“We ache to touch intimately what is real, to find the marriage of meaning and matter in our lives and in the world. We ache to feel and express the fire of being fully alive. When we cultivate and refuse to separate those essential expressions of a human soul – our spirituality, sexuality and creativity – we feed the fire of our being and find that place where the soul and sensuous meet, we unfold.” ~Anonymous
When was the last time you felt completely, wildly, unapologetically free in your body? When was the last time you danced like no one was watching? My most recent encounter with feeling fully awake in my body happened by surprise this fall and wound up involving sexy props, fishnet stockings and the soundtrack from the film Burlesque! Consequently, I found myself experiencing a new wave of motivation, inspiration and direction in my life. Funny what unfolds when the mind and body unite in unexpected ways. Let me explain.
Like many of you, I am a wife and working mother. I spend much of the week keeping up with household chores, my daughter’s activities, feeding my family, finding time to exercise and, if I’m lucky, maybe even some quality time with my husband. For the most part, I really enjoy my life and find it fulfilling. I expend much of my precious energy keeping things running smoothly which yields a comforting sense of routine, predictability and security. And then inevitably at some point I will find myself run down, irritable or stuck in a mental rut. The yoga teacher and healer in me knows that at this point, I have either depleted my resources or energy has become stuck somewhere in my mental, physical, emotional body. It is time for change, for something to be released, for a shift of consciousness or perspective.
My habitual way of restoring balance and energy is to recommit to my yoga practice, receive a massage and process with a girlfriend. However, inherent in this approach is that same thread of predictability and control. I keep learning and relearning that my health and happiness is not just about moving toward balance.
An essential aspect of our well-being and fulfillment is about being stretched out of that comfort zone of predictability. We must continually seek experiences that force us to consider ourselves in ways we never have before. We need to stay creative in the ways we take care of ourselves. Often such creativity is birthed in unexpected ways and we simply need to stay open and receptive to them. My latest creative endeavor has to do with unleashing my sense of sexuality in a completely new and unexpected way.
My day job is that of a holistic nutrition coach. While working with a client recently I suggested we take a local dance class together to reignite a sense of fun around exercise. Our intention had been Zumba but our schedules only aligned so that we could attend a cabaret burlesque class offered at the same studio. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into and for some unknown reason that first night I automatically registered for a whole 7-week series without having yet taken a class. Something in me knew I needed this.
The first several minutes of class were awkward, like being at a party where you don’t know anyone and wishing you could order a drink to break the ice. Soon our instructor, a French woman named Béa, clad in a leather vest with a lacy bra peeking out through the top, started leading us through seductive hip circles, body waves and head tosses from side to side. All I could seem to notice was how tightly wound and self-conscious I was surrounded by so many mirrors.
Wearing glasses, no make-up, and long undone hair, Béa, a mother of two, effortlessly exudes sensuality and confidence in her body. She watches herself in the mirror intently when dancing, like she is in awe of herself. She cues, “don’t be afraid to touch yourself, ladies” as we glide our hands down our thighs and she teaches us how to unbutton our top layer a-rhythmically as to build suspense.
We are a class of women of all shapes, sizes and ages. I immediately loved that none of those things mattered. Any insecurity or inhibition I was feeling was completely self-imposed. I realized that the phrase, “dance like no one is watching” is actually the easy way out. Here I had to learn how to dance, confidently and sexy in front of other women and the only way to do that and not look like a complete idiot was to really feel it from the inside out. I had to get over myself and genuinely open up to exploring my body, the way it moved and the energy behind it without being so preoccupied with how I looked or what someone else was doing.
It wasn’t only a physical release I started to experience but a surge of creativity that became channeled through my whole body. Through a process of creative movement, I was releasing sacral energy that had been unconsciously stuck for who knows how long. By the end of each class, my client and I both reported feeling a natural high. I felt sexy. I was inhabiting my body in a totally new way. The wonderful twist to this burlesque class was that we were not necessarily dancing to entertain and excite a group of onlookers but rather we were dancing and learning how to be turned on to ourselves. And not necessarily in a sexual way but I also I found myself being turned back on to my life and who I am in this particular moment of it.
Upon reflection, the connection between sexuality and creativity is obvious. Through the lens of yoga and the chakra system my experience can be understood as a release of my second (or sacral) chakra. Essentially, there are seven chakras or “wheels of concentrated energy” that align themselves along the length of the spine. Each chakra has a different vibration and corresponds to different areas of our body, organ systems, and emotions. When the energy centers are out of balance the Life Force is compromised and we can feel tired, irritable, depressed or anxious. The second chakra resides below the navel. It relates to our reproductive organs and holds our basic needs for sexuality, creativity, intuition, and self-worth.
As a holistic health coach, my job is to help connect the dots as to how the many various aspects of our lives (diet, work, relationships, body image, stress, spirituality, etc.) are related and inherently affect one another. Female sexuality is a loaded, complex topic and one that warrants much more attention in our culture. My experience with the burlesque class has been wildly fun and liberating. It gently pushed me out of my own comfort zone and, by igniting a new found passion within my body it helped me get turned back on to my business and my life.
Being turned on is by no means an exclusively sexual act. It’s about rediscovering what stirs you at your core and creating a channel for that energy to flow and manifest. However, I admit that a little sexiness can go a long way.