By Nancy Taylor
Naked yoga: I’ve tried it! Have you?
Got your attention, eh? If there was a February 29th it would be the 10-month anniversary of the day I started taking Bikram Yoga. I’ve experienced so many internal and external changes, many of which have surprised me, but none so much as the personal revelations I experienced the day I tried naked yoga. Not the naked yoga you might have heard about where you have to send in pictures of yourself to be approved to practice. That type of naked yoga is only for men, and only fit men at that.
My naked yoga was more personal.
A few days ago I was involved in making a short yoga video for my blog, and I decided to film myself, without clothes, doing some yoga poses. I wanted to see what my body looked like, really looked like, without the mask that clothing provides. I didn’t know what I’d see. I didn’t know how I’d feel. I’ve spent so many years having such negative thoughts about my body, and that’s not really surprising given that my body was, for years, too big to do things people take for granted such as sitting in a booth or buying underwear in a regular store.
It’s been so easy to see all that I thought or felt was wrong with my body. If I didn’t hear my own thoughts, I’d hear others snickering around me, pointing at me, whispering. It was hard to find the good in something so many people told me was wrong. Or if I got a compliment it was “You have a pretty face, but…”
My thoughts have changed much during this past year. I’ve gone from being semi-covered up in my yoga classes to practicing in bike shorts and a sports bra. And I’m quite comfortable with that mode of dress.
But something in me wanted to see how my body moved.
How it really looked. So I closed my blinds, turned on my lights, set my camera, took off my clothes and did some yoga. Naked yoga. I went through just a few of the postures I normally do, and after I finished, I got dressed and sat in front of my computer for a viewing.
As I watched the video, I found myself more than pleasantly surprised by my reaction. I didn’t experience a single bit of negativity. I could literally feel myself appreciating how my body moved. I loved seeing that my abdomen, which I don’t much care for, didn’t look as big as I sometimes feel it to be. I loved seeing how freely my body could move. Sure it jiggled and wiggled, but that’s to be expected — unless one has had an all over botox job!
Perhaps most importantly, I felt no shame. I watched. I observed. I appreciated. I expressed gratitude. I liked what I saw. And that I never saw coming. And that I’m grateful for in ways I can’t express. I could see where I’d been. I could visualize where I’m working toward being. And I saw where I am right now. And that’s an image I love.
I couldn’t imagine feeling this even a few months ago. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror without clothes, but seeing myself move—that’s something entirely differently altogether.
If you’re feeling brave enough, I’d recommend watching your body move while you’re not wearing clothes. You never know what you might see, and your experience might just surprise you! Love yourself! It’s an amazing feeling! Yoga really is reshaping me, physically AND mentally.
BTW, these videos will NEVER be put online, but they’ll be there for me to see, for me to measure my progress as I continue to emerge from my chrysalis.
About Nancy Taylor
Nancy Taylor is college professor from Southern California and an aspiring yogi who has practiced various forms of yoga for 18 years. She started practicing yoga to make peace with her body and is finding that yoga is actually about making peace with her demons. It’s helping her live her life according to her rules and not everyone else’s. In her spare time (of which she has none) she chronicles her journey to self-realization, her relationship with food, her relationship with her body, her yoga and weight loss efforts, or something like all of that, on her blog: confessionsofahawaiianprincess.wordpress.com/