Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Diary of a Naked Yoga Girl: Thoughts on Body Image

Alternet has a funny and thoughtful piece by Tolly Moseley titled "Naked Yoga? Why I Stripped Down to Do "Clothing Optional" Yoga"

Here's a few clips:

"My instructor looked at me from the head of the dim room and smiled. Not in a creepy way, more in a “you can do this!” way. But I wasn’t so sure. I had struck a Warrior One pose a thousand times before, yet I still stumbled into the person next to me more often than I cared to admit. Normally I’d just offer a little self-deprecating shoulder shrug and move on, but what would I say in this situation? “Oops! I just ran into your bare penis”?"
"A popular euphemism for “naked yoga” is “clothing optional yoga,” but for me, opting for clothing would defeat the whole purpose. Naked yogis flock to the path to achieve radical body acceptance, after all. Also: If I learned anything in my college art classes, it’s not that raw nudity was sexual so much as the suggestion of nudity. Leaving some parts teasingly covered. Botticelli knew it, Victoria’s Secret knew it, and I knew it. I was going all. The. Way."

You can read the rest of her story and how the classes worked out on Alternet.

It brings up a lot of issues about body image, and what is natural in today's plastic society.
In my youth, my average middle-class family was not at all prudish, but somewhat conservative in body image. There was no skinny-dipping or flaunting of bodies (until I got away from my parents).

One of my greatest memories was the first time I went to some hot springs in the Oregon wilderness. I was camping with my friend and his girlfriend up by the McKenzie river in late fall. We had a good campfire and lots of food and Beer. It was sleeting, cold, wet and dark. So I was surprised when they said they wanted to go up to the hot springs, because I didn't even know there were hot springs up there.

We grabbed beer, flashlights and towels and drove up the road about five miles, parking at a trail head.
I got out in the sleet and wind and thought "This had better be good..."
We started up the trail through the slush and mud, and finally came to some steps cut out of tree rounds set into the bank.
As we neared the top of the hill we could look down into the creekbed below, and it blew my mind; there was heavy steam coming out of a series of pools beside the creek, and the entire scene was lit up by candels. Each pool was slightly hotter than the one below it, and there were naked men and women in each. We sat there for hours and sipped our Beer in a wilderness heaven.

That's about all it takes to get over body image issues. If you've ever been to a nude beach or similar setting, you know that very few of the bodies you see are fashion model types. Up where I live people freely swim naked in the lakes and ocean, and we share a "clothing optional" Sauna with visitors that come to a small hippie-oriented resort nearby.

Check out Tolly Moseley's article linked above and see how she got past her body image issues.