Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Kiwis join naked yoga craze in exclusive Auckland suburb

Every Tuesday night in leafy Westmere, dozens of people in a dimly-lit room are stripping off and hitting the floor for an hour-long session. Photo / File
Every Tuesday night in leafy Westmere, dozens of people in a dimly-lit room are stripping off and hitting the floor for an hour-long session. Photo / File

One of New Zealand's most exclusive suburbs has joined the latest global fitness craze: naked yoga.

Every Tuesday night in leafy Westmere, dozens of people in a dimly-lit room are stripping off and hitting the floor for an hour-long session.

Since the class began last month, more than 100 people have signed up to the Auckland Nude Yoga database. In fact, Aucklanders are so keen, the nude classes are already selling out and organisers are on the hunt for a bigger venue in Grey Lynn.

"It is becoming very popular and every week there's more joining the mailing list," says the man behind Auckland Nude Yoga, who asked not to be named.

"I get countless emails every week from people seeking advice. The website is getting a lot of traction, people are curious and there are enquiries from men and women."

The man says the reason for disrobing is primarily for unrestricted range of movement, but he also points to big benefits for self-esteem. "There are lot of people with insecurities and fears about how their body looks," he said.

"Everybody has something that they aren't comfortable with and there are so many images in society of body 'perfection' that we assume we need to look a certain way to be 'normal'. The feedback from people is amazing when they share with you how they feel more confident and their insecurities are becoming less and less part of their mind. It's about all shapes and sizes, all people are welcome."

He said naked yoga had been running in Sydney for years.

In an online testimonial for the Westmere classes, one happy customer described what it was like to strip off for the first time in front of a room full of people.

"As nervous as I was, the instructor was very welcoming. After I undressed, I wrapped a towel around me and had a seat on my mat. When class started, the lights were dimmed and I removed my towel. After a few minutes, I was completely comfortable."

With 20 years' experience in yoga, the head of the group says although the movement is new - and possibly controversial for conservative Kiwis - it's declared that "this is not a peep show" and "the instructor will have no issue asking someone to leave for inappropriate behaviour".

"It's really only Western culture which associates nudity with sex. The rest of the world doesn't," he said. "I try to keep it, and myself, low-key because I also have a corporate reputation which pays my bills."

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

- Herald on Sunday

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