What Does a Naked Yoga Setting Look Like?
Around a shrine of sparkling crystal yoni eggs, fresh flowers, and Angel messenger cards, we sit in a circle, perched on bolsters, with soft silky robes draped around our bare bodies.
We are a patchwork of different coloured silk, hair, skin and eyes, each crossing paths at a unique point in our journeys.
One woman suggests we look like something from one of those “body-positive” underwear advertisements, because of the immense variety of luscious shapes we each represent.
The room is lit with the golden glow of candlelight, and moonbeams, flowing in through the window with the ocean breeze, cooling my skin prickling hot with nerves.
Rosie Rees and a Naked Yoga Experience
Adorned with a sheer, black, embroidered robe, and her hair tousled to the side, Rosie’s presence is kind, soothing and warm, as she welcomes each of us to share why we are here.
Through tears, some share they are here to heal from sexual trauma.
Through smiles, some share they are here out of curiosity.
Two are here to connect with their changing body – pregnancy and menopause.
Most are here as part of an ongoing journey to reclaim their sacred feminine, their sexuality, sensuality and sense of empowerment.
What connects us all, however, is what brought all 26 women to Rosie Rees’ Nude Yoga workshop, was our collective craving for safety, female connection, and ritual.
Women and Their Cultural Ritual
For generations, women have found solace in gathering together and connecting through their cultural rituals, until the rise of capitalism, colonialism and patriarchy, threatened – if not destroyed – the existence of these spaces.
In recent times, however, there has been a resurgence of women’s circles, offering a break from the monotony of a consumerist world built for men.
A break from the consumerist patriarchy in action – which is so evident in the sexualisation and commodification of women’s bodies.
Through generations of living in entrenched patriarchal, heteronormative capitalism, women have been objectified and commodified to such an extent, that there are men who feel entitled to our bodies.
We’ve internalised the commodification and sexual objectification to such a degree, that sometimes we even struggle to see our worth beyond how fuckable we are.
The idea that in our society, women are constantly being presented as sexualised objects, and men as subjects who benefit from the sexual objectification of women, is what critical theory and social justice Professor Caroline Heldman, calls the subject/object dichotomy.
Dr Heldman says women have been socialised to aspire to appeal to the standards of the subject/object dichotomy, such that we measure our self-worth, against how well we appear to be conforming to the image of the ideal sexualised woman – who is submissive.
According to Dr Heldman, women come to be self-objectifiers as a result of internalising the idea that their worth is underpinned by how well they achieve these societal expectations.
In our day to day lives, we come to engage in a behaviour called habitual body monitoring, as a result of our self-objectification. We pick ourselves apart; we suck our tummies in, change our position in our chairs so our thighs look smaller, and spend valuable energy worrying about how our hair or make-up looks. We engage in spectatoring during sex, where we view ourselves in the third person, wondering how good we look or sound to the person we’re sleeping with, rather than enjoying the experience for ourselves.
We experience depression and social anxiety as a result of body-loathing and self-hatred and develop eating disorders to fit the mould of what we think a worthy woman looks like.
What Is It Like to Feel Naked While Doing Yoga in the Company of Others?
I have a tick next to all of the above, but, when I was in Rosie’s nude yoga workshop, I felt free from the dichotomy.
It was the first time I felt like my nudity, in the company of others, wasn’t sexualised, or performative.
My soul relished in the ritualistic beauty of unveiling my soft glowing flesh from beneath the robe. It felt as though it were symbolic of shedding layers of shame, fear and body-loathing, weighing heavy on my shoulders.
Catching glimpses of my radiating silhouette in the glossy mirror, Rosie guided us through gentle stretches, opening up the hips, the heart and surrendering to the symphony of sounds escaping our lips.
Groans, moans, whispers and screams – all sounds of a craving for expressing emotion, being satisfied.
Within the candlelit walls of the warm yoga studio, our shadows flickered across the ceiling like divine dancers, as I experienced my body in her sensual, living, breathing form, for no reason other than to experience her in that way.
Listening to Rosie’s prompts, the air cascaded through my lungs as I inhaled, allowing my breath to connect me to a part of myself that I’ve been taught to overlook my whole life.
As my bones roll through the ebbs and flows of my breath, I became deeply aware of the vulnerability, openness and sanctity of my yoni, and the power she holds.
Her power to give life, to guide us through the cycles of our everchanging bodies, to be a source of creative energy and her powerful resilience to overcome intergenerational trauma.
Rosie tells us to draw our hips up in a bridge position – to firmly plant our feet and stretch our sex-centre up to the warm flickering ceiling.
Our legs form a wall of awakened women.
“Pussy power,” has never rung truer than in this moment.