Naked yoga is a thing. Who knew? Why in the world would someone want to do yoga naked? According to proponents of this unorthodox form of exercise, naked yoga boosts self-esteem, improves body image, and enhances the mind-body connection. While that may sound lovely, you may want to think twice if you have the urge to practice your downward dog pose au naturel. Because apparently, getting arrested while doing naked yoga is also a thing. Again, who knew?
There are so many questions to be asked. Why yoga in the buff? What makes a person think, “I’d like to take off my clothes and do yoga in public?” Is this a new phenomenon, or have news outlets just begun to cover naked yoga in the last ten years? Are we going to continue to see this open-air practice, or is naked yoga in public just a fad? It’s a mystery. But it’s definitely a thing.
10 West Covina, California
The first documented case of this bizarre behavior seems to have occurred in a suburb of Los Angeles County at Cortez Park. The park boasts a spacious greenway featuring baseball and football fields, a picnic gazebo, and children’s play structures.
On the morning of February 17, 2013, police responded to several 911 calls reporting that an unnamed woman had been seen taking off her clothing in the park. By the time officers arrived on the scene, the woman was fully nude and had begun practicing yoga. The female suspect was later identified as Eleanor Ferrer, 19. She was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure. No information was given regarding Ferrer’s state of mind at the time of her arrest.
9 Ocala, Florida
With Florida in the title, who knows where this one will lead? On July 10, 2014, a woman was arrested after she was found doing naked yoga on a highway in Marion County, Florida. According to witnesses, the woman was wearing nothing but her panties and had begun doing yoga exercises in the middle of Sanchez Street, just a few blocks from a middle school. Police responded to 911 reports at approximately 3:40 pm that day. Witnesses also reported that the suspect appeared to be intoxicated.
The suspect, identified as Michelle Rene Cernak, 51, had been driving a Chevy GMC pickup truck, which she parked but left running. She exited the truck, stripped off her clothes, and began doing yoga in the middle of the street about ten feet away.
Unfortunately for Cernak, police searched her truck and found quite a lot of drugs, which could account for the naked yoga. To be clear, Cernak was not charged at the time of her arrest for doing naked yoga, but she was charged with several counts of felony drug possession.
8 Laconia, New Hampshire
In May 2016, Ginger Pierro decided to do some topless yoga on the beach at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. She was approached by police officers who advised her that they had had several complaints about her doing “nude yoga.” According to police, they asked her several times to put on a top or cover herself, and she refused. She was arrested and charged with violating a Laconia ordinance that requires women to cover their breasts while in public.
Pierro, along with two other defendants who were arrested that same weekend for baring their breasts in public, appealed their convictions. In 2019, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld their convictions, finding that the ordinance did not discriminate against women. It turns out that Pierro and the other defendants were part of the “Free the Nipple” movement that seeks to make it legal for women to go topless in places where men are permitted to go shirtless.
7 Aurora, Colorado
On June 5, 2017, at about 6:45 am, Aurora police received a 911 call from a concerned citizen who reported that a naked man was in the street doing yoga. An officer reportedly responded promptly to the call but was unable to find anyone fitting that description. However, the officer did locate a pile of men’s clothing outside a nearby business.
The items reportedly found included a pair of pants, a shirt, socks, underwear, and a pair of Nikes. According to the responding officer, the items recovered were “tagged as evidence.” The open case was filed under indecent exposure, and the police released a report later in the day indicating that there was a “naked yoga enthusiast on the loose.”
6 Jacksonville, Florida
On July 11, 2017, Jesse Negron, 33, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. Police were flagged down on a street near Negron’s home to respond to a report that someone was running around naked. Witnesses told police and reporters that the man had been dancing and doing yoga in the middle of the street.
Negron’s neighbors were very concerned about his behavior given that there were children in the neighborhood. One neighbor described him as “a character” and believed he meant well, adding that he was a “good landscaper.” (Nope, not going there.) The arresting officer stated that Negron did not appear to be intoxicated and had no history of mental health issues. Florida again—must be the heat!
5 Haverhill, Massachusetts
In July 2018, a Massachusetts man, Eric M. Stagno, 34, was charged with indecent exposure, lewdness, and disorderly conduct after he was arrested at a Planet Fitness in nearby Plaistow, New Hampshire. Witnesses reported that Stagno entered the gym and took his clothes off at the front desk, leaving them in a pile there before he walked back and forth across the gym. He settled on some yoga mats and began doing “yoga-type poses.”
It’s better not to imagine what sort of poses he was doing. In Stagno’s defense, when confronted by police officers, he reportedly told them that he thought Planet Fitness was supposed to be a “judgment-free zone,” citing the gym’s slogan, which would obviously allow him to exercise in the nude.
4 Portland, Oregon
In July 2020, a Black Lives Matter protester who received the moniker “Naked Athena” was photographed at a protest wearing only a knit beanie and face mask as she faced off with a line of police. The photographs received national attention and depicted her doing various yoga poses.
Although the woman was never identified or arrested, she spoke with several press outlets anonymously. She called herself “Jen” and reported that she believed being naked and doing yoga poses would show police how vulnerable people were. Huh? Okay. Maybe? She called nakedness her “expression,” and the poses, she said, were in response to being shot with rubber balls on her feet.
3 Leicester, England
If you thought this trend was just a crazy American thing, think again. A man convicted of four counts of indecent exposure was ordered by a judge to be detained in a psychiatric hospital in September 2021. In a bizarre report, the man, while wearing a rabbit mask, exposed himself to a group of firefighters after they intervened when they saw him harassing a woman on the street. On another occasion, the man allegedly was seen doing yoga naked near the clock tower in the center of town. Onlookers apparently included families with children.
The man was identified as David Rosen, 51, and appeared before a judge who noted that Rosen had a long history of psychiatric issues and hoped he would get the help he needed.
2 Knoxville, Tennessee
On December 8, 2021, a Knoxville woman was arrested after taking off her clothes and doing yoga in front of a business located on North Broadway. Witnesses reported that the woman also prevented employees at John Bailey Insurance from leaving the building by lying in front of the door.
By the time police arrived on the scene at 5 pm, the suspect, Lisa Breeden, 47, was found in the parking lot outside the business and had put her clothes back on. According to a report filed by police, Breeden “was unsteady on her feet, had slurred speech, had bloodshot watery eyes, and nodded off multiple times while officers tried to speak with her.” The reason for her yoga antics was not clear.
Breeden was charged with disorderly conduct.
1 Bali, Indonesia
In May 2022, Alina Fazleeva, a Russian yoga influencer, ran into some trouble after doing a nude photo shoot comprised of various yoga poses in front of a sacred tree in Bali. The tree, a 700-year-old weeping paper bark known as Kayu Putih, is located inside the Babakan Temple grounds.
Fazleeva reportedly has thousands of Instagram followers. After posting one of the images to her account, locals became enraged over the nude photo. Fazleeva found herself faced with the prospect of a six-year jail sentence and a possible $100,000 fine for violating local pornography laws. The photo was quickly deleted by Fazleeva, and she issued a public apology. The yoga influencer was ultimately deported and banned from entering Bali for six months.