The Irish Naturist Association meets on a Dublin beach to practise martial arts on Sunday mornings. It’s all about getting closer to nature
If you go down to White Rock Beach by Killiney Hill in Dublin early on a Sunday morning, you can watch the sunrise. Go a little later and you might see a moon instead, because that’s when the Irish Naturist Association likes to practise naked Qigong.
Nestled below a steep cliff, secluded from view, the beach is dappled with seaweed and naked participants jumping and crouching to the polyrhythmic pulse of handheld drums.
Qigong is a mostly slow-moving martial art. The class’s teacher, Nathalie (31) says that while the more commonly known Tai Chi works by moving energy around, Qigong focuses on “inner energy work”.
“If you have a pipe and it’s blocked, nothing circulates,” Nathalie says. “Qigong unblocks the pipe so that everything flows – the blood, the lymphatic system – everything circulates so that the body functions properly.” That is to say, it’s exercise.
Nathalie began teaching naked classes with women’s circles where participants would strip down as a way to celebrate the body. This July, she started holding outdoor events for the Irish Naturist Association.
Boud says Irish attitudes toward nudity develop when children are told to cover up
We’ll get to the difference between naturists and nudists later; for now, all you need to know is that while artist Ciara Boud doesn’t mind being referred to as a naturist, she just sees herself as someone who chooses to “wear or not wear what she wants to”.
Boud, who has surveyed nudists and hosts a podcast about them, says Irish attitudes toward nudity develop when children are told to cover up and, then, as they get older, being told what their bodies are supposed to look like. “We associate nakedness with something sexual,” she says over the phone.
“There is that bit more pressure on women in terms of image,” Boud adds. “We’re bombarded from a very young age to hold ourselves in a certain manner and be ladylike. And, in Irish society, taking your clothes off isn’t seen as very ladylike.”
Original publication 16 October, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 26th October 2020
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