I Tried Naked Yoga in NYC. Here's What You Need to Know.
The first thing you need to know about naked yoga is that it exists. It is a real thing. A thing people do. Sure, it’s not as popular as some other great New York pastimes, like late-night ramen, strolling the High Line or, you know, regular yoga... but yoga in the nude is definitely something going on in NYC. I should know -- I did it.
While I’m sure naked yoga studios in New York are as ubiquitous as Famous Ray’s -- and I just didn’t realize it -- my quest took me to Bold & Naked. The studio has a variety of yoga class options, including clothed yoga, naked yoga just for men, and naked co-ed yoga. The studio keeps its address under wraps, but will reveal it to approved members via email. To apply, visit the website and register by answering a few simple questions, which are all pretty obvious: What is your comfort level with yoga? What would you like to get out of naked yoga? Are you comfortable with the yoga class breaking out into a full-on orgy? Okay that one was a joke... but that brings me to the second thing you need to know about naked yoga...
Naked yoga will NOT break out into a full-on orgy
In fact, there’s really nothing sexual about it at all... you know, besides the fact that everyone is naked. I arrived at the Chelsea studio and checked in with owners/teachers Monika and Joschi, who are masters at making you feel instantly at ease. You almost forget that you’re about to bend over and spread things, naked, for the next 75 minutes. Almost. But a quick glance into the studio will jolt you back to reality (#AllTheManAss). Only one thing left to do now. Strip.
So there I was, just walking around naked through a yoga studio on a chilly night. Classic Tuesday. (Gentlemen, they keep the studio really warm, if that was of any concern...)
The classes are capped
This is not the maximum capacity-packed Yoga to the People, where you are guaranteed to kick the person next to you in the face and whisper “sorry!” about 9,000 times. The classes are intimate, meaning people have plenty of room to spread out, so you don’t have to worry about arms, legs, or other... extremities... invading your personal space.
I took my place on my mat (in the back of the class, obviously) and waited to begin. Tip: the studio is sleek and absurdly clean -- almost spa-like, and while they do have mats available for rental, you probably want to bring your own. There was an ass on that rental mat before yours. Just saying.
Monika dimmed the lights (oh thank God) and took her spot at the front of the room. There were about seven of us in the class, a mix of men and women. One last reality check: yep, definitely still naked.
Having come to terms with that, the next obvious concern was what poses would be selected. Surely in naked yoga there are a few choice poses that they would avoid. Surely. And that brings us to the next thing you need to know about naked yoga...
They do not avoid those poses
Any pose is fair game. And I mean ANY pose. The class starts out like a traditional yoga class. Relax in Child’s Pose, up to Mountain Pose, through the traditional Vinyasa flow. Spice it up with a little Warrior 1, 2, and 3. After a while I began to forget that my lady parts were out and about, and that if the guy next to me moved a little to the left I’d definitely see balls. Because I didn’t want to be labeled "the perv," I kept my focus directly in front of me. In a weird way, this allowed me to focus on the personal practice and even push myself to try harder, which is kind of the point of yoga anyway. Naked yoga? #nailedit. Or so I thought...
All was going fine. I was flowing and sun salutationing and warrioring my naked ass off, until Monika called for Malasana pose. Don’t know what that is? Google it right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Okay too long, here it is...
Oh yes, that DEFINITELY happened.
If you're going to do naked yoga, you better be sure you are doing naked damn yoga
Listen, I can’t lie to you. It’s not like I didn’t take a peek. It’s naked freaking yoga! You definitely see some bits. But it’s not the Peeping Tom, "bare all" experience that immediately leaps to mind. It’s really a logistics thing. If the dude in front of you is rocking Downward Facing Dog, then so are you, and so is the person behind you. If you’re twisting to the left, so is the person next to you, so if you are seeing something you don’t want to be seeing, then you’re doing it wrong, or you are looking for it.
As for the whole sexual aspect, this is a classic example of Seinfeld’s “good naked” and “bad naked.” A man squatting in Chair Pose, naked, isn’t on my list of turn-ons. Sex and “being sexy” are about mystery and discovery. Naked yoga is just the human body. I’m fairly certain you’ve been naked before and if you aren’t a complete awkward mess, then chances are you’ve probably seen other people naked, too. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before -- I promise. Cue the inspirational soundtrack, but it’s actually kind of empowering. At the very least, when it’s over, maybe the mundane things that freak you out, like actually calling a restaurant to order takeout or sitting at a restaurant alone, won’t seem like such a big deal.
You live in New York because you love a challenge. Well, here you go.
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This story was originally published on 2/20/2015.