Photo Courtesy Of Bold & Naked Yoga.
A few years ago, during the heyday of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I was flipping through channels when I landed on an episode in which Kim takes a naked yoga class, much to her then-husband Kris Humphries' amusement. I, personally, never kept up with the Kardashians, but the idea of naked yoga had me entranced. I figured these classes were just another PR exploitation strategy — a mythical plot device created to ensure higher cable TV ratings. But, flash forward a few years, and there I was stripping down in the changing room (yes, even naked studios have changing rooms) of Chelsea’s BOLD & NAKED yoga studio.
I first heard buzz about BOLD & NAKED earlier this year when the seven-year-old studio announced its newest class: a co-ed version of the previously men’s-only naked yoga class. Figuring it was probably just an excuse for New Yorkers to leer at one another, I couldn’t imagine the class being anything less than sexually charged — even though the FAQ section of the studio's website acknowledges, “While many equate being naked with sex, this couldn't be further from the truth in a naked yoga class.” I was intrigued by this idea, and after I read a few reviews of the class, getting naked for some sun salutations quickly became a personal goal of mine. I wanted to be able to say, “Yes, I took a naked yoga class, no big deal.” I wanted to prove that I was comfortable and secure with my body.
I booked my class a week in advance, so I had time to prepare — mentally, physically, and emotionally. I devised all sorts of ways to “get ready” for the class, thinking it might be the perfect incentive I needed to detox my diet, get rid of some residual winter bloat, and warm up my vampire-white skin with a spray tan. But, as the class got closer, none of that remained important to me. I realized I no longer cared about primping for a 60-minute yoga class the way I might have primped before a promising first date. This was not about impressing my classmates; it was about feeling comfortable in my own skin. If I had to go through a week’s worth of preparation in order to feel secure with myself, what did that say about me?
Photo Courtesy Of Bold & Naked Yoga.
So, still sporting my wintry complexion, I met my friends for brunch before heading to naked yoga. I had woken up that morning with butterflies in my stomach, and I was too nervous to eat. When I finally told them what my afternoon had in store, they were completely shocked — but still supportive, encouraging, and excited for me (“You’re going to have such hot sex after,” they said).
I walked home after brunch, planning to shower and dab on some light makeup and body lotion before heading back out for naked yoga. But, once I got there, I realized there was no point in preparing; instead, I was going to do this completely au naturel. I arrived a few minutes early to the class’s secret location in Chelsea and was warmly greeted by my instructor (and BOLD & NAKED's co-founder), Monika Werner. Monika’s inviting nature instantly calmed me down, and suddenly, the idea of getting naked in front of a class of 16 people (each class has an equal ratio of men to women) didn’t seem so intimidating.
While I chose to disrobe in the changing rooms, other students casually walked in and effortlessly stripped down in the reception area. Part of me was jealous of their ability to confidently strut around naked, making small talk with the other students. It seemed like no one cared to acknowledge or was even aware of the elephant in the room – the fact that everyone was completely, totally, balls-out naked. Once class commenced, the whole nakedness thing started to seem...normal. Yes, I saw more genitalia than I may ever see again, but that seemed like an afterthought; the focus of the class was on the yoga poses themselves and maintaining concentration throughout. By the end, I nearly forgot that I was naked.
So, what’s a naked yoga class really like? Basically, it's just like any other yoga class — except your Lululemon pants get to sit this one out. Although, you probably want to bring your own mat.
To take a class or learn more about BOLD & NAKED Yoga, visit their website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 212-399-6307.