Naked Yoga Promises to Help Shy Men Shed More Than Inhibitions

By Mathew Katz on October 12, 2012 7:03am 

CHELSEA — Who needs $100 yoga pants...or pants at all?

Yoga instructor to the stars Joschi Schwarz has launched a men-only yoga studio in Chelsea, where eager students can stretch, twist and pose — all completely in the buff.

Le Male Yoga at 163 W. 23rd St. hosts clothed beginner power yoga classes along with the nude ones, but all are just for men. The goal, Schwarz said, is to create a safe space where men who may not be quite so flexible or experienced can do yoga with other guys.

"There are so many studios that are 90-percent women who can look like a pretzel, but here it's about creating a safety net," said Schwarz, whose celebrity clients include Emma Stone and Tyra Banks.

"We want to foster a community where men really can connect with each other."

The studio was formerly a co-ed space, but it began hosting male-only classes two years ago. Those single-sex classes quickly gained popularity when Schwarz realized there was demand for yoga classes without women, so he renamed the studio and is re-launching it later this month.

The testosterone-fueled sessions are $19 a class or $145 for a month of unlimited classes.

Schwarz, who is originally from Germany, said an added bonus is that he likes instructing men better than women.

"I know my body — it's easier for me to deal with a man's body," he said. "I connect very well with guys."

By creating an intimate, all-male environment, the studio aims to do more than give customers a workout: It hopes to foster deeper male friendships and connections in an age where relationships tend to happen online.

But the naked classes take that idea a step further.

"If you can get rid of clothes, there's nothing," Schwarz said. "There's no fancy clothes from a particular company, there's nothing left except you."

The mirror-covered Chelsea studio also lets students check their form during all their poses.

"You have to see how your body works — believe me, if you're naked, you see everything," he said.

In the future, Le Male Yoga plans to add "yogassage" classes, where instructors and students massage and manipulate each other's bodies while doing yoga.

But the studio is not entirely free of the fairer sex, as its co-owner, Monika Werner, leads some of the clothed classes.

"I love the male energy," she said.

Despite the studio's mostly gay clientele — not the mention its prime Chelsea location — Schwarz said the naked, all-male classes aren't a sexual experience, but a sensual one.

"This is a cool thing, we're all connected in our emotions," he said. "But also, when you're moving from pose to pose, you can't take your mind in a sexual direction."

For the yoga curious, the studio will host a grand opening weekend of art, cocktails, and free classes — though the trial sessions will be clothed.

"I think it's a great thing to try," Schwarz said. "Just be open minded and you can open up a little to yourself."

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