and it just might be headed your way. The goal is to share this with as many people as possible and give them those pivotal transitional moments that we were just talking about. You know, I've taught this long enough that I've seen the way that it's change some of my students life. Some of my students live of some of them. When they first started coming to the class, their bodies were, you know, in really rough shaped, they had relationship issues going on and this has been a consistent source of inspiration and just stress release for them. So I really want to share this with as many people as possible in terms of really specific actionable items. You know, I'm really refining the philosophy of it all because I want people to know what this group is about. I don't want to be wishywashy about it, but we've talked about a lot of that. And then in the future I've got retreat coming up this summer. It looks like I'll be up in New York City for world pride leading a couple naked yoga classes. Oh my Gosh, world pride there's gonna be a million naked people doing yoga. I really hope so. Yeah, there's a really great naked group up in New York called MMX, so I'm working with them right now and we're hoping to get possibly two or more classes on the schedule for world pride. So, if you're still on the fence, let's laundry list a few reasons why clothes are overrated, shall we, when you're naked you can burn more fat, it helps boost your immune system, can help you sleep better and, overall, boost your self confidence. So let's set those bodies free. Mother Nature had more in mind than tight underwear and thongs, which never made any sense. If you're looking to explore your...

...inner Yogi and want to do it by embracing your vulnerability, there's a space for you and Naked Yoga. Maybe there's even one in your city. Thanks so much for chatting with me and if you're ever in Washington DC, come, come check out class or maybe, or maybe fly me out to La. Right. Weren't you just in La? I thought you were here for CCELLO. I think you were. I visit L yeah, I visit La Pretty frequently. Okay, the next time you're here will do a class. I would love that. Maybe we'll host it at the abbey or something, not only from my TMZ. Would love that. When they drive by with their like celebrity bus trying to spot clubs, if you could help not available? We could do that. I guess that one fits a little better, doesn't it? I mean the Abbey would be a gag, but stripped, stretched and pumped. Yeah, that's pretty good. I'll honestly take any venue on that main strip of will beho anywhere that TMZ will see my ass perfect. Okay, we'll do some downward dog. All bodies are beautiful, but in order to see it you've got to believe in yourself, and in order to do that you've got to strip away a lot of the bullshit in your life. That might not always be the easiest thing to do. So why not start with your clothes? I'll Gbtq plus you is brought to you by Straw hut media. If you like the show, don't forget to rate US ON APPLE PODCASTS and be sure to leave us a review. The show can be found all across social media at LGBT, at LGBTQ and at pride. Yes, those handles are us. If you'd like to check out more of our great shows, give us a look at Straw Hut Mediacom and you can find me on social at Lea by chambers or at Gayety. Our producers are will sterling and Ryan Tillotson. Copy written and engineered by will sterling. Those fellows can be found at will sterling underscore and at Ryan Tillotson. We'll see you next week.

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