Yoga is ubiquitous in the modern age. Everywhere you look there is a Bikram studio or power yoga class and pop stars and grandmas alike get down with downward dog; amazing, considering just a few generations ago, yoga was a closely guarded secret, hidden in the ashrams and temples of India. Beginning in the late Victorian age and fully blossoming by the groovy Hippie era, a few great teachers broke national and linguistic barriers to bring yoga out of the closet and to the West. But now that yoga is everywhere, do we even understand what it is?
Yoga, from the Sanskrit syllable ‘yug’, translates to something like ‘union’. It is a systematic art(science) for the reunification of body and soul. While commonly seen as an exercise program to increase flexibility, that is merely the ground floor, and simply a preparation for the more advanced practices, which at their zenith are nothing less than magical. Somehow, somewhere between the gyms and nylon shorts, yoga in the West has lost this central facet, and become a workout fad, which is truly unfortunate, for while ripped abs and cardiovascular endurance are great, they pale in comparison to the wonders of the focused third eye, or an opened, blazing heart chakra.
Since ancient times, yoga (and other pre-Sanskrit spiritual technologies) has been utilized by those who wish to actualize their true potential. And they did so without the benefit of stretchy $80 pants or polyvinyl chloride mats. And many of them did so au naturale.
Digambara is a Sanskrit term which may be translated as ‘clad only in the quarters of the sky’. To those speaking English, that may mean ‘naked’, but there is a very interesting difference between the two concepts. Digambara doesn’t mean ‘naked’; it means you are wearing the environment. Instead of closing off one’s self with clothing, defining one’s self with name brands or cultural iconography, digambaras are clad in infinity, defined by nothing save limitless possibility.
The not-wearing of clothes in Western culture is a very taboo subject, perhaps firmly rooted in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve; who after eating of the Forbidden Fruit of knowledge, were banished from the Garden and shammed by their nakedness. Even to this day it is illegal to be without clothing in public, more so for women (who must wear tops) then for men (who can go without them). What a horrifying undercurrent; that your body is automatically wrong and sinful, and must be covered from the light of the sun!
I teach a class called Digambara: Skyclad Yoga for Men(for the record, I have tried to host female classes, but to no avail, though I certainly think a heroic yogini could and should make that happen for the ladies, and maybe one day we will all be advanced enough in our gender issues to practice all together). I have been teaching it in various interations here in Richmond for the last four years, after learning the craft from Aaron Star and Darren Main in New York City, San Francisco and Costa Rica. Let go of self-limiting beliefs and strip down to the bare essentials, grow and stretch and become powerful in your body! In yoga philosophy, human beings are Divinity manifesting in a finite form. Your body and mind are temples inhabited by Divinity(who you really are). Instead of feeling shame for our condition, being born human is a chance to realize your Divinity in a body, to reunite, to yoga!
In my opinion, skyclad yoga should be the gay international sport: everyone can participate, it’s non-competitive but infinitely self-challenging, and it is a unique opportunity to enjoy the intimate, unclothed company of other men in a non-erotic context. Erections are a part of life, and can and do happen! Nothing to be ashamed of! That said, Digambara is essentially a yoga class without clothes, not an orgy! The mind and body must be focused just to keep up with the flow, so you probably won’t even notice all the sweaty bodies around you after a while. For those 90 minutes, we are there to explore breath and body in a non-sexual manner. If anyone threatens the sanctity of that time and space, they will be removed from the class(not that there is anything wrong with sex, as I will be exploring in my next few articles, but everything in its season!).
With that said, I look forward to sharing the practice with you, my brothers!
You can find out more about LeVar’s classes here
Just as white light contains the seven frequencies of the rainbow, so too is the case in the human body, codified in a system of chakras.May 8, 2011
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