On any given Sunday afternoon, Mount Pleasant Street in Northwest Washington is bustling with people zooming from one place to another – dog walkers, bicyclists, neighbors.
But, at the corner of Mount Pleasant and Park Road, inside of a yoga studio, there's a group of men working to silence all of the noise. The noise from the busy D.C. streets and the noise from within.
Naked yoga is about to begin.
When they walk in one by one for Sunday afternoon class, they greet the teacher Dan Carter. Carter, who brands his business as Danimal Yoga, gently welcomes his students with a brief chat.
As class begins, each student starts shedding layers of clothing baring it all.
"I think that moment we take off our clothes is so pivotal to the entire class. I’m a big Marie Kondo fan, and so I like to thank everything even if it’s not alive," Carter said. "So I fold my clothes up into little squares and say thank you for keeping me warm. Then I go to my mat, and I just sit with my body for a moment."
For this specific class, they've been told ahead of time that cameras will be in the room for a filming of naked yoga. Not many of them are shy about it.
"Let's start by grounding ourselves. Take a moment and come to a comfortable position, whatever that looks like for you," Carter says to the class. "Close your eyes and take this opportunity to let everything that has happened to you just melt away. Each of us have a voice in our head. If you're voice is anything like mine, sometimes it doesn't say the nicest things."
The class takes off with some light stretching and meditation.
Naked yoga is a growing trend around the country and in D.C.
If you've ever done yoga, you know there are many benefits that come along with practice. It can relieve stress, help with pain and connect you to the present moment.
Carter says naked yoga allows a deeper connection with your body and soul. "The number one email I get is my body type isn’t a yoga body," Carter said. "I have students who are 20 years old, and I have students who are 80 years old. All body types and all racial backgrounds. None of that matters when you walk into the room. You just are who you are."
Each of his classes have about 15-25 male students. Right now, it's an all male class. “It is a group of primarily gay and bisexual men," Carter said. He hopes one day they can have a co-ed naked yoga class.
As of now, there are only a few naked yoga instructors in D.C. Coach H. Alejaibra Badu, founder of The Madison House, is also teaching naked yoga from the comfort of his home.
"I still can't believe I teach naked yoga," Badu said. "If I can give you space to catch your breath and you can breathe in your truth. A lot of times it's a hard hard world out there."
When asked how he responds to skeptics, Carter said, "I would say shut your curtains, take off your clothes, thank them and do a little naked yoga on your own. Just notice if you can hear things in your body that you have never done before and then if you’re curious – give me a call, and I can hook you up from there."