Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Love Letter to Naked Yoga & it's Community

I’ve been perusing my computer today, moving through old photo shoots of when I first began Naked Yoga and dared to bare my asana on high-rise buildings, on Sandy-Hook Beach, on a third story roof in the meat-packing district, all in the name of freedom, celebration and love. As I sifted through over three years of old photos, I was shocked at my very visceral response to them. Some, quite literally took my breath away. I remember at one time, being afraid to look at the photos of me doing yoga naked, hiding them deep in the belly of the hard drive on my computer. But today, something made me look and when I did, I saw such unmistakable beauty present in this practice that I had been previously unavailable to fully witness.

Naked yoga has been one of the most beautiful and self-sustaining practices of my life. As a woman holding space for this practice, naked yoga, more than anything else, has assisted me in moving through the body-image bullshit that has accumulated throughout my life. This practice drops me into one-ness with my body, releasing the bully of the mind the and the judgment of the ego. The naked yoga practice has been a constant in my life for the past three and a half years, a flowering perennial that continues to bloom, sustain and resurrect itself each year. Of course when I brought my movement to NYC, I was sure I was the first to trail blaze this movement. But sadly, I’m reminded there is no original work, there were already a few naked yoga circles going in NYC. One was a men’s group Hot Nude Yoga in Chelsea caterings to primarily gay and bisexual men, another was in Brooklyn, male run and male attended but allowed women and then there was a group already led by a woman Britt McMurray who had taken over naked yoga classes from a woman named Wendy Tremaine. I collaborated with Britt for a short time until she left the practice entirely and shortly after that I birthed Phoenix Temple to hold ongoing classes for Naked Yoga.

Not only has this practice helped heal my own shame I’ve felt over my body, but it’s made me more at ease in the world. I find there are so many more layers I have to work through when I attend a clothed yoga class – not just layers of clothing but also of karma keeping me both separate from the experience, the group and the yoga.

This practice has been so dear to me and the press has been forth coming and also, surprisingly filled with grace. I am amazed at how this practice transforms lives. Over the past three and a half years, there has been a shocking lack of ill-intentioned people showing up in my Temple Space and to the practice. Most are earnest, nervous, with a desire and longing to continue to unravel their own societal shame conditioning, reaching for a moment of stillness and freedom in the galloping pace of New York City. Each time, I feel myself go into contraction around a pose in class; ‘ oh my god, my ass is in the air, and I think I have a hemorrhoid from this cleanse I’ve been doing’ I Breathe, Release and Surrenders. Ahhh. This practice has been my lifeblood. It is always expanding, changing, growing and I love it.

Gratitude and love to the community who has shown up to this practice, from those who have made up the core of our community, to those teaching it in other communities and those who have previously taught and have passed on the torch to the next generation, to the women who dare to come to class or dare to think about coming to class, to those who simply practice in their living rooms and to those who google naked yoga wanting to see naked chicks in exotic poses and who find this and are transformed, Thank you. Thank you for daring, for loving, for being.

ISIS Phoenix – Founder Naked Yoga NYC