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‘Europe has an extraordinary culture of nudity’: Where and why to try a naked yoga retreat

The UK-based teacher says opening up to the practice of naked yoga has broadened the minds of clients worldwide.


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit four years ago, many of us were focussed on just getting through the often unsettling time. That wasn’t the case for Matt – a yoga teacher better known as the Bearded Naked Yogi.

While online quizzes and baking sourdough bread were the activities du jour, Matt was bringing his unique brand of yoga to a wider audience.

“I have always practised naked yoga by myself and was encouraged by friends to share my practice via social media to help inspire people during those strange and troublesome times,” he tells Euronews Travel.

Since 2020, Matt has been teaching yoga – while fully naked – both online and across Europe and beyond.

It’s his mission to promote the ancient practice while encouraging people to be comfortable in their own skin, whether clothed or otherwise.

We spoke to him about the transformative power of naked yoga and how curious travellers can join his retreats in Europe.

How could a naked yoga retreat help to free your mind?

“The practice of naked yoga is as old as yoga itself (it’s known as Nagna Yoga in Sanskrit), and has a long tradition within the philosophy; it is seen as the ultimate renunciation of oneself; the discarding of clothes as signifiers of the ego and a false identity,” Matt tells Euronews Travel.

Years ago, he explains, wandering Yogis of the Indian subcontinent were well known worldwide: “Nude as the day they were born and very much absorbed into a spiritual tradition that has been continuous for thousands of years.”

However, the perception of nudity has shifted over the years.

“I think the shame and hypersexualisation that has been created around the human body in recent times is shocking and damaging,” Matt says.

While we’re unlikely to see wandering, naked Yogis on our travels, Matt says getting back to the core reasons behind practising naked yoga is still possible.

“The majority of my students come for the naked aspect, though this year I have been successfully expanding my teaching practice to include clothed classes – I always say ‘if you want to practise naked or if you want to practise clothed, the important thing is – we practise’,” Matt says.

“The overwhelming majority of people who come and practise naked for the first time soon ask themselves why they had never done so before!” PULL QUOTE

On retreats from England’s Cornish coast to Malaga in Spain, Matt tends to teach restorative types of yoga, like Hatha and Vinyasa, as well as meditation classes – all of which can be undertaken naked or clothed, depending on individual preference.

With society’s attitude to nudity as rigid as it currently is, Matt says he’s not surprised when potential clients are reluctant to strip off for a yoga class.

“I receive a lot of messages from people who want to practise naked but have hang ups or feel nervous; they want to experience the many benefits, such as increased awareness of the body, a greater sense of love for their body, but they are nervous,” he says.

In response, he tries to explain the history of the discipline and how nudity is nothing to be ashamed of.

“I always offer words of encouragement and support and highlight, in particular, that practising naked yoga is not a sexual thing, nor is the sharing of social nudity – it’s a natural way of being,” Matt says.


Where can you try naked yoga in Europe?

As well as welcoming people from across the world to his online sessions, Matt also teaches at naked yoga retreats globally. This year, he’ll be running classes everywhere from the UK to Turkey to Bali in Indonesia.

“It’s a very nomadic life and one that I enjoy very much – it is a great joy to be able to meet people from many different countries, coming together as one to enjoy our practise, sharing social nudity and forging new friendships,” he says.

With a wide breadth of knowledge of attitudes to nudity, Matt says Europe as a whole is more accepting than many other locations.

While, he says, “naked yoga – as with any style of yoga – can be practised anywhere there is enough space for a mat”, Matt says that, in his experience, “Europe has an extraordinary culture of nudity and it really varies from country to country.”

In 2014, Munich legalised full nudity in six designated areas of the city. The naturist areas are all located in parkland, giving them a degree of seclusion – but none of them are hidden away from the general public.


In the UK, France, Croatia and the Netherlands, there are a wide selection of nude beaches, open to naturists and the public alike.

In Spain, public nudity has been legal since 1988, meaning that anyone can walk naked down a street without fear of arrest, although some regions like Valladolid and Barcelona have introduced their own laws to regulate nudism – especially away from the beach where it’s seen as more socially acceptable.

“Laws around nudity vary from place to place, especially in respect of nudist beaches for example; but, from a personal perspective, the Canary Islands have an amazing acceptance of nudity, with more nudist beaches than anywhere else in Europe,” Matt says.

‘It’s a journey that will transform your life for the better’

“The journey into naked yoga is a deeply personal one – people bring themselves to the experience and all of us are different,” Matt explains.

No matter what an individual’s journey to the end goal of naked yoga looks like, though, he believes everyone can benefit from letting go.


“The most amazing thing about the joining of naturism and yoga in the practice of naked yoga is that both practices have broadly the same ‘aims’ – increased awareness of oneself, a better connection with the body and mind and a liberation from the impositions of society’s expectations upon us,” Matt says.

While he finds it hard to define the transformative nature of naked yoga, he says the theme running through the majority is “simple and very honest: ‘I feel better about myself and more connected to who I am’.”

His advice for those of us unsure about diving into the world of yoga – let alone with no clothes on?

“People are often nervous about starting yoga, let alone naked yoga, and I would always encourage someone to just try it – you don’t have to be perfect, you don’t need to be flexible, you just need to have a willingness to try and to enjoy the journey that you’re on – it’s a journey that will transform your life for the better.”

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