Sex and Yoga

Updated: Sep 1, 2019


Well I have your attention now, don’t I? 


Sex sells, let’s admit it. We have already been told this many times. With all the recent movements that have been happening (#metoo, etc) I have to say that it is a confusing time for someone who enjoys sex as much as I do, and perhaps, for you as well. Growing up in this patriarchal society has caused me to definitely have to break through some major social and mental conditioning. There are so many layers of this human onion that I have had and continue to peel through.


Recently, I held a “Yoga, Ayurveda, and Tantra” workshop with a dear friend and teacher of mine. The workshop was well received and it felt very easeful to work alongside her.  I was honored and humbled to work with her as an equal, as she is someone that I revere deeply as one of my root/main/core teachers. The following day, after the workshop, she called me to bring something to my attention. She began to comment, however in the most loving way, on what I had decided to wear to the event. She explained to me that in class my breasts were spilling out of my top and that people could take this the wrong way depending on their samskaras (societal beliefs/conditioning).  I immediately understood what she meant, but it triggered a realization that their were so many layers within me that were about to be unearthed and revealed. 


To begin, let me describe the conditions that shaped me through my youth and formative years. I grew up in America where everything was and still is oversexualized. I listened to everything from Motley Crue to Too $hort, songs like “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “gotta get some p#$#y, man f*&% this S*&t” were lyrics that I sang along to, just to name a few. In Junior Highschool, when we graduated, the students gave the graduating class faux awards for what they were most likely to be when they grew up. I was awarded Centerfold Cindy. 


My mother was not very present with me growing up, and spent a lot of time at her boyfriend’s… place, so the school parties were almost always at my house. In highschool, I had probably some of the best sex/intimacy of my life with my highschool sweetheart. We were wild and adventurous. During this time, I moved in with my father and step-mother who were ultra conservative. My father’s main reaction to me was: “You’re going to go out of the house looking like that?” My older sister would introduce me to her friends as her sister with the big boobs. While doing competitive dancing, we were required to take ballet to practice our technique. I began dancing in the 7th grade, and by then I had already begun developing my large breasts. With those came a little belly that my ballet teacher would comment on, which in turn created a sense of body obsession and dis-morphia to where I thought that I was fat.  I dieted and worked out like crazy because I had a fat phobia, which was also being projected onto me by my father. On the other hand, my jazz dance teacher supported my figure by encouraging me to go to Vegas and become a show girl.  


At some point, my highschool sweetheart and I broke up. He was an alcoholic and an addict of all kinds. He expressed wanting to get married, but after cheating on me several times, I was over it. I vividly remember one day, while watching Michael Jordan play basketball on TV, voicing out loud how good looking I thought he was. My father then voiced back to me, “if you ever bring me home a black boy…”  and didn’t finish the sentence. So of course, you can guess who my next boyfriend was… a beautiful “black boy”. My father was concerned with how “difficult” it would be for me to be in an inter-racial relationship. We were together for a couple years, and moved to San Diego together, where I had decided to go to college, but succeeded at going the beach instead. I taught aerobics and dance and did child care for a living but that was the extent of my job expertise. I was lost, and had no idea who I truly was. I drank, I smoked pot every day, and smoke cigarettes like a fiend. I broke up with my boyfriend because unconsciously I didn’t want to disappoint my father, in addition to feeling judged by society for all of the stares that we would get when out in public together.  

One day my friend and I were looking through the ads in the newspaper and we saw one for a bikini contest.  We decided to check it out, and when we arrived at the place, we noticed that it was a nude strip club. My initial reaction was somewhere between mortified and intrigued. I hated myself, I hated my body. I was 90 pounds with big tits and I thought I was fat. I was 19 and fucked up and needed to make money fast. I ended up tying for first place and the boss offered me a job. He stated that I didn’t have to take my clothes off and that I could just dance around in a bikini. I proceeded to take the job. Within two weeks, I started to feel liberated...I stripped down completely. I was making $1000 per night, driving to Vegas for work trips, opening up strip clubs in Hollywood where Nikki Six, Tommy Lee and Slash all came into. There was a self-fulfilling prophecy happening before my own eyes. Centerfold Cindy was well on her way. With this came a lot of toxic sexual attention, as you can imagine. I had stalkers, my father found out what I was doing, and again I felt that I was disappointing him. 


