“In a society that profits from our insecurities and lack of self love;
it’s a beautiful act of rebellion to know your worth and like yourself as you are.”
As a yoga instructor who offers naked yoga classes—some specifically for men—I’m often asked, “Why naked yoga? What do you get out of it?”
In many ways, naked yoga is one of the most equalizing practices you can engage in. For better or worse, we all walk around covered by layers. We have our work persona, our home persona, our gym persona, and so on. Sometimes these personas integrate. But oftentimes these personas, these layers, change the way we interact with one another. Not only that, they can change the way we interact with and see ourselves.
I often say at the beginning of class, “This is an opportunity to free ourselves of those layers—obviously the physical layers of clothing—but more importantly, the layers of stuff we carry between each of us.”
Once the clothes are gone, I find it’s much easier to genuinely connect, genuinely see one another, and put down all of the perceived crap between us. We’re people. We’re bodies. We’re beautiful. Each body is inherently different. We may have different skin tones, different bone structures, different habits with regard to how we hold ourselves and move, different muscle tone or lack thereof.
And yet, despite these differences, we’re just the same when you get right down to it.
That, for me, is a powerful reminder. It helps me to let down the personas in all areas of my life. And it helps me give myself a much-needed break as well.
Our society is continually bombarded with images of perfection—perfect bodies, perfect abs, perfect hair and teeth. Everywhere we look we’re confronted with a product that will help us achieve that perfection. It turns out, it won’t. And it turns out, those bodies aren’t perfect. Most aren’t even healthy or achievable without airbrushing.
I recognize this on a conscious level; and yet, I still have such a hard time not comparing. For me, naked yoga is truly the only time I feel 100% comfortable in my own skin. It may seem crazy, but it’s true. It’s just about the only time I’m not fully aware of how my clothes are hanging, where my belly is, thinking about whether the pants I’m wearing are too saggy in the butt, or whether my pecs look more like man boobs than pecs. You get the idea. It’s exhausting.
Sure, the first few minutes of getting naked to prepare for class, I often think—oh heavens, maybe I should have dieted more? But then, as I stand there naked, a button clicks and sends a signal to my brain.
It’s all out there—you can let your body judgment go now.
And I do. It’s such a wonderful feeling of peace and freedom. Yep, there’s my belly. Oh well. Yep, my balls are swinging awkwardly in this pose. Oh well. Nope, I can’t really get “fully” into that pose. Oh well. I’m just going to enjoy where and how I am now.
Not only do I gain a sense of freedom and ease in my own body, but as I look around at my class and look at the bodies, I notice that they’re all pretty amazing. That little fat roll one student has while sitting—not only is it ok, it’s pretty amazing and kind of sexy. The surgery scars some students display—they’re beautiful too, clear signs of their unique and courageous paths to healing.
Then I begin to wonder about my students’ journeys. How their bodies have served them so beautifully. How all of their “imperfections” add up to create these miracles of body, heart and soul that stand before me, practice with me, breathe with me.
That is how naked yoga works its magic for me.
Try it sometime.
Originally published on ShankaraStudio.net. Republished with permission.
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