Normally, sitting nude among several other naked men wouldn’t be an opportunity for me to build my self-esteem. Especially when I am contorting my body into strange positions at the request of the man at the center of the room. The extremely fit, and stark naked, man told me exactly how he wanted me to position my naked body; downward-facing dog, warrior one, warrior two, I was sweating even more than I usually do when I strike those poses.
“Nude guy yoga really is about self-image and building self-confidence in a safe and comfortable environment,” said yoga instructor John Cottrell. “In addition to all the other physical and mental-health benefits, nude yoga helps everyone see that not everyone is perfect like the men on magazine covers. I think there’s a real problem with low self-esteem in the gay community.”
As I moved through the poses and listened to the sultry voice of the instructor telling me to remember to breathe deeply, the nakedness of the moment became secondary. It wasn’t as much about being nude, as it was about trying to focus on my center.
“A lot of people wonder if it’s about sex. And while yoga is very sensual and even sexual, this is not a place for sex,” Cottrell said.
He has been a professional yoga instructor for about 14 years, and has been leading nude guy yoga classes for about six years.
“I like the nude yoga classes for a variety of reasons; it helps me be a better teacher because I can see the exact positioning of your body,” Cottrell said. “I also like to do it to help people show that being nude is not always about sex. Yes, sex is one thing you can do while you’re naked. But that’s not the only thing you can do.”
Becoming aroused is very common, but holding the erection is not, Cottrell said.
“If you become aroused, the most that will happen is a wink from the other guys,” he said.
The power yoga teaches can be physically draining and that usually helps people prevent arousal, he said.
Cottrell is familiar with a large variety of different yoga techniques, but he said he focuses on power yoga in the nude classes, which involves a lot of movement. It is very dynamic in nature, and can help burn calories while helping on balance, focus and flexibility.
“None of the classes I teach are the exact same,” Cottrell said.
Yoga is often associated with the practice of postures as a form of exercise, Cottrell said. The Hatha Yoga is a common form that Cottrell teaches and power yoga is a derivative of the Hatha Yoga.
“Hatha Yoga is the combination of breath and movement,” he said.
Cottrell, a California native, came to Utah for a psychology internship and stayed for the skiing. As he began taking yoga classes, he realized that he was better than your average yogi. He took the training necessary to begin teaching classes. And now he owns his own business and teaches out of the Centered City Yoga studio.
In addition to nude guy yoga, Cottrell teaches a weekly all men’s class and a variety of other classes for all skill levels.
“Probably the best way to get started is to take private instruction with me for a few sessions and then you’ll be familiar with some of the poses going into a group class,” Cottrell said.
He manages two websites, mbody.org and mbody.me. The websites have contact information, class schedules and other information.