by Phil
Going to a New York City public high school in the 1950's, my father was required to swim naked. At that time, swimming for males at many high schools and virtually all YMCA's was au naturel. The tradition of naked swimming began to die out in the 1960's as feminists demanded an end to single sex classes. The gay movement of the 1970's, which made people realize that there are homosexuals in almost every American family and locker room, hastened the demise of mainstream naked swimming. By 1980, it was gone.

(For more on this subject, join this Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/YMCAnaked)

I was required to shower daily at school following gym classes from 6th grade all the way to the end of high school (1975–1982). Now with concerns of sexual harassment and pedophilia rising to a fever pitch, school showers are at best optional—if indeed they're available at all.

Before homosexuality became so prevalent, American men were not so squeamish about being naked in front of one another. They were free to develop a sense of male bonding through naked swimming and other shared naked experiences without the fear of being perceived as homosexual. This kind of male bonding has largely disappeared from today's society.

I didn't grow up in a nudist household, but I saw my father naked almost every day. Our family shared one large bathroom, and my father usually stripped off casually to shower as I brushed my teeth or dried my hair. It was never exhibitionistic or sexual. Rather, he just appeared comfortable with his own body and didn't see the need to cover himself in front of his sons.

I became sexually active with men in the early 1980's. At the time, sexual liberation was defined by many of my gay friends as having tons of sex with multiple partners met in bars or bathhouses. I followed my friends' examples and had a great time.

Over the years, I came to realize that my favorite aspect of sex was the sensuality of being with another naked man—even when I wasn't touching him. In the last few years, as my teen hormones have belatedly begun to abate, my desire for male sensuality has become more important to me than sex itself.

Young men today don't have the opportunities my father had for homosensual bonding. And for most gay men, sex is the only way to experience male sensuality.

Seeking other avenues, I joined local gay nudist groups. I enjoyed their parties, but their memberships seemed to be dominated by older and out–of–shape guys. Young and in–shape guys sometimes attended as guests, but rarely joined as members. The only places I could find where young, in–shape guys hung out naked were sex clubs and private sex parties.

I wanted to create an alternative, fitness–oriented nudist community.

Having studied Yoga for 19 years, Naked Yoga seemed like a good place to start. In addition to developing or deepening a Yoga practice, Naked Yoga is a venue where men can enjoy the sensuality of a shared naked experience with other men without the pressures that often accompany sex or cruising.

Naked Yoga classes are not sex parties or orgies. However, it wouldn't be accurate to characterize them as "non–sexual." For most gay and bisexual men, it's sexy to be naked in a room with a bunch of (often very attractive) naked men. If you attend a class, you are likely see erections—sometimes quite a few erections—perhaps even your own!

Sometimes the touch of another male can be arousing, particularly during our intimate partner positions. Sometimes the mere sight of other naked men generates sexual feelings. Some participants never get erections. Others get one or several erections during the course of a class. Others are hard for virtually the whole time they're here. Hard or soft, feeling sexual or not, participants just continue following the instructor's directions and enjoying the class.

Obviously a Naked Yoga class full of gay and bisexual men is not equivalent to naked high school swimming among predominantly heterosexual males. As idyllic as casual naked daily swimming among buddies sounds, I wouldn't want to go back in time. Pre–1970's gay men faced consequences for expressing their sexuality that I'm happy I don't have to endure.

I'm not sex–phobic. In fact, I enjoy the sexual aspect of Naked Yoga classes. But more importantly I enjoy creating a naked environment where men can work, sweat and breathe deeply—a setting where men can watch, touch, hug and nurture each other without having to make each other cum. The practice of Yoga gives form to this experience, adding mental, physical and spiritual aspects to our naked sensuality. In my book, it doesn't get better than that.

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