I began dating one of the guys who would hang out with all of us dancers. There was a group of punk rockers that were in cahoots with all of us dancers. They were rowdy and rough and would protect us- in a sense, to the extreme that when I had a client stiff me for a lap dance, they beat him up so badly that he ended up in the hospital. Things began to turn very dark. I had other dancers stealing from me, trying to beat me up. Although I had dabbled in hard drugs a bit, I felt I had a pretty good grasp on not being an addict. I ended up getting pregnant with my then boyfriend and wanted to keep the baby, but my father talked me out of it. I started to nose dive, my not knowing who I was, and plummeted into a severe depression. I thankfully had saved enough money and had the wits about me that I knew I could not be in this profession for much longer and began transitioning to cosmetology school. I moved back to the Bay Area and started my life over again. Within that time, I felt that I had liberated myself, but was still walking around with a deep shame. I had used/was using my body for money. Everywhere that I would go, I would notice guys gawking at me and it started to make me feel angry and scared. What did I have to do, dress like a fucking nun?


I began practicing yoga when I was around 19 or 20 within the same time that I was erotic dancing. I remember a feeling and sense of coming home, when I closed my eyes, there was nothing to judge, nothing to critique, just me and my sweet, scared lost self. I was trying to stuff down my grief with chain smoking, and in turn unconsciously was trying to kill myself. I recall reading my first spiritual book “Conversations with God.” The one line that popped out at me was “everytime you take a drag of a cigarette, you are saying to yourself, I don’t want to live.” That really struck a chord within me and from then on, every time I picked up a cigarette, I realized that I couldn’t smoke anymore. What I replaced it with was one of those natural nose inhalers, as I knew instinctively that I just needed to take a big breath. 


Fast forward to moving back to the bay and out of cosmetology school, I was hired at a prestigious hair salon that I apprenticed at for 2 ½ years before I was able to work on clients called Cowboys and Angels….A.K.A. Cowboys and Junkies. It was one debaucherous, hedonistic and dysfunctional family, but we sure had a lot of fun. I cut all of my hair off and became a real feminist, almost to the point where I was completely fed up with men. I ended up being invited into a foursome with a co-worker/friend, her girlfriend and Joan Jett.  I thought it would be harmless, but it ended up opening doors into where I was becoming their toy, but then the girlfriend and I ended up having an affair and my co-worker found us together. I fell deeply in love with a woman. I moved to the Castro and remember when my Dad was helping me move and he saw all the gay flags around the neighborhood. He asked me, “what are all of these queer flags around for? Well hopefully you find a husband soon, and preferably one of the opposite sex.” Again, I felt that I was disappointing my father. 


I then began to date another rock star… because I was terrified to disappoint my first and truest love, who was my father.  Not that I could actually bring my junkie boyfriend home, but at least he was “a man”, well sort of... He had that andogynous look to him...to me he was a cross between Iggy Pop and Keith Richards. 

I suppose I am writing all this because as of lately, I have begun to feel lost again. When yoga had actually helped me to love and embrace my body, when my root/main/core yoga teacher would make stripper jokes in class, I actually was able to release a lot of the shame around my experience with erotic dancing, and I learned how to create better boundaries of who I would let enter into my energetic and physical field. I also now realize that I have and am still using my body to gain attention. We see on Instagram and Facebook that those yoga superstars who get the most likes are the ones who are barely dressed, writhing around like- well, erotic dancers. When your livelihood depends on your number of likes…Have you sold out? Objectified yourself? I have somewhat fallen into this trap. Although when I teach, I teach from a pure intention and from my heart and don’t want to extend or create any shame around sexuality, because we are sexual creatures, and how else would we have gotten here? I however now notice that I keep attracting men into my life that want me just for sex, and aren’t willing to stick around to actually get to know me, all of me, my light and my shadow. It’s this darker side of sexuality that I do enjoy, but that is made out to be taboo and inevitably makes me feel depleted and empty after engaging in/with. What I ask and wonder is, how can I/we celebrate my/our sexuality while in sweet union with a lover? Where that veil of separation is completely gone…where we are seeing each other through our sexy times and also through our mundane-ever-so-human times? As I finish writing this, I am now signing up for an eroctic pole dance class, not so that I can work again in this industry-although the lucrative income is tempting. I know what I do now for (work) is not for money but it actually feeds my soul. Where do you compromise yourself for money? How can we all live from a place that completely lights ourselves up? Sometimes we are just going through the motions, living these samskaras out and not even aware that we are reinforcing them. The practice of yoga lights a fire so that we can burn through these samskaras and live from a truer place. What we need to do is slow down enough so that we can witness our actions, and a beautiful way to do that is to go on retreat. It gives you the opportunity to step outside of your life and to truly asses, what is toxic, what you’re willing to let go, and what you wish to create for your life.

I believe when we live our souls purpose then we will find liberation. I invite you to do the same! 


With all my heart

Erika


Proudly Designed by Nicacelly Projects for Erika Van Gemeren Yoga (c) 2019

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