LetterfromtheDirector_April2019

Naked Yoga | Letter from the Director | April 2019 Editorial

Our Karma weekend for the annual Grow Your Yoga initiative happens this month (26th-28th). Modo Yoga studios worldwide will host community fundraising events to raise money for forest protection and conservation. We hope you can make it for the MYBW Stories Workshop on the Sunday afternoon, or maybe the Talent Show & Silent Auction on Saturday evening. Friday is the (always a hit!) Teacher Takeover Day, when some of our fantastic teachers get to shake things up a bit by doing something different and having fun with it.

We’ve added another special class to the Takeover day; MYBW’s first ever Naked Yoga class. This is a class I’ve wanted the studio to host for quite some time, and it feels like that time is now. Although the idea of practicing in the buff at a yoga studio may hit you as silly, shocking, scary, pointless, or all of the above, the main purpose of this class is to address exactly that; all the reasons why any of us may be uncomfortable with practicing in the skin each of us was born in, so to speak. After all, people’s opinions, expectations and behaviour toward body exposure and what is acceptable, are as varied and numerous as there are yoga poses.

Naked yoga aside, we’ve come a long way considering that when yoga was introduced to the West in the 1890’s, even bathing suits resembled smocks and dresses that covered shoulders to knees. Since then, fashion has evolved to the point where the word ‘clothing’ sometimes barely meets its own definition, the LGBTQ population gained relatively stronger status, the #metoo revolution is redefining feminism, and personal body acceptance is becoming a conscious practice. Which brings us to MYBW’s very first and sacred Naked Yoga class.

At 10pm on April 26th, clothed students will enter a barely lit heated practice room and begin to remove clothing as we sequence through the familiarity of the 60 minute Modo series. With the mirrors curtained and our mats located around the perimeter of the room, students will face the centre of the room. MYBW teacher Shai Saliba and I will lead this class verbally, as we too practice on our mats along with you.

The shedding of clothing in this class furthers the yogic symbolism of the shedding of self-identity. Consider the stories you may hold as you feel your resistance toward attending this class and the opportunity waiting to help you let go of certain beliefs around what is beautiful, what is safe, or what is proper. This can be a chance for you to more positively embrace your body and it’s felt gender, or possibly, to shed the concept of gender and feel the free and simple being that you are for that hour.

Experiences such as these can help us all in moving toward a more body-positive society—in particular obliterating the ridiculous notion there is such a thing as a ‘yoga body’.

This class is also a gesture of support toward finding more safety in the studio (and the world) for all, and in particular anyone who may identify more with a gender other than what they were assigned at birth. For most of us (including Shai and myself), to practice yoga nude, in a room with other naked beings, either familiar or unknown, is to enter a level of vulnerability and excitement that will likely soften and feel safer with frequency. I believe this is especially needed for all our sisters at this time, as they stand more firmly in the message of equality, and this is why it feels like it’s time for the MYBW community to make space on our schedule for such an experience.

There’s also the want behind providing this class to help relax and support the conversation around MYBW’s attempt to comfort all sexual identities when it comes to our accessible change rooms. If you’re not already aware, the change rooms at MYBW are offered as gender-fluid, meaning students are entitiled to respectfully choose which change room they feel most comfortable using. We’re a ways from the true definition of gender fluid change rooms (one change room for all), yet even the architectural design of the studio, including change rooms with partial walls and no entry door, are part of our attempt to look for the ways in which we can sincerely move toward MYBW being ‘a place for all’.

The conversations are certainly happening, and for a studio that purports to offer space for accessible and inclusive transformation for everyone, hopefully Naked Yoga will help take us all a little further in that direction, whether you attend this class or not.

See you in the practice room,

Don