When I was on the bus on the way home from naked yoga I felt a thick hair in my mouth. It's not, I panicked as I frantically moved it around in an attempt to get it to the front. Please, no, I begged as I plucked it from the tip of my tongue. THANK CHRIST, I thought, when it was just an eyelash.
It wouldn't have surprised me if it had been a cheeky little pubic hair though, as only 15 minutes earlier I had literally been in a room with 19 other naked humans, resting my face on the floor in child's pose after having just watched exposed groins casually sweep across it during cobra.
Not that it was a dirty or unhygienic place by any means... but, well, naked.
The practice of naked yoga, or "nagna" yoga, goes back to ancient times and is still practiced by religious figures in India today. Free-spirited Westerners have adopted the practice and it's becoming mainstream like butter chicken. The practice of baring it all while bending became hot-to-trot in the '60s with the dirty hippy movement, but that was mainly in the US. It's only recently started to poke its naked little head out onto the streets of London. In fact, the class I went to is the ONLY mixed class in the UK, with all other naked yoga classes being exclusively for men. I know, right, inequality at its finest.
I'd read what little information there is about it on the internet beforehand and had taken comfort in the fact that it would take place in a dimly lit room. You can do that, I thought, once you get past that gawky stage of arriving and stripping it should be fine to do one of your favourite activities in the nuds.
Uh, yeah, you practice naked yoga in a lovely dimly lit room about half way through the class once the sun goes down and stops pouring through the sky lights.
So after arriving in the sunny afternoon light, I entered the studio and BAM -- genitals everywhere. I took my glasses off immediately and made my way over to the woman who I assumed was the yoga instructor. She wasn't naked (yet) but she had that hot, I'm-a-yoga-instructor body... you know the type.
She instructed me -- because she is a yoga instructor -- to take one of the free mats and told me that I was welcome to change in the bathroom if I felt more comfortable doing that. At this point, with genitals already all up in my grill, nothing was going to make me feel more comfortable. So I stepped over a couple of naked starfish and settled on a mat between a young woman and a really nice-smelling naked man.
I looked around without actually looking around because I wasn't sure if that was appropriate in such circumstances. It was pretty much my eyeballs just rolling about as I tried to focus on what I could see with my peripheral vision -- basically, everyone was losing their garments, fast. It got to the point where I had to either follow suit or walk out because I was definitely about to draw attention to myself by sitting there, fully clothed, like some prudish loser.
SO. I made the call and I did it. I stripped off like a modest teenager, lay down on my back, closed my eyes and played the game where you think people can't see you because you can't see them. Peek-a-boo, they call it.
A million thoughts were running through my mind at first but after about 25 minutes it settled down to just three or four, which is good for me. We were still lying on our backs, listening to the soothing voice of the naked yoga instructor, and one of the three or four thoughts said: Well this isn't too bad, it's not even real yoga, it's just a nudie rudie meditation class.
Nope, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG. It was yoga.
The mats were spread around in a horseshoe configuration, so we weren't all exposed to sexually explicit exercise when our hips started thrusting and legs flew in the air. The instructor, however, was in the middle of the horseshoe, and she certainly would have copped an eyeful. She was good though, very attentive when I started doing things wrong because I felt a bit too pervy looking to my peers to see if I was doing it right.
Don't even get me started on the shock I got when we eventually moved into downward-facing dog. This is when I realised the bottom of a MIRROR was peeking out from under the curtain behind me. Oh that's what I look like from behind when I'm bent over naked. Hey girl.
Don't worry, all other mirrors were covered.
From what I understand, a big part of naked yoga is the ability to get over body hang ups and to help build a bit of body confidence and self esteem. So I was quite surprised that among all the interesting combinations of words the instructor was using to form sentences -- such as "let yourself make an inquiry with your body" and "only take breaths when your body invites you to" -- there wasn't really any mention of the fact that we were all just, you know, hanging out naked. I felt like it was a pretty big deal that we were all just hanging out naked and I was kind of keen to hear some sort of commendation for my bravery. But maybe that's just me, I'm a bit needy.
All in all I actually feel like it helped with my body confidence, or even confidence in general. I was really proud of myself. And I suppose it ended up being okay that the yoga teacher hadn't given me any kudos because my friends, family and colleagues were sufficiently shocked and impressed.
When it was all over I smiled at the fact that no one said a single word, or made much eye contact for that matter. We all got dressed discreetly, left quietly through the front door and went back to our normal, non-nudist lives. Well, they probably did. I went home and made use of my newfound body confidence on the rooftop.
This post was first published on comfortisforwimps.com