By Ashley Lodato
In other towns, while you’re waiting for a yoga class to begin it’s all dim light, incense, rhythmic stress-relief music and hushed tones. If you unroll your mat with too loud of a thwap, the woman next to you lying in Supta Virasana opens a single eye to glare at you. You acknowledge no one. You are at this class for one purpose only: to practice the solitary and ancient mental, physical and spiritual discipline of yoga.
But not at my local yoga studio, where the refreshing process of catching up with friends and acquaintances from the comforting position of Ananda Balasana is as rejuvenating an activity as the yoga session that follows.
My favorite local class is a dynamic group of women and one token male, who is a prominent valley resident. (In my first draft I referred to this fellow yogi as “an upstanding male member” of our community, but then my keen editorial instincts and eagle eye for double entendre kicked in.)
Anyhoo, last week the 10 of us were sitting on our mats, stretching and waiting for class to begin. And as was our wont, we chatted, trading stories from our day, bemoaning our sore muscles, and generally gabbing about things that were at best only tangentially connected to the yogic journey we were about to embark on.
One conversation thread led us to the subject of different types of yoga. “Did you know there is goat yoga?” someone asked. “And karaoke yoga!” added another. A third woman said “Apparently there is naked yoga!” We all paused, briefly, to contemplate that image for a while, and then uniformly agreed that naked yoga could only lead to seeing things that could not be unseen. This, of course, inspired a lively discussion about what other types of naked activities we wouldn’t participate in. Unsurprisingly, the list is fairly long.
Someone suggested that it’s easier to list the things you would do naked, as opposed to cataloging the many things you wouldn’t. This mutually-agreed-upon list of about four items included showering, taking a bath and skinny dipping (duh). There is one more obvious inclusion, but this is a family-friendly column and I am, as you will remember from above, in possession of a well-honed propriety filter.
Then from her contemplative position in Padmasana one woman paused her Ujjayi breathing to announce, “I definitely wouldn’t cook bacon naked.”
“Again,” she added for clarification — in case we were thinking her unimaginative for vetoing naked bacon cooking without even trying it. “I learned that lesson the hard way,” she continued, making a gesture that indicated hot spitting grease.
We could all picture it.
The following week, the reformed bacon cooker informed us that she had been inspired to acquire one of those mesh splatter screens for her frying pan, thus rendering naked bacon cooking a newly safe option in her household.
And so it came to pass — as it has done for thousands of years — that the practice of yoga led an individual to greater enlightenment and understanding.