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Naked yoga (Sanskrit nagna yoga or vivastra yoga) is the practice of yoga without clothes. While many practice naked yoga at home and in nature, there are a growing number of participants in group classes. The practice is gaining popularity, notably in western societies that have more familiarity with social nudity.
Naked yoga should be considered in relation to the dress code at yoga courses, varying from different times and yoga directions.
Yoga has been practiced naked since ancient times. In the Bhagavata Purana it says:
The practice of spiritual nudity is common among Digambara Jains, Aghori sadhus, and other ascetic groups in the dharmic religions. A notable example is the order of sadhus known as the Nagas who use nudity as a part of their spiritual practice of renunciation. The word Nāga comes from NAG (snake) which signifies power in Hindu philosophy. The word sadhu derives from sadhana meaning spiritual practice. Members of the sect considered nudity a way of rejecting the material side of life. Celibacy and disregard of the harsh outside conditions were among the key ideas of their philosophy. They practiced naked yoga to tame their desires, identify with their physical bodies and to break the attachment with everything physical, sensual and material.
The word "gymnosophists" (naked philosophers), is used in ancient Greek writings as the designation of wise men (yogis) in India, maybe the naga sadhus.
Alexander the Great reached India in the 4th century BC. Along with his army, he took Greek academics with him who later wrote memoirs about geography, people and customs they saw. One of Alexander's companion was Onesicritus, quoted in Book 15, Sections 63-65 by Strabo, who describes yogins of India. Onesicritus claims those Indian yogins (Mandanis ) practiced aloofness and "different postures – standing or sitting or lying naked – and motionless".
Modern naked yoga is practiced in Germany and Switzerland through a movement called Lebensreform. The movement had since the end of the 19th century highlighted yoga and nudity. In the early 20th century, the term gymnosophy was appropriated by several groups who practiced nudity, asceticism and meditation.
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