Why Naked Yoga at Home Was the Natural Next Step in Jessamyn Stanley’s Evolution
Body-inclusive yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley didn’t set out to become a naked yogi when she started practicing yoga over 10 years ago. But today, doing downward dogs, wheels, and all variety of twisting, stretching, or strengthening yoga poses fully or partially nude is an integral part of her practice and her career as an instructor.
“It’s not just about being naked,” Stanley says. “It’s about really peeling off the layers that make it hard for me to experience my most true self.”
For those uninitiated, Stanley has been at the vanguard of body inclusivity in yoga since the mid-2010s. As a larger-bodied Black woman, posting her yoga content on Instagram helped popularize the notion that anyone can do and teach yoga—not just thin white women, as had been the norm in the West for the prior 15 years. That ethos is still the bedrock of her practice, with a twist: nudity.
Most mornings after journaling, Stanley starts the day doing naked yoga at home in her personal studio. She also has an OnlyFans channel where she broadcasts naked classes to subscribers. But it wasn’t always this way. When Stanley began practicing yoga, she says wearing compression garments that made her feel “sucked in” and “sleek” was important. But she eventually found clothes to be an impediment.
“What I noticed over time is that clothes actually just made me feel really uncomfortable and that I couldn’t get in touch with my body,” Stanley says. Soon, a full yoga outfit turned into a loose shirt and shorts turned into underwear and an old bra turned into… nothing.
“It’s more like I start wearing clothes and then I just get annoyed with the clothes and I gradually shed them,” Stanley says. “I don’t identify as a nudist. I don’t just want to be naked all the time. It’s very much like this particular article of clothing is driving me crazy, and therefore I have to take it off.”
However, practicality has given way to something deeper.
“There’s a piece for me of self-acceptance that’s been really crucial through practicing yoga naked—actually looking at myself and noticing the way that I’m put together,” Stanley says. “Then that self-acceptance leads to a deeper practice of the postures.”
For example, Stanley says not wearing compression yoga pants lets her manually adjust the position of her belly and fat rolls so that she can bend or twist deeper and ultimately enjoy the pose more.
“In the naked yoga classes, I’ll say things like, pick up your butt cheek, move it to the side, or pick up your skin fold, or whatever the thing is,” Stanley says. “Being able to make those adjustments and literally physically go deeper into the postures, I feel that it leads to deeper spiritual awakening.”
How to dip your toe—or fully jump—into doing naked yoga at home
Stanley’s advice is to notice the items of clothing that may be causing discomfort and to experiment with taking them off in your home practice. You can go one item at a time if you want to ease into a naked practice, or (in a warm room) try getting naked with yourself and seeing how you feel.
This may lead to some initial discomfort that has to do with working up a sweat without the convenience of sweat-absorbing clothing. You could find yourself noticing some smells or more sweat than usual. It can be helpful to have a towel or blanket for padding handy, use a non-stick mat, and remember that it’s just you and your body: No one is there to judge.
“There’s so much shame around the naked body, and being in a space where people don’t have to feel ashamed of themselves is a really beautiful thing,” Stanley says of her experience doing naked yoga, especially in the OnlyFans community. “To say that you own your body, you don’t have to apologize for your body, you don’t have to be ashamed of your body, and you can really get to know it—that’s a place of power that you can live your life from so that everything else is stemming from this place of sovereignty and ownership of self.”
If you are finding naked yoga an uncomfortable proposition to sit with, seek out a virtual naked yoga class like Stanley’s, she says.
“Seeing another naked person I think can be helpful, and I do think that seeing a fat naked person is helpful,” she says. “If you have any kind of concern about your body or if you are the type of person to compare your body to somebody else, and maybe you’re worried about looking at somebody who’s thin and feeling intimidated or ashamed or something, go look at the fat yoga person on OnlyFans and you will feel at home.”
There are also in-person naked yoga classes, but this may be a little more intimidating than solo time for people new to naked yoga. Stanley also prefers doing naked yoga at home because it is the time where she gets to know herself and her body, on her own terms.
Most of all, she encourages people to bring a playful, joyful point of view to the experience. Get ready to laugh at yourself, and notice what comes up for you.
“Naked yoga is for everybody,” Stanley says. “Have fun, enjoy yourself, and love your body through this practice.”