When was the last time you spent any time naked, away from showering or having sex? Strong Women editor Miranda Larbi tried doing a 25-minute yoga class in the nude and found it to be the best use of her lunchtime.
Imagine this: I’m in a downward dog, one stay drop of sweat rolling down my chest towards my neck – butt in the air. Beyond my net curtains, a couple of council workers are drilling opposite my living room window. People are walking past. And I’m pedalling out my calves, totally naked.
Naked yoga probably sounds like the ultimate wellness gimmick. It sounds like the kind of thing Gwyneth might do at Goop HQ or an Only Fans subscription for people who want to be brought to nirvana in more ways than one. And in many ways, a label like “naked yoga” is perhaps a slightly affected way to describe it, up there with “weed yoga”, “puppy yoga” and “broga yoga”.
While I’ve never seen a naked yoga class offered anywhere or come across anyone who teaches it (and even if someone was teaching it in a studio somewhere, would you really want to see other people’s bits hanging and swinging in the asana wind?), but given that yoga is all about connecting the body to breath and practising some kind of appreciation for the ways your body can move, doing it in the nude does kind of make sense.
So, after a particularly trying morning, I decided to try a 25-minute flow in my living room – sans yoga kit. I choose an energising Yoga with Adriene class, bring out my softest Lululemon mat (it’s got a kind of suede-like texture rather than your usual rubber number) and set myself up in front of my laptop.
Even the act of removing all my clothes in my living room on a Tuesday lunchtime seems quite wild. We’re fine with being naked in our own bathrooms or when we’re having sex, but when was the last time you walked around your flat or house with no clothes on in the middle of the day?
Being naked has some genuine benefits. Studies have found that sleeping in the buff can improve sleep quality and may even increase your metabolism, thanks to lowering body temperature. Other research has found that you can increase your body image, self-esteem and life satisfaction by spending more time naked.
I press play on the YouTube video and come into an all-fours position on my mat. The flow begins with a cat-cow sequence, before moving into mountain pose and into a traditional vinyasa – flowing between standing, folding, planking and downward dogging.
And at each point, I notice how my body looks and feels. I’m focusing on the way my boobs and belly hang upside down, how my quads engage, how my stomach stretches in cobra. When you’re used to working out regularly but not used to being naked, that can all come as a bit of a shock; it’s wild just how low your stomach can hang in a plank.
I’m aware of how the mat feels on my bare bum cheeks and the air on my back. My skin starts to feel slightly damp as the class proceeds, with no material to wick moisture. I start to smell my own pheromones (or perhaps just stale sweat). There’s something almost primal about moving like this without a stitch on.
For 25 minutes, I’m absolutely in the moment. Despite the fact that I can hear drilling, cars, chatting and children yelling outside, my focus is on the mat. And I start to notice how much less bothered I become about how my body looks in these poses. So much of yoga these days seems to be about how people look, whether it’s in expensive kits or fancy poses. Not having a mirror or sports bra cutting into my back fat means getting rid of those barriers or standards.
At the end of the class, I’m a little sticky but refreshed. Slowly, I put my regular clothes back on and feel slightly sad at having to do so (but given that anyone could suddenly Zoom you, working in the nude is a more risky game). I’ll definitely try to do more naked yoga on the days that I’m WFH – even if it’s only for 10 minutes. And actually, I want to spend more time in general without wearing clothes, weather permitting. I probably just need to make sure that those net curtains are genuinely opaque from the outside first.
Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.