Welcome to our next installment of the Pink Pages Q&A, where we talk to interesting people doing interesting things. (We are thinking Q&A can stand for both “question and answer” or “queer and awesome.”)
Today’s Q&A is with Ron Stewart of Skyclad yoga. I couldn’t help but want learn more after my last Q&A with NiQ when she mentioned that one of the most interesting events on her LGBTQ calendar was for naked men’s yoga.
Jes: Why practice yoga naked? How is it different from practicing with your clothes on?
Ron: Practicing yoga Skyclad or “dressed in the quarters of the sky” invites us to look at our bodies in a new way: functional, structural, animal, sensing & evolving. Part of that is how we physically feel our bodies when we are moving and breathing with awareness and intention, while naked. Skyclad heightens our ability to be attuned to subtle shifts and physical sensations allowing us to find a deeper experience. That awareness is what yoga is about for me.
People have told me about overcoming negative body image issues and finding greater self esteem and confidence. Where some have unconsciously associated nudity with sex there is a chance to develop separation of the two, resulting in a broader way of being in the world, a healthier respect for their bodies, their sexual expression and boundaries.
Jes: I know that one of the fears that especially beginners have about going to any yoga classes is that other people will be looking at them and possibly judging them for not being not flexible/strong/thin enough. I can only image this fear could be worse when wearing less clothing!
Ron: Everyone was nervous the first time they came to class. I remember the first class I taught, about half way through I laughed because the nudity got lost. Everyone was focusing on their practice. Once the class starts people see that naked is actually very normal and the liberating feeling of moving intentionally nude, dispels those fears. Fears keep us in small boxes. Live Large!
Jes: Who comes to Skyclad yoga classes?
Ron: All kinds of people attend Skyclad classes, men and women, queer, straight and all body types. I’m always amazed at the fact that many people coming in are new to yoga so yes, my classes are beginner friendly.
Jes: I know you also have other parts to your business, including massage, retreats, workshops. Are there any upcoming events that our readers should know about?
Ron: “Back to the Body” is a sensual women’s retreat that I host with writer and blogger Pamela Madsen (NY) and Will Fredericks (Stl) Our next one Jan 31-Feb 4 is sold out, we have 3 spaces left for May 16-20. We aim to do 6 a year plus couples retreats to meet the growing interest in women embracing their eroticism.
I’m also hosting an Equinox Retreat for men in the Courtney/Comox region March 23, 24.
Monthly Massage nights have been popular, next one? Feb 22nd.
Jes: What’s your favourite thing about Victoria’s queer community? What’s one thing you’d change?
Ron: The people I’ve met in Victoria’s queer community are bright, independent and welcoming. Having said that I feel it is difficult to find the community’s heart. With a city so small it’s challenging to have queer focused business thrive. I’m appreciating how larger cities have a queer neighborhood where people can gather, be social.
If you have a suggestion for our next Q&A, leave it in the comments!