When Bold & Naked Yoga launched New York’s first co-ed naked yoga classes, it created lots of buzz among yogis, as they pictured themselves, and classmates, in overexposed happy baby pose. (How can you not want to know what happens in a nude yoga class?)
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 again, 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 (which is now in the Theatre District) 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.)
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.
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. Were they moving slowly so they could scope me out in downward dog, or were they just struggling to keep up with the sequence? And let me tell you—I could see penises, so they could definitely 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.
I could see penises. They could see my, well, everything. Eventually, I just had to let it go.
My boobs, surprisingly, didn’t get in the way at all, but I did miss my underwear. 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. —Alden Wicker
Originally published February 26, 2014; updated July 3, 2018.
Think naked yoga is out there? Wait until you find out what happens at Woom, a sense-stimulating wellness center. Rather get centered solo? Here are some easy ways to start meditating at home.
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