Nude Yoga? Bare with Me!

Dance!I’m excited to bring you another article by expert contributor Kent Burden.  We all know how important it is to step out of our comfort zone in order to grow, and as Kent shares today, some lessons can be a little more revealing than others…

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Some times you have to step outside of your comfort zone to evolve into the person you want to be instead of the person you are. The fact is this process is seldom fun and often painful. But it is absolutely necessary for growth.

This is the story of one of those moments for me.

It was early in my fitness/wellness career. I was a personal trainer who taught a few boot camp-style classes when I was pressed into service–no Shanghaied– into teaching yoga. The yoga instructor at the spa where I was working quit unexpectedly and I was the only other person at the spa who had ever done yoga before but I had never taught yoga. Still this got me the job. Now this was back when yoga first started to get popular again in the mid 1990s and finding a yoga instructor was like trying to find a Republican at a Grateful Dead concert.

Feeling vastly under-qualified and terrified of being outed as a fraud I began having to teach yoga on a daily basis, often to people with far more yoga experience than I had. It was during this period I began having nightmares. You know the ones–your garden-variety nightmare where you’re completely unprepared, completely undressed in the front of the class and completely ridiculed by an unruly mob. In the dream I am late for class. In a panic, I grab my yoga mat and race for the studio. The class is packed. I throw down my yoga mat and introduce myself, only to realize that I’ve forgotten to put on any clothes.

One day after teaching yoga, a student from the class approached me. She said that she had really enjoyed the class and that she worked for an all-inclusive hotel chain in the Caribbean. This chain liked to bring in guest yoga instructors and they would pay for all expenses all you had to do was teach two classes a day. Sounded like a great deal to me; They would assign me to one of several resorts with varying themes like sports-oriented, high-end luxury, or their non-stop party location. A few days later I signed a contract stating that I would teach whatever, whenever, wherever in exchange for a one-week free vacation.

Three weeks later I was on a plane headed for the Caribbean. I arrived at the party hotel, unpacked and headed for the manager’s office where I was told I would get my schedule for the week. The manager was super busy but he welcomed me warmly and handed me my schedule, assuring me that his assistant would answer any questions I might have. She gave me a tour of the lush, tropical resort, explaining to me that the resort was divided in half. One side was the nude side and the other side was the prude side. “Your 7 am class tomorrow morning is “Nude Yoga on the Beach” and your  5pm class is “Sunset Yoga on the Prude Terrace.”

[photo credit: By vastateparksstaff [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

I stood there in shock. Nude yoga on the beach? She asked me if I had any questions, but all I could think of was that I had signed a contract to teach whatever, whenever, wherever they wanted me to. They’d flown me all the way down there from L.A. to the Caribbean– what the hell was I supposed to do? Nope, no questions, ma-am.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night–all I could think of was that my nightmares were coming true. At 7am I wrapped a towel around my naked waist, grabbed my yoga mat and headed down to the nude beach. There on the sand, assembled on towels and yoga mats were 40 people patiently waiting–most of them women and all of them naked as the day they were born. I strode confidently to the head of the class,..OK maybe not that confidently, laid out my yoga mat, ripped off my towel and in all of my naked glory introduced myself and started class. The participants ranged in age from early twenties to late sixties and honestly, it was a tough class to teach. There were students with lots of different fitness levels, the sand made balance postures tough, and there was the difficulty of analyzing body alignment while trying really hard not to “look” at bodies. I was a little freaked out about touching people to help them with their poses, even in places I would have been fine touching them clothed. Somehow it all seemed weird in this setting, because dammit, I was naked!

But I made it through class without any embarrassing, er, problems arising. At the end of class several people came up and told me how much they had enjoyed the class. A nice woman in her late fifties with HUGE blue eyes asked me “Are you a nudist?” I politely said no, to which she replied, “Well I really appreciate you respecting our lifestyle. My husband and I come down here three or four times a year and we always enjoy the yoga classes. But you’re the first teacher that ever taught the class naked!”

After the shock wore off, I realized that I had just lived through my “nightmare,” and while it had been challenging, I had made it through. Every class I taught after that seemed, well….easy. And when I was faced with a situation that was tough, my mantra became “Well, at least I don’t have to do this naked!” Not surprisingly the nightmares disappeared after that and yoga became my specialty. The resort was so impressed that I began to fly to the Caribbean on a regular basis moving from property to property to teach. As the popularity of yoga grew I was contacted by other companies to teach at their resorts and on cruise ships and was blessed with the opportunity to travel the world and teach yoga. Now I never taught nude yoga again, but somehow knowing that I could made me a far better teacher

What I learned was that stepping way outside of my comfort zone made everything seem possible and allowed me to be more than I ever thought I could be.

About Kent:

KentHeadshotKent Burden is a certified personal trainer, master wellness coach and has more than 18 group fitness certifications. He is an award winning author and is the creator of the “Workout at Work” e-book series. The first two books in the series are “Workout at Work: 25 Upper Body Strength Exercises with Resistance Bands to do at Your Desk,” and “Workout at Work: 25 Lower Body Strength Exercises to do at Your Desk.” Other recent books include “Exercise Sucks! The Secret to Losing Weight Without Really Trying” and “Is Your Chair Killing You?” All of Kent’s books are available at www.amazon.com

 

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I’d love to hear YOUR story!  When have you pushed the boundaries and stepped out of your comfort zone?  What did you discover about yourself in the process?

