I started teaching clothing-optional yoga about six months ago.
My first day was a wild crazy day of awesomeness, probably on par with the wild crazy day of awesomeness I experienced the day I busted out of my mother’s womb. (If you are curious what that day was like—the day in which I encountered the thought, “holy shit I’m about to take my clothes off in a room of people who will also be taking their clothes off,” this is the article.)
Now it’s about six months in and I have had so many experiences that keep bringing me back into a room where I get to explore myself in a completely different way—simply because I allow myself to be seen fully by myself and others.
I want to open this dialogue not necessarily to promote naked yoga, but rather to discuss what keeps me coming back and how that changes my work in other yoga settings (you know, the yoga settings where people keep their Lululemon butt-lifting pants on).
My first point is generosity of spirit.
What I love most about the space of naked yoga is that pretense has to drop. We’re about to get naked together, there is no use in trying to suck things in or show off in this way or not talk to each other.
The generosity of spirit is immediately present because every person locks eyes—teacher and teacher, teacher and student, student and student—and locks into conversation driven by the feeling, “holy God, I’m about to let you see all of me. Let me ask you your name, find out what you do in your life and listen to why you’re here today.”
There is no awkward avoidance of talking, no darting eyes of discomfort, and certainly no maintenance of appearance.
Now I’m not saying that this is specific to naked yoga, but the experience of just getting to know the people in the room is heightened for me in this setting.
And getting to know the people in the room means that as we practice we laugh. As we practice we discuss how things feel. As we practice we stop taking ourselves so fucking seriously.
This is important to me because it means we acknowledge the fact that there are other people in the room practicing with us. If I wanted to just practice alone, then I would just practice alone.
The invisible line that separates student and teacher is completely obliterated, and the space ceases to be the place where I come and say a bunch of things and people just do what I say. The space ends up being an energetic discussion between all the people in the room, and we become fully and totally equal.
My second point is authenticity of expression.
If you had told me even a year ago that this is something I would ever even entertain the thought of for just five seconds, I would have said, “Go back to Andromeda where you came from, you foreign space creature, you!”
Being naked, even in my own solitude, was not something I was comfortable with.
Up until walking into that room for the first time, I was naked for only two reasons: (1) to clean myself; or (2) for the enjoyment of someone else.
Recreational nudity was not just something I didn’t do, it was something that was so completely outside my understanding.
Teaching naked yoga allows me to enjoy myself completely naked. It allows me to enjoy the physical beauty of a body that bends and lifts and breathes and beats and hums and drums. It allows me to enjoy my metaphorical nakedness—to strip bare and allow me to see myself when I take off all the many masks I wear, as it becomes impossible for me to take off my clothes and still be in disguise.
The experience of teaching naked brings me only good things.
That doesn’t mean that it brings everybody only good things and this doesn’t mean that I think everyone should do it.
I realize that I have a lot of people in my life who just don’t get why I would ever do this. And I don’t blame them and I don’t think they’re missing something.
I understand that there are risks involved. I understand that my intention for teaching does not mean that other people walk into the space of naked yoga with the same intention. And I don’t expect them to.
In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter to me why other people come, because I trust myself in that space—I trust myself to take care of myself and pay attention to make healthy choices for myself when my clothes are off.
I never walk into that room amped about seeing a bunch of naked people. And I honestly don’t care if other people get amped about seeing me naked. If someone else walks into that room thinking, “yay, boobs!” that’s their own internal space to work from, and I don’t need to allow it to make me feel small. (Incidentally, I have never gotten the feeling that that’s why people come.)
And I totally get it—sexuality is confusing. Our global sexual climate leaves a lot of us sexually confused, misplaced and frustrated (to illustrate this, all we have to do is look at the catalogue of music videos my friend Miley Cyrus is putting out on the monthly).
I’ve spent most of my life being completely sexually confused, and paralyzed by that confusion to the point where my sexuality was completely disconnected from sexual desire, and was instead driven by cultural sexual expectations (as dictated by MTV, billboards, Cosmo, pornography and my sixth grade friend, Nikki).
I understand the tendency to look at naked yoga and feel sexually disgruntled by it, almost like we missed the day in school where we talked about whether nakedness was inherently sexual to get our braces tightened.
I personally do not happen to believe that nakedness is inherently sexual. And I honestly don’t give a shit whether or not you agree with me—so please, carry on with your opinions as you have been, as long as those opinions make you feel good.
I would like to become more naked all the time. And I would like to learn how to keep my clothes on and be naked as well.
So I will continue to teach naked yoga until I feel like it no longer makes me feel awesome. And I will stay present and connected and aware, so that I can bring the benefits of my nakedness to all the other places I show up to.
My yoga is about nakedness—with or without my Lululemon pants on.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise