It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m at a yoga for better sex workshop. Alone. I’m pretty sure that makes me a masochist, even though the topic of the evening is pleasure. But I’ll do anything for a good story, and going to a “yoga for better sex” workshop followed by a beginner’s guide to Thai massage seems like a pretty safe bet. New York City-based yoga instructors Shira Atkins and Justin Ritchie hosted the event at 305 Fitness, a local studio. Here, 37 thoughts I had while on my (very lonely) yoga mat:
1. I’m the only single person here. This is going to be interesting…
2. The instructors are talking about how sex shouldn’t be taboo—it should be open and joyful. I agree!
3. Now they’re talking about how similar sex and yoga are. I’m trying to focus, but I’m also thinking about the major boyfriend points all of the men here must be getting right now.
We did some fun partnering assists behind the scenes at our last yoga shoot. New sequences coming soon! pic.twitter.com/0KMHmnbUaG
— SONIMA (@LiveSonima) December 13, 2014
4. I can’t decide if it’s cool and sexy that the room is currently filled with a dim red light…or if that makes this experience even more awkward.
5. The instructors are explaining how sex and yoga “occupy the same space” and are both about using the body for greater pleasure. Makes sense.
6. Now I’m being encouraged to sync up my breath with my partner during sex. I’m intrigued by the idea, but I feel like if I tried it, my boyfriend would ask me why I’m breathing weird.
7. The instructors are explaining how important flexibility—not just of the body, but also of the mind—are in sex. (You know, so you can be open to trying new things.) I stop myself from giggling, but other people in the class don’t.
8. We’re told that merging together “stamina, determination, and power” is important in both yoga and sex. Yoga and sex have so many parallels—we get it. Can we start the routine now?
9. “Activate where necessary, but relax where possible,” says Ritchie. Okay, that’s kind of a cool concept to think about for yoga and sex. I take back my earlier thought about starting the series already.
10. Annnnd now we’re starting!
11. I’m trying to breathe into my lower back, but I’m not really sure I know what that means.
12. Ritchie touches my lower back and says “perfect.” Score!
13. Ritchie tells everyone not to be a hero and to stop worry about doing a pose (or position for that matter) “right”—to do what feels good instead of what we think we’re “supposed” to do. But I still want to know: Am I doing this pose right?
14. “Let the feeling lead you,” says Ritchie. The part of me that falls for cheesy mantras eats this up.
15. The partner poses are beginning. Oh, boy…what is going to happen here?
16. The instructors ask if anyone is on their own. As if going stag weren’t embarrassing enough, I am forced to raise my hand in front of everyone.
17. After demoing the partner stretches, Atkins comes over to my mat and does them with me. While I feel a little uncomfortable getting up-close-and-personal with a complete stranger, the poses also feel good, so I keep telling myself to relax.
18. Ritchie tells everyone to face their partner, hold hands, and—without using any words—thank them. Atkins proceeds to stare deeply into my eyes, and I can’t believe how enthusiastically she’s smiling at me. I can only look at her for a second and smile meekly before looking down at the floor—the eye contact is intense and kind of terrifying.
19. I look back into Atkins’ eyes. Yup, she’s still looking at me.
20. Are we ever going to move on from this? I respect that Atkins is so comfortable with intimacy and am even a little jealous of it, but I’m not there yet.
21. Finally, Ritchie and Atkins say we’re going to move on to the Thai massage portion of the class. They demo the first pair of massage techniques, which involve having one partner on his or her back on the floor and the other partner pressing their palms into their shins and thighs, until they reach the other person’s hip bones. Immediately, I panic at the thought of having Atkins, as sweet as she is, touch me in this way.
22. Atkins heads over to me, and I tell her that I’ll stick around but she doesn’t have to do the massage moves with me. “Are you sure?” she asks. “It feels really good.” Oh, yes, I’m sure.
23. She tells me to let her know if I see anything in particular I want to try. Thanks, but no thanks.
24. I sit on my mat alone while the people around me touch their partners tentatively. They look so uncomfortable.
25. “Keep breathing deep, and keep sending your partner breath,” says one of the instructors. Again, not totally on-board with this sharing breath thing.
26. “Sometimes allowing this kind of receiving as the partner who’s lying down right now can be the hardest part,” says Ritchie. Which is why I’m not doing it right now…
27. There’s so much giggling happening right now.
28. Ritchie comes up to me and asks if I want Atkins to try the massage with me. Nope, I’m good, I assure him.
29. “The more you can put yourself into each touch, the more you can share your intention love list, whatever it is.” That is such a yoga teacher thing to say.
30. The next set of massage tips involve one partner lying on their back while the other massages their shoulders, neck, and scalp. “Yesss,” says one woman. Not going to lie, I’m a little jealous that everyone’s about to receive a head rub—but I’m also not about to invite Atkins back to my mat.
31. “One of the things we hope to convey in tonight’s class is [that] way more than technique, communication is important,” says Ritchie. I assume that my refusal to even trying the massage means I’m failing at the whole openness and communication thing.
32. “Don’t have any judgments about what feels good or not good for them, but instead let the lines of communication open, and keep them open.” In theory, I love this. In practice, again, failing.
33. “Are you comfortable?” someone in the room asks their partner. That’s cute. I’m definitely going to have to treat myself to some frozen yogurt after this.
34. The instructors are totally cuddling at the front of the room. How did it not occur to me until this moment that they’re probably dating?
35. “It’s a tradition in Thai massage for the giver to thank the receiver because of how open you need to be and how vulnerable it is,” says Ritchie. Too vulnerable for me today.
36. Pretty sure those are kissing sounds happening around me. WHY DID I COME TO THIS ALONE?
37. Annnd that’s a wrap! I love how open and honest about sex Ritchie and Atkins are, but I’m not sure I’m on their level. Oh, well. Frozen yogurt, here I come!
All GIFs courtesy of giphy.com.