Rikki Yeowart, 32, from Brisbane, Qld shares her story with Take 5
Standing on the side of the private villa pool, I slipped off my bikini top, and wriggled out of the bottoms.
I felt the warm air caress my naked body – then I jumped into the water.
“Come on!” I yelled to my cousin Betty, 32, who was still in her swimsuit on dry land.
Moments later, she stripped off and jumped in, too.
“Feels amazing!” she breathed.
It was 2015, and we were in Bali on holiday visiting my mum Michele, 58, who’d lived there for five years.
Since I was little, Mum had taught me to embrace being naked, often walking about nude in front of me.
So, growing up, Betty and I had enjoyed the freedom of swimming naked – and with the warm weather and our very own private villa pool, this trip was the perfect opportunity for it.
But despite being in paradise, something was playing on my mind.
My boyfriend of two-and-a-half years had recently broken up with me and I was absolutely shattered.
As someone who’d always been in relationships, I was learning how to be single.
Previously, I’d been desperate to win him back, so I’d hit the gym, thinking a ‘perfect body’ was the answer.
And although we’d ended up in bed together a few times, my dream of us getting back together hadn’t happened.
Now, despite the beautiful surrounds, I felt down and alone.
That night, my phone pinged with a message from my ex. My heart leapt…
See you in 15 minutes, sexy pants! it read.
I was crushed – the text wasn’t meant for me.
Why was I ruining my holiday by pining for a man who was dating someone else?
I resolved not to waste another second thinking about him and had a ball for the rest of my trip, even having a heart-to-heart with Mum.
“I need to figure out who I am without a man in my life,” I told her.
She was in the same boat.
Having split from her partner, she was struggling.
“I’ve got no self-esteem,” she sighed.
Back home in Brisbane, I decided to do something about it.
I started reading about self-discovery and body-image healing.
Working at Aldi, I saved up and studied reiki, solo tantra and yoga overseas.
Back home, I felt like my life finally had direction.
“I’m feeling so much better, Mum,” I said, in one of our weekly phone calls.
One day in 2018, Betty called me.
“I’ve just done my first ever women’s nude workshop” she said excitedly. “You’ll have to come along next time.”
A women’s nude workshop might sound crazy, but for me, it felt like the perfect way to combine the freedom of getting nude with the healing practice of yoga.
Despite my enthusiasm, I was nervous going to my first class a few weeks later.
Walking into the candlelit studio with its soft music playing, I started to relax.
Then the instructor gave me a hug.
“Go and change into your robes,” she said gently. “Then join us back in the studio.”
I sat in a circle of about 20 women of all different ages, shapes and sizes, and the instructor told us to slip out of our robes whenever we felt ready.
I was the first to disrobe and as soon as I had, it was a domino effect, with robes dropped and naked bodies everywhere.
As we moved through the workshop, and got into downward dog pose, I realised doing this in a circle was crucial for our dignity!
We all looked different, and surely each had our own body hang-ups.
But it felt like it was a safe place to explore our relationships with our naked bodies and learn to love ourselves.
Then, a year later in 2020, I spoke to the instructor, Rosie Rees, who took me, and seven other women, under her wing, and trained us to teach our own classes.
In time, I became a qualified Naked Awakening Facilitator, and loved hosting workshops, encouraging women to embrace all their imperfections.
“I’ve despised my body all my life,” one older woman told me afterwards. “This makes me feel accepted.”
My new career has helped me personally, too.
I no longer need a man or anyone else to validate me – I’ve fallen head over heels in love with myself!
Now, I’m also Queensland Ambassador for Get Naked Australia and run mixed-gender naked cruising and hikes.
For these, we carefully vet every attendee so everyone feels comfortable and safe.
We also make sure there are more women than men at each event.
To avoid offending anyone – not to mention chaffing – we don’t hike in the nude but once we find a secluded spot, we get starkers and enjoy the sunshine.
Of course, factor 50 sunscreen is a must!
These days, Mum and I are so far from the heartbroken women we were in Bali eight years ago.
We’ve learnt to love ourselves no matter what and we want others to feel that, too.
Self-love is a forever journey, especially for women, as our bodies are always shifting.
I’m so grateful for the tools and teachings I gained – it has allowed me to treat my body with compassion.
Now, I’m dedicated to guiding other women through theirs.
For more information, visit rikkiyeowart.com.au