Do you know the intense stare your dog gives you while pooping? They look at you that way because they feel vulnerable. That was me for an hour and a half last Wednesday.
For the record: I am not a nudist. In fact, I find being naked around other people extremely uncomfortable and awkward. I don’t want to see other naked bodies in the wild, ever. On Korean “spa days” I always squeeze my buttcheeks, fix my gaze on the floor and walk fast praying I don’t accidentally walk straight into another naked body. It’s just weird to me.
But this year I am trying to push through the things that make me feel embarrassed for no reason. Here’s the thing: we all have private things that we want to guard and protect. For me, my body is high up on the list. It’s one of those skeletons in the closet I just had to aerate.
I celebrated International Women’s Day this year with butt naked yoga class at Naked in Motion. I chose that studio because of their focus on equity, and recognition that “women have faced centuries of oppression, sexual objectification, and violence, so it’s easy to understand why they might be generally more apprehensive about attending an all-gender naked event.”
I’m here to tell you that I survived and it wasn’t half as bad as I thought.
Step 1: 3 tequila shots
I almost backed out at last minute. I had to give myself a pep talk:
This is no different than a one night stand, but with a bunch of old men you don’t have to touch (um… I hope?!) Have a couple shots and get over yourself!
This pep talk wasn’t effective given my lack of experience with one night stands. I took two gulps of tequila before marching in, and made my husband go with me.
I got there 20 minutes early with a perfect plan to reserve a spot in the back left corner of the room, where I could at least protect my gluteus-maximus-hole from facing the world in a standing forward bend.
I expected to open the door and see a cloud of penises. Pleasant surprise – everyone was clothed. There were 15 people there, only two women (me and one another) plus additional 2 female instructors, so the gender distribution was not as bad as I was expecting. Half of the men were past their 50’s, the other half were in their 30’s. The instructor saw me rush for the left corner spot and she knew :
You’re nervous, it’s normal.
She was comforting and lovely.
Step 2: Drop your panties and touch your toes
At 7pm sharp, the door was locked and the instructor read off the community rules.
This is an asexual non-partner space. Don’t stare at people. Don’t touch. Don’t talk to them after class. No alcohol (:whoopsies:). Everyone clear? Okay! Clothes off.
I was the last person to undress, and, at that point, everyone was naked so it felt weird to have clothes on.
At first, everything felt hellishly uncomfortable. Then, intuitively, I focused on the yoga and my own body. I tried to do every pose perfectly, as far as my body allowed me. I saw some of my muscles and veins for the first time and it really made me appreciate this complicated machine. For the first time in my workout routine, I was focused on what my body can do, as opposed to what it can’t.
Because it’s a desexualized space, where women are not half-hidden as in the normal life, it really felt like we were all the same (well, with meaty things hanging and swinging in different places, but even these things felt like any other part of the human body, no different from your arm or leg).
Suuuure, there were many uncomfortable moments. I got lost a few times and had to look at someone else’s naked butt to catch up. My standing forward bend plan shattered when the instructor asked us to turn to the side, making me the first person in line to do the pose (admittedly, I chose to lay down instead). At the end of the class, the room was filled a distinct ‘ball smell’ that made me appreciate underwear as a useful social construct.
Step 3: Butts are weird but also normal
Unimpressively, the whole thing wasn’t that big of a deal. It felt liberating to share my vulnerability with strangers.
Would I do naked yoga again? Yes, but in my own room at home. My most important lesson was being kinder to my own body, and I’d like to practice that more.
My lesson for friends? Go ahead. Do something today that yesterday you thought was crazy. Take the skeletons out for a stroll.