This story originally appeared on Mashable.
All around me, naked women are moaning, groaning, sighing and waving their hands in the air like they just don’t care. Right now, I’m seeing things that will never be unseen.
Just like green juice and goji berries, naked yoga has become a thing recently in Australia. The difference is pulverised kale doesn’t ask you to bend over in front of strangers completely nude.
As a yoga teacher, I know most postures aren’t overly flattering, no matter how expensive your Lululemon pants are. Add to that the laundry list of body hang-ups most of us carry around and I needed to know why the hell anyone would volunteer to do yoga in the buff.
I’m an A-grade prude and when it comes to the naked body I’ve developed a few hang-ups of my own. Yup, I’m that adult who lives alone and showers with the door closed. So in the name of facing my fears arse-on, I arrive at yoga sans clothes.
My overactive imagination has built this up to be some Jonestown-esque cult orgy that will end in us sacrificing a naked hipster then knocking back cider-laced Kool-Aid. Arriving at the studio, it’s comforting to see that our teacher, Rosie Rees, doesn’t look old enough to even know what Jonestown was.
Death cult aside, there’s still the terrifying “bending over naked in front of strangers” requirement, so I quickly make a beeline to the far back corner.
Feeling grateful I practiced naked in the lead-up to this class –- walking between the kitchen and bathroom at home a few times -– sitting on my mat wearing a robe, I actually start to feel relaxed about the whole thing.
Rosie has an ethereal vibe and is floating around giving everyone hugs; the room is heated and is starting to feel like a little womb. Then someone sets up shop directly behind me.
My worst nightmare has come true: someone will be staring at my sacred lady parts.
This is seriously the worst thing ever and it’s too late to escape -– our sharing circle is about to begin. As we go around the circle giving our reasons for being here, women are opening up about body image and self-esteem struggles, and wanting to feel empowered.
Allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable, Rosie says, is the key to breaking down any barriers to empowerment. “It takes real strength and courage to step out of your comfort zone and be vulnerable,” she says.
“Being vulnerable on the yoga mat in a safe, honouring space helps you to grow, transform, shift old patterns of being and feel empowered to make decisions in your life that require inner power and boldness,” she added.
I’ll tell you this for free: you don’t get much more vulnerable than being naked on all fours two metres in front of a complete stranger. Which is exactly how we are three minutes later.
After shoving all arse-in-face panic to the back of my mind by closing my eyes and concentrating on breathing, my body really starts to relax. The same postures I’ve done hundreds of times before start to feel quite different -– more freeing. Being naked in a roomful of randoms really isn’t a big deal.
And then the breathing starts to… intensify. Rosie is building the class to its climax, encouraging us to sigh, groan, grunt, yell –- whatever noises we feel like making in the moment -– that’ll help to release whatever negative feelings are pent up inside.
I am no longer relaxed.
As everyone begins to get in touch with their feminine side, my feminine parts begin to contract.
The prude is back.
To be honest, it’s impressive these women are able to let go and really allow themselves to shed whatever heavy layers they’ve brought with them tonight. Meanwhile, my eyes and parts are closed so tight I’m starting to get a headache. Clearly, this yogi is not ready to shed.
As the class winds down with some meditation, I relax again and feel pretty chuffed at how almost natural all this nakedness feels right now.
Although my classmates were much better at allowing themselves to be free and vocal and vulnerable, I still sense a shift in myself. I know this because we’re all taking photos of each other in the buff and my prude-o-meter isn’t being triggered.
I bent over naked in front of strangers and survived. Would I do it again? Probably not. But I absolutely recommend you give it a shot.
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