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Comments

  1. This post had me cracking up! Yes, I imagine if you can teach yoga nude you could do anything! I’m still smiling…

  2. hahahahaha I would’ve probably turned around and booked my flight home. I come out of my comfort zone occasionally, but that would be in another atmosphere. So cool how the older lady responded.

    • I’m with you Mimi. I’m not so sure I would have stuck it out.. I know he signed a contract but I think, had I been told I had to teach a nude yoga class I would have done a double take… and asked if that meant I needed to teach in the nude… but hey, more power to Kent! And as he said, if you can get through that, you can get through anything!

  3. Oh my that was funny! The older I get the more my comfort zone actually seems to grow. I do more and more things that used to make me uncomfortable.

    • I know I laugher when Kent first sent me this story! I agree with you Kimberly, as I get older I am more and more comfortable with myself and with taking chances… I hope that I am passing on that mindset to my daughters as well 🙂

  4. What an interesting life experience! It would be such a thrill to do this I think.

    • I love your attitude Nina… I suspect that nude yoga on a private beach would be quite an experience… a complete freedom.. but I don’t think I’d do any fitness activity nude, in public 😉

  5. Oh my, I could never come out of my comfort zone this much, LOL! Too funny!

  6. Wow, that’s not stepping out of your comfort zone — that’s taking a couple of leaps out of it!! I enjoyed the story though – especially the response of the older lady.

  7. What a story! I can imagine that it gives you confidence to face other challenges.

  8. OMG! I don’t think I could have done it. Kudos for stepping outside of your comfort zone.

  9. There’s no way I’d not say anything! I’d quickly be asking to reread my contract!

    • I’m with you Jennifer.. I’d at least ask if I was expected to teach in the nude… but I guess had Kent asked he would not have discovered that about himself, at least not at that time.. so things happen for a reason.

  10. Dude, Kent, MEGA PROPS TO YOU, BRO! That took balls (um, pun unintended) to do! Very proud of you, and point taken! 😉

  11. I’ve often wondered if there’s a type of yoga that women like me, obese and living with a severe autoimmune disease that is damaging my joints (RA), can do? Well except for nude yoga…I’m definitely gonna end up on the Prude Beach! I give you major snaps though. That took serious . . . well, what Lisa said! 😉

  12. OMG – I’m totally giggling here. And yes, if you could do that you can do anything.

  13. Oh, my! I’m not sure what I would have done in that situation, but kudos to you! I’m sure that most things pale in comparison. Yes, we need to step outside of the box, but I’m not sure I could step out of my clothes to do that.

  14. I. Would. Have. DIED!!!!!!!

  15. Audrey, there is an incredible form of yoga called Restorative yoga that can be done by almost anyone. It uses props like blankets, pillows and straps. It feels wonderful and helps improve flexibility and increases energy. I would be honored to help you in any way I can. Please feel free to contact me at kent@mylifefitness.com

  16. thats hysterical. i didn’t think the instructors had to be naked too

    • No they don’t Melinda, but Kent did not know that when he taught his first class… Things happen for reason. What an empowering experience and as he said, after getting through that you realize you can get through just about anything 😉

  17. Wow!! I would have died, no way I could do that! lol

  18. Sometimes things happen for a reason, and going through this helped you step out of your comfort zone to become a more confident and experienced instructor. Kudos to you, Kent!!

    • I could not agree more Lesha, things do happen for a reason and Kent learned something powerful about himself at a time where he needed that lesson. As a young instructor, getting started it was the perfect boost of self confidence!

  19. I’ve done yoga nude before heading into the shower but I honestly thought I was the only odd ball who’s done it that way. Love that you embraced it and knocked it out like a champ!

    • Doing yoga nude in the privacy of your own home can be an amazing and grounding experience Chelle and I’m thrilled you’ve experienced the beauty of it. Kudos to Kent indeed for teaching in the nude 🙂

  20. Hence the saying “Don’t Knock It Till You’ve Tried It”. That was a great story and point made out of left field. Sounds like it was a life changer and that’s a pretty nice reward for a couple of hours naked on a beach.

  21. How brave of you. I’m not sure I would have been so brave. I think it was a great lesson. We often can’t see our way our of our comfort zone. When we have little to no choice, we are often amazed at what we find out about ourselves.

  22. Thanks for the great laugh-out-loud moment when it was revealed the previous instructors hadn’t gone naked! Really though, Americans tend to have so many hang-ups about nudity.

  23. Fun story, wittily written. Suddenly the skinny dip in the darkness of the backyard pool doesn’t seem quite so daring!

  24. Fantastic Kent. I had a good chuckle, I would have loved to have seen your face when the lady told you that you were the first one to teach the class nude. Very brave – you really made my day.
    Lenie.

  25. Great story! Hilarious at the end! I can’t believe that the teacher remains clothed while the others are not. I applaud you for fitting in and act as if “in Rome.”

  26. Like seriously I can’t try it, no matter how much I’m been paid.

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