27 October 2008

Ballz to the Wall: Naked Yoga

To answer your first three questions:
Yes, I did it.
Yes, it was men only.
Yes, they were all gay.

There are two independent video stores in my neighborhood. At one of those stores you have to be 18 to enter, you can purchase poppers at the counter, and they have great section titles like, "My Drug Hell," where you will find movies like I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can. It is a queer-owned store. The other store always has little varmits (kids) scampering about, you can buy candy at the counter, and they have an extensive foreign language section called "Foreign Languages." This store also has cheaper rentals, more films, and is owned by a lovely straight couple. Both stores often carry the same inventory but I go to my pricier gay store first because if I have a choice, I want my money going back into homo pockets. I just do. So when my therapist, my boss, and my mother were simultaneously touting the wonders of yoga for its emotional and physical benefits, I set out to find a queer-owned or affiliated yoga studio.

Seconds into my search I was distracted by a website called Naked Yoga. Having to certify both my 18+ age and non-offense at viewing nudity/adult content had me thinking I was about to click my way onto a fetish site where I would see photos of men in poses like "Downward Doggy Style" and "Hand-job Stand." Alas, I came to the Los Angeles main page (there are other chapters in San Diego and New York City) where I was greeted with this explanation: Naked Yoga is a private club for men who like to practice yoga without the restriction of clothing.

After certifying my 18+ status for a second time, I found the answer to all my questions under "Why Naked Yoga?," which exposes the "lost art of homosensuality" (true, I can't remember the last time I was homosensual). The author says homosensuality can be achieved simply by being naked in the presence of another man without even touching. Instead of solely using sex to do this, the author sought out local gay nudist groups but found himself disappointed because their membership seemed to be dominated by "older and out-of-shape guys." That's shitty. I thought he just wanted to be naked with some dudes, now he's getting all finicky? Still, I pressed on to make a reservation for the next class, but because this is a private club, I had to apply for membership.

Having to answer a litany of questions regarding my physical appearance and exercise regimen, I was then asked to provide my Body Mass Index (BMI) because it said only men with a BMI under 27 were admitted to the club. I clicked the provided link to the Center for Disease Control's BMI calculator, entered my height and weight, crossed my fingers and, voila, my BMI came in at 22.3. Thank you God and mom for that low-carb, low-sugar, low-taste diet growing up. The membership requirements reiterated their theory that fat men "can slow the pace of the class [making] partnering difficult." Shitty again. Why not be real and just say that hot guys get pissed when they have to partner up with a fatty?

I arrived 15 minutes early to the small West Hollywood pilates studio that rents out space to Naked Yoga. Waiting outside with my other classmates, the first thing I noticed was that many of them had a lot of body mass going on. How did they get past the stringent gatekeepers? My $20 entry fee (about four dollars more than a single class at a pricey yoga studio) was collected from a man who turned out to be the gatekeeper himself. He was pretty handsome, save for an unfortunate shade of teeth which made me think perhaps he had had a bout with meth or was a smoker.

We went upstairs into a mirrored studio and my classmates started disrobing like they were on fire. Stop, drop, and roll, bitches. Take a pause for the cause, we're in a fucking yoga class. I took my moment to set my purse in the corner (no, I did not mean to say "murse" and I don't think that's cute), laid out my mat, making sure I got a spot with nobody in front of me 'cause I didn't want to be staring at unregulated ass for the next 90 minutes especially in forward fold. I calmly removed my shirt, setting an example for my over-eager classmates. I pulled my jersey shorts and underwear down, stepped out of them, and daintily tossed them atop my purse for added security.

I felt surprisingly comfortable and frankly, really good about myself as I inspected my nude figure in the mirror. I rarely examine my naked body but here I had no choice. It was either mirror or asses. As the youngest one in the room by some 15 years and a BMI of 22.3 (don't forget that, y'all), I looked slammin'--especially next to Father Time with the titties next to me. [As an aside and for the record: I am not ageist. I revere my elders and when I'm old, lord knows I'm either gonna be a rough lookin' tranny or some broke-down queen or both.]

Our instructor, who I'll call "Darren," walked around in his boxer briefs introducing himself to each of us in an un-sexy Long Island accent. He appeared to be in his late-forties with a kind and handsome yet weathered face, full head of gray hair, leather tan, and super-toned body. When everyone was naked and waiting on their yoga mats, Darren took position in the front of the room and removed his boxer briefs to reveal the largest flaccid member I have ever seen in my life, ever. Ever.

But really, ever. The dick alone had a BMI of 30.

Darren began the class, not with some thoughtful words of inspiration but by asking if there were any Scorpios in the house. Really? Am I watching a tacky Vegas lounge act or am I in yoga class? He proceeded to give a full astrological report telling us which signs we should date and how Mercury was in retrograde and some other shit I ignored. His voice was soothing but in an Alan Thicke, game-show host kind of way. In fact, now that I think about it, he had a whole Alan Thicke vibe going on. He should work that. Darren walked over to the stereo to turn on his iPod and screeching, piercing feedback erupted from the speakers. After we removed our hands from our ears some funky techno house beat came on and it was the fucking song from that Geico caveman commercial.

The class itself was just as challenging as any yoga class I have taken but the instruction was mediocre. Everyone's nudity mostly faded into the background except for a few times like when the man next to me demonstrated a plow pose on his back with his ankles by his ears. Also when Darren came behind me in a stretch and pressed his body against my back to deepen my pose. Put a rubber on before that thing brushes up against my ass and gives me something. Scary ass monster dick. By the end of class, I was sweating everywhere, sliding all over my mat, stinking the place up. I had recently given up deodorant containing aluminum chlorohydrate for a useless deodorant crystal and I was diggin' my stank! Feeling natural. Feeling homosensual.

When our naked odyssey finally came to an end 90 minutes later, I was exhausted and pleased that I had made it through the class. I jumped back into the safety of my clothes, grabbed my purse, and thanked Darren and his dick. Returning to my Honda Civic Hybrid (I've gone green), I glanced at my flushed face in the rear-view mirror reflecting upon this daring adventure to be naked amongst other gay men--all of us sweating, breathing heavily, and not one erection in sight (though the website assured me erections in class were fine and perfectly natural). Homosensuality, for me, exists in the brotherhood of being in your rawest, most vulnerable form with other gay men of all backgrounds. We share a rich cultural history that is mired in shame but rich with creativity and fortitude. This was a chance to celebrate that.



Sarah T. said...

Oh my god! This was hilarious! I love it! Keep 'em coming. (so to speak)

My fave:

"Darren took position in the front of the room and removed his boxer briefs to reveal the largest flaccid member I have ever seen in my life, ever. Ever.

But really, ever."

Kate said...

Oh Matt, so many of these lines are my favorite. Genius entry. Are you going to go back?

LavenderGreen said...

Careful. I know someone who instructs naked yoga in SF and his name is actually Darren.

Wonderful exposé.

I liked the black background. Why did you switch to gray?

lala said...

Thanks for the early/mid morning laugh-out-loud to start out another long Friday

Anonymous said...

amazing, matt. thank you!