When Bold & Naked Yoga launched New York’s first co-ed naked yoga classes late last year, it created lots of buzz (and yoga-pant gratitude) among yogis, as they pictured themselves, and classmates, in overexposed happy baby pose.
Me? I was just curious. I’d only been naked in public once at a nude beach with my boyfriend, but we had a good time. So, I asked him to be my date (since being naked among men without him just seemed a little unfair), and he enthusiastically agreed.
After trying out the women-only class as a warm-up, we showed up for co-ed naked yoga on a Sunday afternoon.
The Chelsea studio feels like a hip speakeasy, with leather seating for hanging out, clothed, before and after class. You can get naked behind changing screens, stash your clothes in the cubbies, and grab a tiny towel that will help you as you tentatively tiptoe into the studio and roll out your mat. (Note: it takes two hands.)
Co-owner Monika Werner directed us inside the actual studio, which was filled with bright, natural light. My boyfriend conveniently decided he needed to use the bathroom at that moment, and I hesitated at the door. But just then a woman removed her last article of clothing, headed in, and plopped down on her mat. So I tried to follow suit (or suitless), and, in the buff, went in, closed my eyes, and sat breathing in cross-legged position until my boyfriend set up next to me.
As we started our flow, I realized two men were behind me and I started to observe them closely, making guesses about their sexuality. Were they moving slowly so they could look at me in downward dog, or were they just struggling to keep up with the sequence? I could see penises. They could see my, well, everything. Eventually, I just had to let it go. I couldn’t keep an eye on them and keep myself from falling over in half moon, I told myself.
Werner was no-nonsense and nonchalant, and led us through a challenging vinyasa sequence that moved so fast I almost forgot I was baring all. And she made no concessions to our lack of coverage. We did split-legged squats, shoulder stand, crow pose, and, yes, happy baby. With students’ permission, she also performed hands-on adjustments.
My boobs, surprisingly, didn’t get in the way at all, but I did miss my underwear. I even sleep with it on, so it was a matter of physical comfort, not embarrassment, which had me dreaming of cotton skivvies.
In the end, though, Werner and the studio’s atmosphere really did create a safe, non-judgmental environment. And I walked out feeling like a hippie badass.
Afterward, I asked my boyfriend what he thought about the whole thing. He liked it, and he told me he hadn’t had dirty thoughts during class, until he looked over and saw me in a backbend towards the end. I mean, that’s perfectly fine for him, but it did give me pause. —Alden Wicker
Private location in Chelsea, $30 for the first class, $25 after, www.boldnaked.com