Naked Yoga's Dan Carter :: Shed Away Your Last Layer (of Clothes)

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday February 11, 2020

Dan Carter wants you to shed away your last layer (of clothes).

"DC Naked Yoga allows men to set aside their clothes and self-image to explore a more intimate connection with their body and mind," reads the company's website. At their Washington DC location Carter leads "the largest and most social nude yoga group in the city."

Known as Danimal to his friends, Carter has been practicing yoga for 12 years after it gave him a sense of belonging during his turbulent high school years. His love of yoga led him to leave his job at The Discovery Channel to pursue yoga four years ago. He is an ERYT-500 who graduated from Flow Yoga Center's 300-hr training.

"For me yoga means community," he writes on his website. "When I moved to Washington D.C. I found myself drinking too much and not exercising nearly enough. Reigniting my practice provided me with motivation, routine and friendship; I even credit it for leading me to my partner Cassidy. Since then I've leaned on my practice when tragedy strikes and it has continued to heal and drive me."

An animal lover (he calls his friends his "pack") and an active member of the DC LGBTQ community who works with and teaches many LGBTQ groups in the city and is a big support "and sometimes participant in the drag community."

"My students leave class getting a great workout, a deep stretch, and finding community where they might not have been expecting it. My pack is for anyone who wants to be a part of it," he writes on his website.

EDGE spoke with Carter recently about yoga, how he was tricked into attending his first naked, male yoga class, and the answer to the most frequently asked question about what might happen when there are 20 naked men in a room together.

Tricked into naked yoga

EDGE:: How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started?

Dan Carter:: I started when I was 16, so I have been practicing for 12 years now. How I got started is actually a funny story. I wanted to go to prom with this girl and she was really into yoga, so I kept going to a yoga class with her until I realized I didn't like girls in that way, but I still really liked yoga.

EDGE:: What inspired you to begin leading all-male naked yoga class?

Dan Carter:: I kind of got tricked into it. My first class that I attended. A friend texted me and said I am going to a men's yoga class and I think that you will really enjoy it. I thought it sounded great, so I signed up and paid for the class. On the day of the class, he texts me and says, 'by the way it's a naked yoga class. See you soon.' I went and it was amazing. Everyone was very welcoming. Within a couple of weeks, I was teaching the class and within a couple of years I was running it. I actually inherited it; it was not my creation.

EDGE:: How many students usually attend a class?

Dan Carter:: It really varies. We have 5 classes per week. We have anywhere from 10 to 20 students in attendance.

What happens when?

EDGE:: I'm also not sure I could just take off all my clothes in a roomful of strangers.

Dan Carter:: Some of the students are nudist who have always been comfortable being naked. Some are just looking for a space that is male-centric and gay, although we do have men of all sexual orientations. We do have a growing number of people who are just curious about it. I do encourage the first-timers to do a little naked yoga in the privacy of their own home before coming to a class.

EDGE:: What happens if someone gets an erection in class?

Dan Carter:: That is our #1 question. It happens a lot less than you would expect. We work the students pretty hard, so it's difficult to get erect during the class. Occasionally, it happens at the beginning or end of class. So, guys are just comfortable to let it go full mast and others will just get into a full resting position and wait until it goes down.

EDGE:: What do you see as the unique benefits for teaching naked yoga?

Dan Carter:: I think that there is a couple of benefits. From a practical perspective, being able to focus on muscles, joints and bones is a huge benefit. I also think there is a more philosophical and emotional aspect to it, especially when you shed away your last layer (your clothes). There is a vulnerability that comes with taking the classes. I believe you experience emotions that you are not used to. I think it helps to see who you really are and able to fall in love with yourself. It is a really powerful experience.

Creating a community

EDGE:: What kind of impact are you trying to have teaching a naked yoga class?

Dan Carter:: For me, it is about creating a community. I know that is why most of the guys come. There is something really special about this group. It doesn't feel surface-level or phony. It is all about supporting each other and joining in on each other's journeys. People come for all kinds of reasons but end up creating community for themselves.

EDGE:: There are some out there who are not going to be able to wrap their heads around nudity. What is your message to them?

Dan Carter:: The stigmatization of nudity is really a more modern phenomenon. If you back to the 1950s and 1960s, the YMCA had nude swimming areas for men. I think it is important to have nonsexual naked spaces, because the naked body is the most natural form. There is nothing wrong with not wearing any clothes. I think it is actually wrong to wear them.

EDGE:: Favorite pose and why?

Dan Carter:: It changes daily. Right now, I love bridge posture. It is a very basic backbend pose. It is a posture that we all can benefit from. It also tones up your butt, which no one ever complains about that.

EDGE:: What do you find rewarding about being a yoga instructor?

Dan Carter:: Before becoming a yoga instructor, I was working at the Discovery Channel. Don't get me wrong, it was a very rewarding job, but I always felt like I lacked human contact. I really wanted to be in a space where I was actually having more human interactions. Being an instructor is a 100% more rewarding than any job that I could do.

For more information on Dan Carter and his studio, visit visit his website.