I was naked in a room with 12 men… and it was great.
I stumbled upon Bold Naked 2 years ago after reading about this unique vinyasa class in passing. Interesting. I registered an account. The location of the studio is kept private, until you meet their criteria of non-creepers. The brief questionnaire asks about your personal practice, what you’re looking to gain from a nude class, etc.. et voilà. You’re in. All I had to do next was show up.
For 2 years, although I hadn’t signed up for a class, I read their weekly Monday emails equipped with an inspirational quote (i.e: “Authenticity is the most attractive garment you could ever wear.”) and reminder that “tomorrow is Co-ed Tuesday!” My Tuesday finally arrived. It was my last in NYC before moving to Bali. I cleared my calendar, took off work and declared it my monthly “Khat Day.” Yep, Khat Day is a thing.
I love being nude with my partner. But feel extremely shy around everyone else.. thats normal right? When my friends would go topless, I’d volunteer to take their infamous boobs-to-ocean-with-bathing-suit-top-in-right-hand kodak moment. Once, I went to a nude optional area in Lake Tahoe called the Secret Cove (highly recommend this spot!). While the entire population took that option, I kept my gear on. I wanted to “free bird” like everyone else but couldn’t place my brave badge. Where does it go when I need it the most!?
Off I trotted to this top secret building in Chelsea and ride an old elevator to the 5th floor. I slowly turn the knob to enter. “Wow. This is fresh!” I tiptoe onto black hardwood floors in this loft converted into a gorgeous, contemporary yoga space. I am greeted warmly by the co-owner and teacher, Monika to my right and nod a silent “hello” to a fully nude man on my left.
Stay cool. Look him in the eyes. Don’t look down. Smile and pretend he’s NOT shining his treasure at you. I find out almost immediately that I was one, if not the only, nude newbie.
Everyone is on a first name basis! Regulars. Monika checks me in, thankfully at that, as I diverge my attention from the group of men casually chatting about work, their weekend, the game, the dogs, etc, while getting undone. If there were changing rooms, I wouldn’t have known because no one was using them! They emptied their belongings into cubbies. Behind them, some students were already situated on their mats in a dim lit room.
Monika informs me that she usually declines sign ups to coed when the scale tips too far to a single gender. That evening, she didn’t have the heart to turn anyone away, being that Bold Naked would not be renewing their lease. Ok.. what does that mean for me? With two coed classes left, she adds, “there are a lot more men in the class tonight.” A lot. They were ALL men. Most of the students looked like young professionals in their 30s and 40s. I was definitely the youngest. Good GOD. “Oh, ok!” I say, with a little too much pep in my step.
Meanwhile, I’m still in this pattern of stripping and stalling. “Ok jacket goes on coat rack. Oh wait. Can’t forget to hang my scarf! La la la. Jeans off first. Squirrel!” I stalled long enough for most of the students to disperse themselves, like afternoons in NYC post-rush hour when everyone wants at least an arms length distance from each other. That’s when an angel came through the door and was greeted with hugs by same naked man. I forget the name of this angel but all I could remember thinking was, “Yes! A female. More plz. Thanks.” There were 14 of us spaced out generously. 12 were men.
I snag a spot on the third and final row because no way in hell was I compromising any emotional resistance in my favorite pose, downward facing dog. Catch my drift? I set up camp between two men. I highly recommend this being a BYOM (bring your own mat) kind of class. Although they offer mat rentals.. come on guys. Butt Sweat level 99! Dude on my left who initiates small talk thankfully gets a silent hush as the lights dim a bit more. Monika makes her way to the front of the room. She looks great.
Damn. Who wakes up like that?!
She checks in with each of us individually and by name, asking how we were feeling on a scale of 1-10. Honestly, I was at 5. By the time she made it to “Katherine?” I warmed up to a 7/8. Monika paves a very comfortable space. It’s like letting out a long sigh.
We began checking in with our physical selves as the lights cycled through a rainbow of soothing colors.
Here we go.
If I thought any longer of my infinite insecurities I had in that room, I’d be stealing time and possible joy from myself. I’d be distracting my mind from the present experience. In Sanskrit, this practice of non-stealing is called “asteya.” I could change nothing about my setting. The class would go on even if I rolled up my mat and walked right out.