Growing up in a conservative city, heavily influenced by money and status, in a household that never spoke about sex, with a mother who got breast implants and a round of liposuction, I would say I was not raised in an environment that nurtured much self-love and acceptance. Although my Mom was quite comfortable being nude herself, one day I accidentally walked in on my step-dad coming out of the shower, which resulted in a surprised scream from both of us, and me running out of my parents room embarrassed and something on the edge of disgusted. In addition to all of this, naturally I battled with my own relationship to food and my body, fluctuating in and out for years with binging and bulimia. I felt I could always stand to be ten pounds lighter, and that when I was, I would surely be happier, more beautiful, and perhaps finally find the love and acceptance I so deeply longed for.
I write you now from an FKK beach in Berlin, Germany. FKK stands for Frei Korper Kultur, or Free Body Culture in English. In Germany it is quite normal to be naked at the beach, naked in the sauna, and have one changing room for all genders. I love moments like these, where I myself am naked, and many people around me of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds are also enjoying life and just soaking up the simplest pleasures in life. The best things in life are free..
I was on my first date ever with a woman in San Francisco, and together we attended an acro-yoga class. At the Sun Room on Mission street, a group of about 10 of us flew and laughed and defied gravity as well as we could. As I was leaving the Sun Room that day, I looked at the schedule and saw bright and clear, ‘Naked Yoga for Men.’ Naked Yoga for Men?! I wanted to do Naked Yoga! But where was Naked yoga for women?! That evening I searched ‘Naked Yoga for Women SF’, only to find a big list of.. NOTHING. How was it possible that no one was already offering such an obvious-seeming class in this oh-so-out there city?! As I was not yet a ‘certified’ yoga instructor, I put this exciting idea in a heart pocket and knew it would be something I would come back to in the future.
I discovered my exhibitionist self after moving to San Francisco at the age of 20. My comfort and excitement quickly showed itself as I attended events such as The World Naked Bike Ride, Burning Man, nude protests against cruelty towards animals with PETA, as well as trading my morning cup of coffee for skinny-dipping in the Pacific Ocean. There was a lot of ‘Wow’ factor in this city, which consisted of countless opportunities to push my edges and question my own ideas of who I thought I was.
Shortly after sinking into the open-minded community of the Bay area, I began hearing about Harbin Hot Springs. Soon enough I made my way to this magical space in the world, just a few hours north of the city. Visiting on my own, for two nights, this was the first place I ever really saw so many naked bodies. Everyone seemed so relaxed, there for their own pleasure and joy, far away from any show or adrenalin rush that may have come from more public nudity that I had experienced before. Such diversity in bodies and the expression of these beautiful souls, so seemingly comfortable, and in a space free of sexualization, harm, or judgment; something sparked in me these days which is still alive and well.
My personal experience with nudity, alone and within groups, has deeply expanded my self acceptance in both the physical and inner-workings of my being. It has given me the space to feel beautiful, sexy, and fucking powerful. There is power in awareness; and going deeper in exploring my body and seeing that of others has given me the insight into who I truly am.
A deep passion of mine is women, menstruation, moon rituals, sexuality, healing, and empowerment, so naturally Naked Yoga fits quite well. Naked Yoga for Women is a celebration. I dream of more spaces on this planet where all people can feel and truly BE safe to be naked, or dress how they want, to be sexy, strong, and confident, everywhere they go in the world. How would our society express itself differently if this were the reality? A world where no one had to worry about harassment, assault, or discrimination because of their body, their gender, or the way they dressed. I believe that as a collective, we are supporting this shift as more and more individuals find personal comfort and acceptance in their own bodies.
Some people are not so impressed with Naked Yoga, expressing distaste and even offense. I am curious if they understand my point in this offering. Yoga has been practiced in the nude since the beginning of the art, including in the birthplace of yoga, India. India is also one country in the world where violence against women is still devastatingly prevalent. Naked Yoga for Women is a space for women to be empowered, and to create a network of like-minded sisters who know their own strength. Naked Yoga is a stand against the materialistic consumerism that is hard to avoid with the current yoga craze booming all around the world. Naked Yoga is an active ‘No’ to slave and child labor, which is likely where the majority of yoga and clothing brands are being produced. Naked Yoga is a stand against perfectionism; it is not a show but an experience with ones self.
A world where all people are safe, loved, and know they are infinitely beautiful, special, and unique. A world where all are welcome to come as they are, regardless of looks and ability. My intention for Naked Yoga for Women is just that; coming together in a circle of women, to reflect our divine beauty and strength in one another, to hold each other softly in any fears, judgments, or negative self beliefs that we may carry. It’s quite simple really.
Every day in our lives we wear a costume, a shield of armor; we choose how we want to be seen, and that is also a beautiful experience. But in Naked Yoga, we come to remove all masks that we hide behind; to show up with all of our vulnerabilities, scars, dimples, hairs, smells, and all seemingly ‘imperfections’, to hopefully soften and expand into a deeper space of self-love and acceptance.
So many reasons to do and to love Naked Yoga, and I am sure my understanding and relationship to this practice will continue to evolve. Goddess Bless these bodies, which we are so fortunate to have. May all people express gratitude in a flow of celebration, expanding into power and our unique and divine beauty. There is noting left to hide when you know and you trust that everything is love, and love is the most beautiful thing there is.
I love you Beautiful.
© Picture: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos