Nude Yoga Girl first appeared on Instagram less than a month ago. To a certain extent, her account is precisely as advertised: a girl, nude, doing yoga. But it looks like nothing else on yoga Instagram — or nudity Instagram, for that matter.
The account consists solely of dramatic black-and-white photos of the 25-year-old model and photographer doing advanced yoga poses in the buff, with expert use of shadows to keep things SFW. No mountaintops, no pine trees; no bedroom furniture or anything suggesting this is all an elaborate thirst trap. Occasionally she will wear shoes or jewelry, sometimes including fashion credits. It’s all calm, sophisticated, and as tasteful as a photo of a nude yoga girl can be.
In the past month, she’s accumulated more than 33,000 followers. People leave comments on her photos to tag friends, but also to say that they appreciate her athleticism, her photography, and her openness on topics like her formerly restrictive diet and how she found self-acceptance through yoga. As she told the Cut, “The account is anonymous, but I still want to be close with my followers, and I try to do it with my captions.”
English isn’t her native language, so Nude Yoga Girl — who even signs notes with that appellation — spoke to the Cut via email about modeling, body image, and who’s pushing the shutter button.
How long have you been practicing yoga? Where do you do it?
I’ve practiced yoga for many years and started practicing it daily this year. I got a boost of inspiration from understanding that it’s more about the feeling you get inside than flexibility and pos[ing]. I do yoga mainly at home but sometimes also in studios, and I do guided yoga classes on the internet.
What have you learned from yoga?
I’ve been working in an industry that is purely based on looks since I was 15. Yoga has taught me that the most important thing is how I feel, not how I look from the outside. During yoga classes everybody just concentrates on their practice; people don’t compare each other or care how anybody looks. When I practice yoga, I have learned to be fully in the moment, and my mind doesn’t wander elsewhere. That is precious in my busy weekly schedule.
Do you stay active in other ways besides yoga?
I do many kinds of sports in my free time — running outdoors, core workouts, and dancing are probably the main ones. At the moment yoga is the biggest part of my training.
How long have you been a photographer?
I started three and a half years ago. I’ve been really passionate about photography and Photoshopping since then. On this account, I only Photoshop the necessary things like nipples because of the guidelines.
Where and how do you take these photos?
I have a little studio at home. I put everything in place, including my camera settings and lighting, then I ask my boyfriend to take the photo when I’m ready in the pose. He is very kind to help in this.
Why black and white?
I wanted to make the photos look very simple and minimalistic; I thought black and white would work the best for this. It’s also easier to hide the intimate parts of your body with shadows. In real life we see everything in color, and by doing black-and-white photos the nudity doesn’t come across so aggressively but in a more artistic way.
Why did you want to create this account?
I always try to find new ways to express myself. I’m very inspired by yoga and photography, so I wanted to bring the two of them together in a pure way. I also love to write and give people tips for healthier and happier lives.
My biggest issue in the past was that I saw faults in my body all the time, and that made it impossible for me to love myself fully. The way you look doesn’t matter — anybody can see faults and have that feeling of not liking themselves. With my account I want to inspire people to realize that everybody is very beautiful and capable of [doing] amazing things with their bodies. Yoga helped me accept my body exactly the way it is. Nowadays people can easily get a very false idea of ideal beauty and what nudity truly means because it’s shown mostly in a sexual and unrealistic way.
Your tagline reads “You are beautiful exactly the way you are,” and you encourage positive body image. How do you think seeing someone else do yoga in the nude can help people feel good in their bodies?
I want to inspire people to try yoga, and maybe they can also find body acceptance from there. Fitness is a big trend at the moment, but it’s all about shaping your body. Yoga is about your inner feelings about yourself.
Comments on your posts range from “stunning” and “inspiring” to comments that are sexual in nature. What do you think of the messages you receive?
I’m very thankful for the amount of comments I have received — I never thought that I would get so many. I’m even more grateful that almost all of the comments show me that people understand my art and message in the right way. I’ve received so few comments of sexual nature so it doesn’t really matter.
You practice in the mornings. Do you do that practice naked?
I do yoga with my clothes on and sometimes naked. Doing nude yoga gives me a feeling of freedom. So it depends on my feeling before the yoga practice, mainly.
Have you ever taken a nude yoga class? If not, would you?
No, I have not. I have read about them, but I don’t think that a nude yoga class would be for me. The point of the account isn’t in promoting nude yoga or being able to be naked in front of others.
This interview has been condensed and edited.