'Om' Em Gee: I Did Naked Yoga
I don't love yoga. But I'm supposed to. Women my age, in my town (and let's just say it, with my name) are supposed to swear by the practice's tush-tightening, mind-loosening properties. I've been to a dozen yoga classes in as many years — the sweaty kind, the meditative kind, the pregnant kind — hoping to tap into that puzzling peace-through-pain bliss that yoga fans endure, er, adore.
But yoga mostly makes me ... uncomfortable. From the hissing ujjayi breath to the groin-punishing poses to the inscrutable, translated-from-Elvish instructions ("release any stale energy and breath through your scalp"), the classes always leave me feeling physically and psychologically awkward.
When I received an invitation recently to view a new DVD called Yoga, Undressed (yogaundressed.com), I realized there was really only one way to make yoga more uncomfortable: Do it naked.
But what if discomfort is sort of the point? What if I'd failed to appreciate yoga because I hadn't been uncomfortable ... enough? Were my unbelievably cute yoga top and super-flattering yoga pants a moisture-wicking but Zen-preventing barrier to yogic understanding? If I stripped away my hold-it-all-in outfit, could I truly let go? Could I blast, birthday-suited, straight through the awkward to bask in the awesome just beyond?
So I tried it. I did it because the DVD promised that yoga in my "most pure and natural state" (minus my smartphone and Diet Coke) would awaken my spirit, honor my inner goddess, and unleash the fullness of my thighs. Sorry! No, the fullness of my potential is what it said. "Let go and give way to the ultimate self-expression, to your most primal, powerful, sacred, sensual self..." (Also, I did it because "I did naked yoga" is a ridiculously good headline.)
I ran into some trouble, though, while watching the demo on my computer one night. My husband wandered in to find a stunningly beautiful young woman on my screen wearing nothing but a smile and bending through sun salutations lit by 50 flickering candles.
Narrator: Your kundalini energy lies tightly coiled at the base of the spine. We will unleash this coiled snake of energy...
Husband: I'll unleash my coiled snake of energy, heh heh.
Narrator: You'll feel more empowered, energized, and beautiful with every new asana you learn ...
Husband: She does have a nice asana.
When it was my turn to try it, my family ran screaming from the house. I locked the doors and vacuumed the rug because — just because eww. I put out some fake LED candles (couldn't risk my chakras bursting into flames) and took my place on the floor in the altogether.
It was cold, but only briefly, because soon the chi was flowing and I was glowing. Naked yoga feels ... well, it feels very much like doing yoga naked. I'll say this: nudity gives new meaning to the awkward chair pose, butterfly was unpleasant at best, and I kept knocking into my own boobs. But it's hard not to feel Amazon-princess-magnificent doing radiant warrior in the buff.
The naked truth: I felt great for hours afterwards. I can't say if it was the disrobed downward-facing dog (did I mention not to do this near a mirror?) or utter delirium at having been nude — and alone! — in my living room on a sunny Saturday afternoon, which is an almost salacious fantasy to anyone with children.
I found myself wondering, during my kickboxing class later that week, what an uppercut punch and roundhouse kick would look like au naturel. But I doubt I'll be bending over backward to do naked yoga again. Not sure I need it. For one thing, my asana's tighter than I thought (at one pretzelly point, I think I saw it). For another — hey, I did naked yoga. How much looser does a gal's mind need to be?