“The human body is beauty, art, creativity, expression, a vessel for the soul, our temple, and a magnificent machine”
Last night, in the spirit of my intention to “live beyond fear” for 2017 (and beyond), I went to a naked yoga class. Down dog without pants? Fear ain’t got nothing on me.
To be honest, signing up for naked yoga a couple weeks ago felt like a really good idea. I thought “oooh look at me, I am so brave and free!”, but when I woke up yesterday, I immediately started to come up with reasons why I shouldn’t go (I don’t have the money to spend, it’s all the way downtown, I already taught two classes today, etc…). Before I got too wrapped up in those thoughts and anxieties, I stepped into a perspective shift. Is this going to kill me? As in, literally end my life? No. No chance of that happening. So the only reason for me not to go was because I felt afraid, and that option was way out of alignment with my intention of living beyond fear. So I thanked my “comfortable-self” for her input, and then kindly asked her to take a seat at the back of the bus. I was going to go, whether she liked it or not.
Now onto the very real issue of personal grooming. Reality check: it’s winter, and I’m single. ‘Nuff said. No other information required as to the state of affairs of my bits. On one hand, I thought it would be ridiculous to show up immaculately groomed, since this whole experience was about stepping into a space of freedom for myself, and if I’m truly doing this practice for me, what do I care if other people are exposed to my overgrowth? On the other hand, I was going to be naked in public in for the first time in over 30 years, and my ego wanted me to present the best version of myself; or at least, not the most grizzly version of myself. The final decision? A little tidy up, and some moisturizer.
My next thought was, what do I wear to naked yoga? A bit of an oxymoron, right? It seemed silly to put on yoga clothes if I was only going to take them off. I eventually decided on jogging pants and a zip-up hoodie, sans underwear. I didn’t want to risk the temptation of keeping my undies on and half-assing (pun clearly intended) the experience. As the only first-timer in the room, I just couldn’t bring myself to roll out my mat and whip off my clothes like it was no big deal. I sat on my mat, contemplative and clothed, while everyone around me undressed like it was no big deal (in hindsight, it isn’t a big deal), until I was the only clothed person in the room. Then I thought “Shit! Now I’m the only one with clothes on!” In some weird way, I was waiting for the “perfect moment” to take my clothes off; I quickly realized, there isn’t one. When the teacher walked in and got naked herself, I took a deep breath and slithered out of my sweats. I was naked, and I was still alive. I smiled.
We started the practice on our backs, in savasana. I tucked my shoulder blades and lifted my bare chest towards the sky, and willed my legs to shuffle apart and roll open. I let go of my external anxieties and settled into my body. Even though I felt uncertain and somewhat uneasy on the outside, the inside remained the same: peaceful, and present. Once we started to move, I realized that naked yoga is just like regular yoga, minus the clothes. I felt at home; with myself, and with the other naked humans in the room. When the teacher cued for wild-thing, I joyously turned my hips and chest to the sky and relished the sensations of power and freedom igniting my body. I couldn’t help but take a peak at myself in the previously unwanted mirror, and was struck by how smooth and pure my skin was, and how strong my body looked. When we moved into a seated forward fold, it was delicious to feel the warmth of the direct contact between my breasts, belly, and thighs. I smiled and lingered in that soft, safe, and inviting space. I admired not only my own body, but those of the people around me. I felt a lot of love for all the delicate, brave humans in the room. Practicing naked was one of the most real human experiences I’ve ever had, and I wasn’t ready for it to end.
As we came to lie in a fetal position at the end of our practice, I looked around the darkened room, and took in the soft outlines of the naked adults on the floor around me. We’re all just big babies; still soft, still vulnerable, still full of love and kindness. Everyone in that space was, in that moment, unarmed. No walls, no protection, no barriers. The symbolic act of removing our clothing projects us right into the centre of vulnerability; nothing to hide, and no means of concealing anything imperfect. It was liberating, and long overdue. Like most adults, I hadn’t been naked around other people for non-sexual purposes since about the age of six. In a lot of ways, that now seems to me to be really absurd. We are born into the perfection of our skin, and we deserve to be naked more often; in mind, spirit, and body.
So, my first “living beyond fear” experience for 2017 is in the books, and I’ll continue to seek out opportunities to get naked, in every sense of the word. It feels good. Damn good.
P.S. In case you’re wondering where I put my mat, I chose the “bum to the wall” option, and arrived a half hour early to secure a spot at the back of the room. Next week? I plan on migrating closer to the front.