Photo by Sue Chung

How I Was So Wrong About Nude Yoga

When I decided to host a Nude Yoga class in my studio in Nedlands, Australia, I chuckled because one of the students thought we were doing Power Vinyasa naked. I said, “Do you really think we’d be doing a 3-legged down-dog tonight?”

The thought of splitting your legs apart without undies, without my Lululemon gear, was out of the ordinary. But whenever we hear of yoga coupled with a group of people getting naked – there’s buzz. Huge buzz.

We sat with our mats facing in, wearing sarongs – at this stage, clothed. It was freeing to see our teacher Rosie Rees in her sarong, not tied up, not buttoned, but just on her. Against the candlelit room, I could see the shadows created by her curves. She was completely at ease.

I wondered how the rest of us would undress. Were we meant to take our clothes off now? And that song – you know?

“We don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time, oh, no”

Maybe I should step up my game and take the first move? No. My nerves got the better of me. And instead, I waited for it all to unfold.

Rosie asked us to caress our skin, our bones, and our body, just like how we would like to be loved. I slowly massaged my feet, my thighs, my belly, my breasts, my arms, my neck. A meditation teacher had told me of the benefits of a daily practice of self-massage but I never thought of actually performing it.

I made an offering of undivided attention to my own body, getting through my deepest layers, and when I felt ready, I took off my clothes.

All the assumptions I made:

  • It’s going to be so weird;
  • Everyone’s going to stare;
  • The word ‘vagina’ is never going to be the same;
  • They’re all going to see my imperfections;
  • We’re going to have to do that awkward partner exercise when we stare into each other’s eyes (and boobs);
  • We’re not doing any 3-legged Downward Dogs;
  • She’s going to know I have cellulite;

were invalid.

The practice was sensual. It was a combination of Kundalini and Yin Yoga where we would often build up the energy inside us, and then let it go. The yoga I know and teach to my students suddenly had an added dimension to it.

I admired the unclothed bodies next to me – their shapes, their sizes, and their marks. No one was better or more beautiful than another.

Social media turned into a popularity contest. The fitter you are, the bigger your boobs, the smaller your belly, the better you are. And here we were in a safe place where we weren’t comparing our poses, the number of likes, or the number of followers.

Nude Yoga proved to be a practice where the ‘getting nude and doing yoga’ itself came to light as secondary to the practice of self-acceptance and self-love.

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