The lapse of luxury

"It is bitter to have loved and lost than never to laugh it off," Bamuall Subtler

Friday, April 14, 2006

nude yoga

Ron Stewart leading Skyclad Yoga in Vancouver; photo by Mark Van Manen, Vancouver Sun
Nude yoga is taking off in Vancouver and it's a great experience for anyone uncomfortable in their own skin. Arriving early to the class I didn't want to be the first one undressed so I sheepishly waited for the instructor's cue. I was already familiar with the liberating sensation of freedom at a nude beach. But the intimacy of being in a group of naked men made me accutely aware of my imperfections. Before long I was touched by feelings of our shared fragility. I felt entirely present and honest. Although the class didn't concentrate on the spiritual aspects of yoga, afterward I wanted to live a life of transparent integrity, naked.

Many of us grow up with a dislike and distrust of our body and its processes. My background is WASP, but my mother was undogmatically spiritual and my father agnostic. They never explicitly taught me to feel ashamed of my body or pleasure, but I grew up fearing my body, particularly sexuality. The body seemed obscene because it aroused my homo-erotic desires, desires everyone I knew labelled as perverted, disgusting or sick. I agreed with everyone, but my filthy desires would not obey me and convert to normalcy.

My mind was out of joint with my dick and I covered up any hint of carnality: never dressed in trendy clothes, always bland blues and browns, no shorts or short-sleeves, shirts buttoned up to the neck. School sports were scary; I maneouvered myself onto the shirts team -- once I couldn't get off the skins team and I cried; I was never caught naked in a change room after swimming, the toilet stalls had to do.

I grew up being a believer in cool rationality, an atheist with Buddhist leanings. My beliefs taught me to accept myself but my skin still told me to cover up.

My intense shyness gradually led me to obsess about getting out of my clothes. I started by going alone to nude beaches so that I could keep on my demure persona with people I knew. But nude yoga seems to be pulling away the last layers...I view the naked body as completely human, undeniably sexual, but plenty of other things too. Now I can be naked with anyone, even myself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand a contradiction between what's right and one's morals. Morals are organic and evolutionary. So is one's sense of right. Some very general things don't really seem to change, in their core, but can change in their practical expression. If there is a conflict between what's right or one's morals, isn't that a sign that one's morals are deficient or that one's sense of right is out of perspective? Please enlighten me

8:04 p.m.  
Blogger Reid said...

Thanks for your comment! The quotation appealed to my love of paradox and wordplay. But it also makes the practical distinction between one's code of behaviour (morals) and how one makes an ethical decision at any given moment (sense of what's right). I agree with you that they are both organic, but disagree that a conflict is a sign of any deficiency.

For eg maybe it was immoral to quote Isaac Asimov out of context, but my heart was in the right place ;)

11:41 a.m.  

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