Ron Stewart believes yoga is for everyone, but you need to be brave to practise his particular style of Vinyasa Flow.
“It takes guts just to step into the room,” he says, standing inside the Deer Leap Yoga studio on his Metchosin property where he offers his signature Skyclad men’s classes — yoga practised naked.
His students move through postures free from the distraction of fabric bunching or pulling as they stretch. It’s a subtle difference, but Stewart says it changes the energy in the room.
“Stripping away our clothing, it’s like we’re also stripping away all the baggage from the outside world and we can just focus on the yoga,” Stewart says.
“The class is about taking people deep into their bodies for an hour and a half, so they get up from the final savasana (relaxation) feeling like something’s happened, even if they don’t know exactly what.”
Many of his students tell him that they forget they’re naked once they start the class.
“Everyone’s nervous their first class, but it’s never as bad as people imagine,” he says. “When we’re in a pose everyone’s looking at the ceiling or the floor, they’re not looking at each other.”
Steward developed Skyclad yoga in Vancouver six years ago with classes at Davie Street a dance studio. When he moved with his partner to Metchosin two years ago, the Vancouver classes were taken over by his former students.
But it didn’t take Stewart long to realize a former art studio attached to his new home would be perfect for a new yoga studio.
He went to work on renovations and last fall Deer Leap opened as a yoga retreat with studio space for 10, spa services and a guesthouse for overnight stays. His Skyclad sessions usually draw about six men.
Stewart’s partner Tanya Horn is studying to become a yoga instructor — to teach with her clothes on.
“We do more than just naked yoga in the studio, but that’s what we get the most attention for,” Stewart says. “For people who have done yoga for a long time, they find a whole new experience doing it naked.”
He compared it to skinny dipping in a lake: “You’re only missing your swimsuit, but wow, it makes such a difference.”
Stewart offers drop-in Skyclad yoga Wednesdays, 7 p.m., at Deer Leap Yoga, 709 Pears Rd. in Metchosin, and Mondays, 6:30 p.m., at The Yoga Shala, 1322 Broad St., in Victoria.
For details visit www.skycladyoga.com.