I went to Naked Yoga, and this is what happened
It's twenty minutes before class starts and I feel my heart pounding. My body heats up, my blood pressure drops, I can feel my breath quicken, but I walk through the door anyways. I've been practicing yoga for a couple of years now, but never in a million years did I ever think that I'd do it naked in a room full of strangers.
I had heard about Bold & Naked a few months ago and was immediately intrigued, but never thought I'd do it. In the past I've had body issues, and even now in my physical peak I still feel insecure. “My thighs are too big, my breasts are too small, I have too much hair,” the demons in my mind tell me when I stand in front of a mirror. So when a man gets into the elevator and I realize that we're going to the same place, I panic. This man is going to see me naked.
I'm greeted by Bold & Naked's co-founder, Monika Werner, and automatically feel more at ease. “The scary part is taking your clothes off in the beginning. It will disappear after a few minutes in class,” she assures me. In the FAQ of their website the studio acknowledges the misconception of the class being sexually charged by stating, “While many equate being naked with sex, this couldn't be further from the truth in a naked yoga class.”
I take a quick look around and see people taking off their layers. *Gulp*
It's time for the class and most of the people are already in the studio. I purposefully waited to avoid undressing in front of everyone, but as I'm taking my belt off a young man comes up and asks me if it's my first time, while ripping off his clothes at an Olympic speed. “Is it that obvious?” I ask while peeling off a sock. “Look, there's nothing to be nervous about. Being naked? It's no big deal, people make it a big deal but it's really not. We're just bodies.” He's butt naked now and I'm doing my best not to look down there, I look at everything else in the room instead. I silently take off my jewelry. “See you in there,” he says before turning around towards the studio. I'm thinking, “See all of you in there.”
Like ripping off a Band-Aid or taking a Tequila shot, I took off my clothes and walked into the studio with the yoga mat in front of my, ahem, areas. I pull out my mat and take a seat. Knees pulled up to my chest.
The first thing I notice is that everyone is so calm. How could they be so comfortable in a room of naked people?! Class starts and we begin to warm up. I try not to look but how could I not? Everyone is so naked! But you know what? It's such a relief to see real bodies as opposed to the unrealistic ones we see in the media. Women especially create these high expectations of what the “correct” and “hot” body looks like, and we get frustrated when we can't reach that ideal. But the thing is that we can't! Many of our bodies are physically unable to look like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, there's no way! And here in this room I find myself reminded that real bodies are gorgeous. There is an array of shapes, sizes, and color. There are some people who had cellulite and others who did not. There are people who don't have one hair on their body and others who have a lot. And as I realize this I begin to feel more comfortable in my own body and am able to concentrate on my practice rather than obsessing over whether or not the person behind me thinks my thighs are too large for my body.
As we go through the different poses I almost forget that I'm naked. The practice itself is challenging enough that it requires most of my attention and there isn't enough left over to freak out over my body. Things I normally obsess over weren't important anymore. It wasn't weird anymore! I find myself so at ease during the class that I almost forget that this is supposed to be weird for me. I'm supposed to feel freaked out. And while yes, there were definitely moments were I felt more, ahem, exposed than others, overall it was a very liberating experience.
Sure, once the practice was over I may have lingered in the studio a little longer than others as I waited for the rest of the class to leave, but once I did exit and started to get changed it wasn't weird anymore. I feel empowered. I am the kind of woman who is brave enough to move through a series of positions in a group of strangers completely in the nude and not give a crap. I am now the kind of woman who can do that! My body image problems are by no means gone, but I feel so much more empowered and invigorated now than I did before. That is the power of Bold & Naked.