As I woke up from my relaxation, I stood up in a room full of nude bodies and looked down at a pile of my clothes crumbled next to my yoga mat. Did I just spend 75 minutes doing awkward poses in a room of naked strangers? I did. And here is why…
Let’s back it up. I consider myself a pretty open person. I have no problem walking around my roommates in my undies and I feel comfortable on a nude beach. However, I don’t consider myself a nudist; my love of my Arcade Fire shirt and high wasted jeans are far too deep. As for yoga, I practice as much as I can and when I do, I feel like that guy in the double rainbow video. So I thought… if I’m comfortable being naked and I am content in downward dog, why not combine the two?
I finally found a nude yoga class in Toronto and decided to sign up immediately. I signed up for an all gender Hatha class with Yogi Bare. To be honest, I didn’t really think too much about it. What’s the big deal anyway?
Then came the day of my unveiling. They ask you to practice good hygiene before arriving, so I jump in the shower real quick. And then it dawned on me. How do I take care of the landscaping down there? (I know you had the same question). I contemplated it for five minutes, but I will tell you this: it does not matter. Just keep in mind you will be doing tree pose and crow pose so keep it tamed. I dry off and get ready like I would before any yoga class: I rolled up my yoga mat and dress in comfortable clothing. Except this time I skipped out on wearing my sports bra cause, hey, I won’t need that anyway, right?
As I walk towards the building I feel myself lighten up with the anticipation of liberation and freedom. I reach the front entrance and I suddenly stop.
“Oh shit, do I undress before going into the yoga studio?”
“Where do I put my clothes?”
“Do I put my mat in the front row and have everyone see me or do I put my mat in the back row where I will witness more butt cracks than a Nicki Minaj video?”
“Does this break out into a weird trance-induced yoga orgy after?”
I realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I felt like a teenager on my first day of high school again, except every one was going to be naked… and I was carrying a yoga mat rather than a dorky back pack.
After an internal conflict followed by a mini pep talk, I walked up the stairs. I bump into the yoga instructor, Jacki Kay, before class and ask her if many women usually join. She smiles and laughs saying Not Many. Oh, this is going to be really interesting, I thought. Spoiler alert: other than the instructor, I was the only other lady.
Clothed people were already set up in a room warm room with the blinds closed. I place my mat in the back corner. Once the class started I realized that there was only one row— no one in front or behind. I guess that’s one less worry. We began fully clothed and after some breathing exercises began to undress… everything. Just a heads up, if you want to keep your underwear on, it’s totally cool, but the rest is coming off. I will spare you the details, but after the ritual I kind of forgot I was naked. We commenced with poses and your typical Hatha yoga series. Everyone was too focused on their breathing and deepening their stretches to sneak a peek. I felt very safe and noticeably less intimidated than in a regular yoga class.
I woke up after Shavasana and glanced around the room. Fellow yogis were slowly putting their clothes back on. I turn around and follow suit (literally) and start sliding my shirt back on. I had a very strange feeling at that moment. I didn’t want to get dressed. I was totally comfortable.
After, I spoke to a couple of my fellow nude yogis and discovered that are many reasons why people take the class. The instructor, Jacki, explained that she sees a whole range of personalities come in, not just nudists. One man nonchalantly told me he likes being naked. There was nothing strange about it. Was I out of my comfort zone? Yes, I was as far out of my comfort as Pluto is to our solar system. But I got something very important from that experience. As odd as it may seem, being in a mutually nude room of men is where I felt the least judgement. Being nude in a safe space allowed me to shed layers(no pun intended) of self-esteem issues and let go of all that body-shaming nonsense. And this is why I suggest you try a class one day. If you can learn to love your body in a public nude yoga class doing an awkward body twist, you can definitely learn to love your body every day.
Yogi Bare has classes every Wednesdays and Saturdays. Stay tuned for women-only classes hopefully coming in May!