The naked yoga retreat

Reporting from the frontline of mindfulness.

The naked yoga retreat

I've been getting into yoga lately - naked yoga, specifically.

While the online classes and one-on-one in-studio sessions that I've been exploring have been great, I've now unlocked a new level in my foray into naked mindfulness - my first yoga retreat.

This was a yoga retreat for gay men at a clothing-optional guesthouse in Spain, so that ticks a lot of boxes for me.

The retreat was organised by the guesthouse - Finca La Maroma, in the mountains above Malaga.

What brought it to my attention was that the yoga instructor that they'd booked to lead the retreat was Gerard of Om Body Studio. Gerard was my gateway into naked yoga. I'm obsessed with Gerard.

Gerard told me that the retreat was on, the dates worked for me, I booked it - no hesitation. This felt like something that I was absolutely ready for.

Finca La Maroma is run by Mark and Tom - they moved from London to Spain when they bought the guesthouse, in a mid-life sea-change for them both. La Maroma is the highest peak in the mountain range that divides Granada from Malaga - "finca" is the Spanish word for farm.

It's a beautiful part of the world and the guesthouse consists of the original farmhouse and a number of self-contained apartments, together with a pool and a hot-tub - all looking out across a valley that was awash with wildflowers following recent rain.

To get to Finca La Maroma, you either need to hire a car or book a pre-arranged transfer - the mountain roads are a bit tricky and some local knowledge is helpful. Mark picked me up from the airport and I was soon enjoying a welcome hug from Gerard who was already poolside, naked.

It was a small group that gathered for the retreat - Gerard plus five of us following his guidance.

Meals were all provided by the guesthouse - Tom is an accomplished cook - so there wasn't anything to think about except the three sessions of yoga each day: 08:00-09:00; 10:30-11:30; and 18:00-19:00.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to with that much yoga but it was perfect. Plus, Gerard was always available if anyone wanted to practice some additional poses or have another go at anything that had been discussed.

The experience of doing yoga outside - naked - is a total game-changer. Obviously, we looked ridiculous, but feeling the sun on your skin and hearing the world around you as you're bending and stretching and breathing is really kind of magical.

What I love about training with Gerard is that there's never any judgement - he's incredibly encouraging and supportive. No one in our group was taking any of it too seriously because that was the tone that Gerard set. It was perfect for me.

I feel like my yoga has got a little better throughout the 5-day retreat but what has definitely improved dramatically is my understanding of how doing yoga regularly not only benefits my body but also my perspective on life.

I'm definitely up for another yoga retreat. I'm definitely up for more naked yoga. I'm also definitely up for more naked hugs from Gerard.

How it started

My naked yoga obsession kind of started by accident. My friend, Michael - who I'm always trying to impress - floated the idea of booking a mini-break for the two of us.

Michael has a bit of a kink for getting naked and he knows that I'm always up for any kind of naturist vibe. He thought that we could find somewhere where we could work on our all-over tans and do a bit of yoga - a gay naturist yoga retreat was what we started Googling.

Obviously, I was all for it. The catch, however, was that I'm quite rubbish at yoga - touching my toes is beyond aspirational. Michael does a lot of yoga - he once demonstrated to me how he can suck his own cock.

Not wanting to embarrass myself, a bit of online searching brought me to the online yoga classes of Gerard at Om Body Studio.

I booked a one-on-one online class to give it a try. The session was great, and Gerard was amazing - really positive and encouraging. I really enjoyed the whole experience.

I didn't stop there. I booked more classes with Gerard. I even travelled to Milton Keynes for a 1-on-1 session with Gerard - he was even more attractive in-person than he had been over Zoom.

Wanting Michael's stamp of approval, I also organised a Zoom session whereby Gerard ran a class for both Michael and I together - it was a total success.

We still haven't gotten around to booking our mini-break, but both Michael and I are now big enthusiasts for naked yoga sessions with Gerard.

Why does it have to be naked? I guess that it doesn't. Clearly, you can do yoga with clothes on, but being naked in this kind of scenario puts you in a consciously different state of being. Not only can I - and Gerard - see exactly what my body is doing, but the vulnerability of being naked in a homo-social space is somehow very freeing both mentally and physically.

The After Dark edition

If the prospect of stripping down and getting really stretched out fuels your fantasies, check out the After Dark edition for some extra motivation.

After Dark: Naked Yoga
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