Yoga has been a form of exercise for the body and mind for quite a long time, and its main purpose is to increase the connection between the mind and body. Performing naked yoga elevates the practice further by enabling a person to become in tune with their body on a more intimate level.
TrueNakedYoga.com was brainstormed in 2017 by Producer Tom Severini and Director of Photography Gabe Bienczycki, but they did not launch the service until February 2020. The business was inspired by high-renaissance art, the love of yoga, travel, and high-quality cinematography. Much like the sculptures created by Michaelangelo, which highlight the beauty of the human body, the company has married the art form of capturing the human body and yoga.
Severini and Bienczycki met each other through a mutual friend in the dance world. Severini’s wife was a professional ballerina dancing in New York City while he worked in Philadelphia. At the time, the couple was searching for a photographer to shoot their wedding photos. Bienczycki was recommended to them by a mutual friend in the dance world, and they hired him after falling in love with his work.
Early in his career as a creative director at an advertising agency in NYC, Severini needed a photographer for a campaign he was running and reached out to Bienczycki. The photographer found himself hired by his former client, eventually beginning a life-long friendship.
Over the next 15 years, the two worked so well together that they included one another in almost every project they could. Bienczycki eventually moved to Los Angeles to further his career as a director of photography, and Severini left the agency he was working for to start his own production company.
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Years later, a career opportunity in the digital space presented itself to Bienczycki, and this opportunity required a producer. Bienczycki went on to hire Severini after a long separation, and the pair was back to working together again. “We were becoming so in sync with working together that companies began hiring us together as a team. We both started bringing in projects for large corporations, and there were barely enough days in the week,” said Bienczycki.
As a retired dancer, Bienczycki started practicing yoga to maintain his physical abilities with low impact and learn how to focus his mind. “It was a perfect solution to keep my body in shape that quickly turned into a way of life,” he said. He carefully films each session to emphasize the intimate experience that naked yoga provides. The videos highlight the beauty of the human body, but their goal is not to sexualize or objectify. Although naked yoga can also improve one’s ability to connect intimately with another.
“There should be nothing shameful about a naked human body. I think we can safely say that all of the negative thoughts we have about ourselves are harmful and should be put behind us. Naked yoga is a great tool for doing just that,” Severini stated. Since it is rare to see nudity in a non-sexual context, they aimed to create a service that presented yoga authentically, while also showing the beauty and purity of the human body in a way that does not objectify it. Before, no naked yoga platform successfully taught naked yoga without sexualizing the human body.
Severini started practicing yoga in 2015 and eventually added naked yoga in 2017. “[Naked yoga] has brought a renewed sense of balance to my life. I initially started yoga to help relieve stress and regain the flexibility that I had lost from being on the road working so many hours,” he commented.
Eventually, Severini and Bienczycki founded their online library of instructional yoga videos in February of 2020. At first, only a handful of videos were available. With gyms and fitness clubs shutting down due to the pandemic, however, their business quickly became a success, enabling them to add more content quickly.
It is more than clear that working remotely in any capacity is becoming the norm due to the pandemic. Reducing stress, exercising, and maintaining self-care have become significantly more important than ever now that people are stationary more often. Earlier in the pandemic when gyms and fitness clubs closed, maintaining physical and mental health became more challenging. Naked yoga offers the opportunity to maintain both mental and physical health for a person without any formal equipment.
Many people who use the company’s offerings have seen significant progress. “The idea that you already have to be fit to practice yoga I feel is a myth. I was 345 pounds and found huge benefits when I started and still do. I appreciate the investment of time and resources [this service has] put into advancing a more natural yoga practice…I appreciate your careful camera work and avoiding the gratuitous ‘goodies shots’ that so many naked yoga videos use to generate views. So much porn is being produced in the name of yoga it’s getting ridiculous. Thanks for not joining the crowd,” one subscriber wrote.
The platform’s yoga instructors hail from all over the world. Each instructor goes through a careful screening process designed by a certified yoga instructor—Jannica— and must submit an audition video based on strict guidelines. With decades of experience practicing yoga and other various forms of holistic medicine, Jannica has helped create a dignified hiring process to ensure that each instructor is accustomed to naked yoga and serious about guiding people through its meditative and holistic process. Her goal is to ensure all the teachers are able to help people discover and connect with themselves through the process more.
“Practicing naked yoga can help you discover a new way of looking at your body, inspiring you to take pride and pleasure in your unique physique and capabilities. It teaches you to embrace your imperfections and open your heart to yourself and to the world with courage and confidence. Feeling good psychologically is a powerful immune booster, and everyone knows that when we feel better mentally, we feel better physically as well,” Jannica said.
Severini and Bienczycki’s mission is to provide resources to aid at-home workout routines and present the art form of naked yoga in an ethical and dignified way. One of the company’s goals is to help people accept their bodies, grow confident in themselves, and guide them through a nourishing process that ventures beyond exercise. They offer various levels of difficulty for naked yoga that are all taught in beautiful natural environments by nude yogis. The lessons are presented with gentle voice guidance and shot from a variety of angles in aspirational locations.