Women’s sexuality and the body. These are aspects of being that speak to my core. For me, I feel the most alive through movement, dance, flow- movement that combines the mental and emotional with the physical. This is true for me with yoga — the deep combination of breath and postures-as well as with NIA– a blend of nine movement forms that is at once aerobic and expressive.
I felt intrigued, therefore, when I learned of a form of body movement that encouraged sexual flow and feminine power. I reached out to one local purveyor of pole movement, Serena Hicks of Bon Bon Barre to learn more about her journey and to know what this format could offer me. I met Serena one hot, humid Texas afternoon at a nearby Starbucks and the conversation quickly moved from surface to the depth of presence that feels like authenticity to me. We talked about the power of movement, and in particular, I asked more about the how Serena’s classes could embolden and inspire brazenness.
The interview started in a straightforward interviewer-interviewee way — What is pole fitness about? What is Warrior Goddess Training?
From the traditional format of interviewer-interviewee, the conversation fluidly moved into a deeper conversation about what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a sexual being – a woman with awakened sensual presence – and how is this possible when enculturated into a world that doesn’t always know how to embrace and uplift this aspect of womanhood?
I shared my journey growing up in an orthodox Jewish home and the sexual repression laden within this culture, and how this energy can then spew out in inappropriate ways (think incest, power plays, etc.) as opposed to being acknowledged, valued and understood appropriately. We each shared about our journeys and the movement taken to reclaim our authentic presence. By the end of the conversation, there was a rawness in our ability to be seen, to discuss body awareness, orgasm, and allowing the power and force of true sensuality to awaken. I had the opportunity to experience a conversation that explored the depth of this yearning to express full womanhood with another sister on the path.
This feeling of being raw, seen and open is in direct counterpoint to how I began my life- with rigid rules around sexuality- don’t talk about it, don’t think about it, and that sex is only sanctified behind closed doors, between a husband and wife- and probably only with certain positions and acceptable responses!
As a culture we are being coached in the need for vulnerability through Brené Brown and others. This vulnerability- of sharing about orgasm, loving partners and the desire to express our own unique feminine power — is key. We are learning to wash away the endless channels of “shoulds” and “should nots” that block the true core of feminine power and sexuality. This is the path that, while not necessarily comfortable or well-trodden, speaks to me of true healing and strength. I experience this as I dance and explore the body through movement, for I then move past the need to look a certain way, to be approved or understood. I embark on the sacred journey of Presence.
And let’s face it- orgasmic living is not “pretty” It is real, vulnerable and raw- and this is what my heart calls for.
To further understand Serena’s work, and the power of it, I was invited to attend a pole movement class offered the following week. The opportunity to explore a world of safe expression, solely populated by other women similarly seeking their own expression, intrigued me. I felt some trepidation- entering the scandalous and risqué world of pole — what would this be like? Should I tell anyone? Or keep this close to the vest?
I showed up the following Thursday evening to the upstairs aerial yoga studio and Serena held to her commitment of creating a safe and non-judgmental space through covering the mirrors (“it’s how you feel, not how you look”) and then invited us all to check in briefly about who we are, and what we were currently exploring within our lives. So far so good- I felt safe.
From there we moved to sensual movements to wake up the nerves, muscles and tendons- and I will just say- for those of you who have not explored “sexy push-ups” — they are called sexy for a reason! I not only got a physical workout with these, but wow, did I feel yummy, gooey- and sexy — from the inside out.
Another exercise invited us to slowly and tenderly touch our bodies, all parts (we’re clothed, y’all — nothing too spooky about this, however I was definitely NOT in my comfort zone). The yumminess of acknowledging the innate beauty and loveliness of my body was in contrast to earlier life teachings — to “look good” versus explore what pleasure feels like for me. The discomfort, however, gently moved to self-acceptance, as I touched my skin, my arm, my neck, my back.
We then moved on to muscle strengthening exercises so we would be warmed up and ready for pole explorations. These explorations felt exotic, rich- and risqué. I was exploring at the edge of my comfort zone, which of course is where all the growth is.
Even as a beginner, I had the chance to take a turn at the pole. My short turn was celebrated with warm encouragement and applause. The few newbies each showed their skill at the pole briefly (each followed by supportive cheers), and then the more experienced of the group individually danced through a song of their choosing, expressing through the use of the poles erotic, sensual and radiant expressions. The pure safety in the class- where the whole circle of women held a safe space for each of her sisters to express their guttural, sensual prowess, was a unique and moving experience. While the movements were unique for each woman, the overarching invitation was to express without a need to please or seem rational. This was held by the group without judgement and encouraged an intimacy of heart. By the end of the evening, I saw the glittering of vulnerable pleasure within each face.
How often in our daily work/life world, we put on a front, a face, and what power there is in having the time and encouragement to shift from the mask and share the raw vulnerability beneath? How empowering to show the depth of expression and be acknowledged, held and celebrated in this process.
The next day, as I dressed with a flourish, I still felt the afterglow of the class, with a greater freedom in my hips, my body, my skin. I felt the tingling sensation of having touched my own skin with kindness. I felt a sense of my own power more solidly, and acknowledged.
Gone are the days when we as a society can brush our sexuality under a rug — we have seen the damage this does to our own self-esteem (endless diets, self-criticism, hyper control), to relationships (sexuality expressed only through the body, without heart and mind integration — i.e. porn).
As women, I wonder if, as we embrace our full bodied sensual and sexual expression- does this make us more alive?
As we are led away from the question of “Is sex right or wrong?” or “ Is there one correct way to express sexuality?” We can return to the way that we experienced the world as youth- pure, innocent, open, welcoming and ECSTATIC.
Ghandi has said “Be the change you want to see in the world” As women, are we truly free if our core power and sexuality is still hidden behind images that are steeped in male dominance such as looking like a nubile adolescent, being compliant wives, or taking on the safe “mother” figure role as our main persona?
Is there more that we can embody? How can we explore the depths of our desire for expression and fulfillment? As Western women, we have made so many strides in our ability to own our power in the world — in the workforce, in property ownership, and in our businesses. We are providing a world for our daughters, and sons, that is richer and more robust than we have seen to date. Yet are we fully fulfilled in our personal, interpersonal and sexual experiences?
Classes like pole movement, ecstatic dance and others provide a path and offer safe and achievable milestones that remind us we are not alone in our explorations. They provide the space for us to look squarely at our own inner resistances — our fears and excitements- in a safe cocoon of acceptance by others. We learn to ask for what we want, to embrace our feminine power and wisdom, and to delight in the sensual gifts that make our lives richer, more vulnerable and infinitely more fulfilling.
Are you ready to explore…with me and your fellow sisters? I DARE YOU! As you do, know that, as one sacred woman to another — I see you. I hold you in the vision of your own magnificence. Let’s rock this world together, brave sister. Together, we can embody love, heal and clear the path to passionate, whole being, intimate, ecstatic life — for our own health and the health of our loved ones, this planet, and all life.
Worth it? Absolutely!
Originally published at medium.com