We’re taught from a certain age that being naked is bad. As babies, we crawl about the house nearly or fully nude, but as we get older, we learn that there are certain times and places that clothes are necessary. After a certain age, it’s no longer cute to be naked all the time. Rather, it’s seen as a social faux pas.
Of course, it’s understandable that we’re clothed in social settings – at school, at work, at the doctor’s office – because of a certain level of respect for others (not everyone wants to see you naked), but there are times – many, in fact – where nudity should not only be accepted, but encouraged.
The ones I want to talk about today are yoga and meditation. Let me be clear, I don’t recommend going to a public yoga or meditation class and stripping down – I mean in the privacy of your own home (because, again, we need to respect other people).
I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation naked for years now. At first, it wasn’t a conscious decision. In the warmer months, I don’t wear PJs (because who wants to deal with that extra fabric when it’s 30 degrees outside), so I’d wake up, meditate, and stretch a little before getting dressed and ready for the day. I was already naked – why get dressed before doing these things?
Then I started to think about it. Practicing yoga and meditation naked was giving me more benefits than if I’d done it clothed. Of course, there’s the physical freedom, not having to deal with twisting clothes and stiff or scratchy fabrics, but there’s also an emotional freedom to the practice as well.
When you practice yoga or meditation naked, you’re developing a deep connection with your natural self. You see yourself clearly, all the curves and bumps, and you begin to accept it. While you’re strengthening your mind, you’re also strengthening your love for your body, something a lot of us need to work on, given the continual issues North America has with body image and beauty standards.
When I was younger, I had a terrible relationship with my body, despite being tiny. In fact, I hated it. In summer I made excuses not to go swimming, and refused to wear shorts. I wore men’s clothing, and wouldn’t even look at myself in a mirror. I’d do anything to keep my body away from anyone’s gaze – myself included.
I didn’t take care of my body. From ten onward, I struggled with body image issues, thinking of myself as “fat” despite being smaller than nearly everyone I knew. At 18 I developed severe anorexia (a story for another time). At 19 I pushed back against it with vehemence, and since then, I’ve fought tooth and nail to dismantle all the negative beliefs I have about what bodies are supposed to look like.
And, disclaimer, even though I’m a small person, I still struggle with body image issues some days. Size is not an indicator of how you’ll view your body – it’s about mental and environmental factors, as well as being rooted in past traumas.
Fighting against disordered thoughts for the better part of your life is exhausting, and you don’t always win. But doing yoga and meditation naked – appreciating my body in its most natural form, while forging a deeper connection with my spirit – has certainly helped.
Now, I try to connect with my natural body (aka get naked) whenever I can. Aside from having a ton of health benefits – such as better sleep, creating healthier skin, and increasing confidence – connecting with your body helps improve the relationship you have with yourself.
If you’re new to this, you don’t have to start with an hour long yoga session in the nude – it can be daunting if you aren’t used to your body, or aren’t ready to see yourself naked for more than a few minutes. And it’s especially challenging, when, like me, you’ve struggled with body image issues for most of your life.
Start with something small, like a five minute meditation. Notice how it feels to sit naked – the lack of fabric, the air on your skin. Afterward, perhaps write down how it made you feel. It’s okay to feel strange at first, like you’re doing something wrong. We’ve been taught to dislike our bodies, to cover them up and hide them away.
Really, what I want you to take away from this article is this: learn to be comfortable with and love your body, accepting it for what it is. There’s nothing better you can do for yourself.