Last week, I went to naked yoga. And for whatever reason, I wasn’t all that nervous about it. People would say things like “you’re crazy” or “you’re so brave,” and I wanted to be like “dude, it’s just yoga…without clothes. What’s so weird about that?”
Okay. It’s a little weird.
To be fair, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin (and I guess down-dogging with other random strangers). I have no qualms about only working out in a sports bra, since I’ve been doing it since high school track. I sleep naked, shower naked, and sometimes even cook naked. (Ovens = hot enough.) And since yoga is all about connecting with our inner core, and is so mental and spiritual and yogi buzz word buzz word, I thought it would be cool to practice without any physical barriers — rooting to the ground, no clothes included.
However, I started to feel pretty nervous once we got to the studio. It was in a building with eight or so floors, but when we said “Floor 2” to the doorman, I could only imagine he was thinking “THEY’RE GOING TO THE NAKED CLASS.” Then we reached the studio, and I gawked at every person: “Are they in the class too?” “Will they potentially be staring at my vagina in about ten minutes?” “Will they like my cool bra?” And it all felt..a little weird
I went with two of my co-workers, which supposedly makes things even weirder; there was no way to escape into an abyss of anonymity. The three of us met the teacher, Cindee Rifkin, who immediately made me feel better. She gave us a huge hug, then we walked upstairs to a small studio. There were nine of us in total — four girls and five guys — and after a few minutes of small-talk, Cindee told us to start taking off our clothes in whichever way was most comfortable.
I immediately took everything off, and sitting on my mat, completely naked, I finally felt fine OK — when everyone is in a room…without clothes on…it stops being weird.
Then we all went around to introduce ourselves: “Hi I’m Laura, and I’m naked?” along with saying something that was feeling “off” in our bodies, or simply our world, and how we wanted to go about fixing it. I retracted from “baring it all” on the non-physical side of things, and told the class I had a headache. (To be fair, I was hungover.) Then we went to the first pose.
Of course it Baddha Konasna, aka sitting spread eagle and trying to stretch your hips to the ground. After exposing my vagina to eight other classmates (I feel like I’ve typed vagina more in the last 10 minutes than I have in the last 10 years) we moved to inversions on the wall. From there, we began doing some sun salutations, and then…I had a moment.
We were doing half-moon, a pose I really really love, but have trouble getting into the full expression. On the second side, Cindee came around and told me I was almost there, and I should try to open up a little more and fold my hands at my heart. As soon as I tried to move my arms, I began to lose my balance, so she came over to me. Her naked hip was against mine as her body supported me and led me into the full expression. I had never done it before, and here we were, two strangers and our naked and beautiful bodies next to one another. I was definitely saying “I’m having a moment..I’m having a moment..I’m having a moment” in my head. It was cool.
To be honest, the class itself was not incredibly (physically) challenging. I like faster paced vinyasa classes, and this one was a lot slower with a lot of breath work. And had I been clothed, I probably would have been a tad disappointed and gone straight to the track for 200m repeats. But that really wasn’t the point. The class helped me realize that the way our bodies look shouldn’t be that big of a deal; it’s far less important than what they do for us. I felt strong standing in Warrior II and looking down to see my whole body. This body is what allows me to do this pose, and the one after that, and the one after that. It’s what allows me to run marathons injury free, travel around the world, and have enough energy throughout the day. This body, right here, fuels me. Not a body five pounds lighter, or a body with a six-pack, or a body with crazy calf muscles or bigger breasts (though hey, breasts – can we work on that?). The body I was staring down at, perfect in its imperfections, has and continues to give so much to me. So how could I ever be upset with it?
Perhaps the thing I loved most, though, were the connections we made after class. The one thing I typically don’t like about yoga classes is that everyone tends to seem a little “standoffish.” I always feel weird saying hello to anyone after a class, even when people are so moved they clap afterwards. But once you practice next to people butt naked, holding up a conversation afterwards aint no thang. It was fun talking to the others, most of whom are regulars, and learning why they go. Some are simply curious (aka me), others are working on body issues, and others are nudists simply working on their chair pose.
So – final verdict? Naked yoga was definitely worth experiencing, and helped me realize hangin’ out sans clothing should be something we all do a little more often. As Shana gracefully noted in her article on it for Greatist, “We were still us, just naked.” Exposing yourself doesn’t have to always be sexualized, or taboo, or just plain uncomfortable. It can be freeing and fun, and a good reminder that we’re b-e-a utiful just as we are, and should thank our bare bodies for all the crazy wonderful things they do for us.
Namaste/let me know if you want to go to a class,