I spontaneously signed up for something I've never done before: naked yoga. While I’ve participated in my fair share of group workout classes, this one was unlike any other.
Last night, I spent two hours in a room full of strangers doing yoga and Pilates completely naked. No, not a single piece of clothing was on.
When I signed up last week, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but I knew I didn’t have anything to lose. Well, besides being embarrassed by walking into class and seeing a family member or colleague — I’m not sure which would be worse? Luckily, that didn’t happen.
I opened the door to Naked in Motion’s class in New York City and was warmly greeted by the instructor, Willow. She checked me in, explained the layout of the room, and told me to get set up.
The studio was dimly lit by many battery-operated candles lining the entire room. I was one of the first few people to arrive, so I had my choice of where to sit. There were four rows, all facing toward the center of the room. I thought to myself, "Hm, where can I sit so I’m least exposing myself to people?" I chose a corner spot, set up my mat, and got settled in.
More people of all ages and genders started to trickle into class. Before I knew it, it was time to start.
Willow began by going over the rules of the class – like no looking for a date or hookup, mandatory sobriety, no latecomers, and more.
Then, it was time to get naked!
I undressed myself and avoided trying to look around or make eye contact with anyone. Somehow, with more than twenty people in a small room, I was successful.
We began in a standing pose called Tadasana, or Mountain Pose. Interestingly enough, I felt almost immediately comfortable. Maybe it was because we were all naked. Or maybe because I felt like we were all in the same boat. I’m really not sure. For the next two hours, we were guided through a series of poses and stretches that were doable for all levels of yogis.
“It’s not just a space to get naked,” Willow told Medical Daily. “It’s about taking a personal, internal, emotional journey to confront the things you feel about yourself, and the way you feel when you are so vulnerable around so many people.”
Willow, who has only ever taught nude yoga - not traditional, hopes to create a social movement through her classes and create a space where people can go on a personal journey to feel better about themselves.
Despite my prior belief, nude yoga is not just a trend. It’s an ancient Indian practice, but was introduced to Western countries in the 1960s. “It’s very underground in most major cities,” Willow said. “But there definitely is a naked yoga scene. I didn’t invent it.”
Naked in Motion offers classes primarily in Manhattan and Brooklyn; however, there are sometimes classes in other locations. It’s for all levels, and tickets run on a sliding scale. For more information, check out Naked In Motion’s website.
The experience pushed me outside my comfort zone and brought me to an unfamiliar place that was physically and mentally rewarding. While I understand everyone might not jump at the idea of doing naked yoga around strangers, I encourage you to try something else that challenges you in a similar way.
Research has shown that when being pushed outside your boundaries, you’ll have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes, and you'll perform better in various aspects of life, among many other benefits.