Photo courtesy of Cosmopolitan
NUDE: devoid of a natural or conventional covering; especially: not covered by clothing or a drape - merriam-webster.com
My first artistic exposure to nudeness was a drawing class in college. But the really first perhaps was the National Geographic Magazines. But through out my life I have always enjoy the nude body that God created from a distance via painting or drawing and photography.
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Before last week, I’d never wondered if I needed a Brazilian wax before a workout.
I’ve never showered immediately before a workout either, but you want to be prepared before you do downward dog naked in a room full of strangers, no?
I didn’t have any expectations for my first naked yoga class. Truthfully, I didn’t know it was even a thing before I found a Manhattan studio called Bold & Naked Yoga.
Here’s the thing: I’d like to think I’m pretty comfortable with my naked body. I leave the lights on during sex, I sleep naked, I’ve been known to cook the occasional meal in the nude (never bacon, obvi). But I’d never been nude in front of a crowd before. Still, I figured I would be OK.
I showed up to the studio in loose clothes, nice underwear, and with my own yoga mat (they do rent out mats there, but if my vagina is touching something, I’d like to own it). The studio was warm and inviting, and the instructors, Joschi and Monika, were so welcoming. They introduced themselves and really made you feel comfortable.
But nothing makes you quite as nervous as sitting in a room with strangers you’re about to see naked. It reminded me of the feeling you have before you’re about to hook up with someone for the first time: You’re nervous, you’re excited, and you don’t know what to expect.
I stood around awkwardly because I didn’t want to seem overly enthusiastic and be the first to take my clothes off. But then it just happened. Pretty much all at once, everyone’s clothes came off.
And you know what? It wasn’t uncomfortable. Mostly because the expectation is that you don’t stare.
Photo courtesy of Salon
The whole point of yoga is to focus on yourself, rather than the people around you.
There were seven other people in my class - three men, four women. Most seemed to be in their 20s.
Everyone was diverse in their appearance, which I loved, because it meant that naked yoga was diverse in its appeal.
As we sat on our mats, we talked about how we felt. One guy said that “if everyone’s naked, no one’s naked.”
It was true. While I hadn’t forgotten about it quite yet, I wasn’t focusing on it either. We were all just normal people sitting in a room and talking. Naked, as you do. We went around the room and shared our zodiac signs. And then we started our hour and half of yoga.
Before I went to my class, the debate among friends was where you set up your mat. Do you stand in the back, where you can see everybody else, or in the front, where everybody else can see you? Honestly, it doesn’t really make a difference.
Think about it: If you’re doing a pose on your back, everybody else is also on their back. When you stare straight ahead during warrior pose, they also stare straight ahead during warrior pose.
And if people did look, I never felt like it was in a judgmental way. No one made me feel uncomfortable or apologetic about my single-in-Manhattan-in-winter grooming choices (I skipped the Brazilian as I felt that was too much work for a class that was supposed to be so freeing).
Joschi and Monika didn’t avoid any poses just because we were naked. We did shoulder stands with our butts out. We did crunches with our legs spread in the air. Body parts were all sorts of exposed (don’t worry, the studio was kept warm).
Photo courtesy of Salon
But after a while, you completely forgot about not having any clothes on. I was more focused on the poses, my breathing, and my screaming muscles than I was on being naked.
And you know what? Aside from being sweaty and sore and spending every second wishing it were over because guys, it was an intense workout, I loved it. I’ve never felt quite so in tune with how my body was working. It really was freeing.
But couldn’t all this amazingness happen when you’re clothed? Do you really have to strip to be ~one with yourself~? For me, yes. I’ve done regular yoga before. I’ve tried solo meditation. None of that has liberated me quite as much as this did.
Among other things, nudity removes distractions. I wasn’t comparing my outfit to the Lululemon leggings the stylish girl in front of me was wearing. My sports bra wasn’t digging into my ribcage and making me uncomfortable. I didn’t get a wedgie every flow sequence.
After the class, one girl said that had she been clothed, she would have been focused on constantly pulling up her leggings to cover her stomach. When she was naked, though, she didn’t worry about that. Maybe you’re worried about cellulite, or small breasts, or like this girl, a bloated stomach. All of that disappears when you’re naked. You’re forced to accept your body for what it is and embrace it for its faults and strengths.
While I saw that girl’s naked body, I never noticed her stomach. Instead, I noticed that she was gorgeous and strong, and that she did an amazing headstand at the end of the class.
I was able to see my body more clearly than ever. I could actually see my muscles flex when I worked them. I could see my legs quiver and know that I needed a rest. I’ve never gotten such an uninhibited view of my body moving and working. As someone who is (really, truly, painfully) out of shape, it was amazing to see that my body was capable of such amazing things. And I really did feel comfortable and connected to the people around me - so much so that it took me another half hour after the class ended to put my clothes back on.
While naked yoga was never sexual, it was incredibly intimate. This was incredibly beneficial to me as I went through a rough breakup a few months ago and haven’t been naked - in both the physical and emotional sense - around another person since. I was allowed to be more vulnerable and free with other people and with myself than I had been in a long time. This class had the most sense of community than any other fitness class I’ve been to. We talked before and after, we laughed during the flow sequences, we exchanged names and worries.
After the class was over, one girl came up to each person and thanked them for being a part of it. Joschi mentioned that naked yoga sometimes opens things up for people.
When I told my friends that I was trying this, most people had the attitude of, “Wow, that’s so great. It sounds so intimidating! That’s something I could never do.” But the whole point is that everyone can do this. Nudity is universal. Bodies are universal.
It was freeing to be naked - and not just in the way that requires a Brazilian.