** Photos by Studio Stiina
I came into last weekends Bodysex retreat in a super vulnerable state. The past 10 months of my life have been extremely difficult — supporting my son through a loss and learning to navigate parenting my children without another co-parent. The night before the retreat I woke up suddenly — feeling afraid and exposed — worried that my children could somehow get hurt by my work. A memory came flooding in from this summer when I was called a whore — because of the work I do — and I wondered if my continued exposure would just give him more reason to do so. I can laugh it off most of the time but sometimes, when I’m feeling especially vulnerable, it scares me. My work requires an openness that I welcome and yet sometimes, when I’m not feeling safe, it can also make me feel too exposed.
After Justine and I set up the circle in preparation for the women to arrive, I laid down naked in it and masturbated while she talked to me. Touching my body grounds me — like I’m entering into the safest, most comforting home — and doing so while seeing and hearing my loving sister and friend — was exactly what I needed. After orgasming a couple of times, I heard the first of the women arrive and went to greet them feeling relaxed and affirmed that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
From the moment of the first naked hugs to our goodbyes on the last day, the workshop flowed with the most exceptional ease. So much so that even while holding space for the other women, I felt like I was on a retreat! Never have I felt so comfortable being so naked, so open with my heart, my legs and the full expression of who I am. “This is SO much bigger than the 8 of us in this circle” said one of the women, holding her arms up in the air. Looking around the circle at the other women embodying their stories of joy, sorrow, pleasure and pain, it was easy to see she was right.
The 8 of us spent almost the entire weekend, in and out of workshop time, as one solid group flowing between sharing through our words and sharing through our bodies. No part of it felt forced or held back — it all just seemed so perfectly normal.
Through conversations in the nude about life, love, longings, loss, dirty fantasies, amazing sex, forbidden sex, bodily functions, needs, desires and never convincing anyone of our worth again— we laughed and we cried accepting each other as we are.
I always enter Bodysex weekends with the intention of removing armour that still delicately covers inner layers of my shame. I came away from this weekend though, feeling fully embodied in who I am right now — without feeling such a need to do something about it to make it different or better. Body sex gives me permission to boldly be who I am and helps me be less afraid when that doesn’t fit into societies standards for me. I was reminded in the eyes of each of the women that it’s okay that I feel better open than closed, that my path to self awareness, ecstasy, and self confidence begins at the soft spot right between my legs and that there is nothing wrong at all with thoroughly and ecstatically enjoying sex and pleasure with myself. Body sex gives me the freedom to be me. If that makes me a whore, I’ll take it.
Thank you to my dear sisters for meeting me so fully in the circle and reminding me that I’m okay being me.
I love you Turtle, Singh, Wizard, Ruby, Iridescent, Niko, Belle and Kitty <3
Bodysex is a transformative and undefinable experience for women, of all ages and sexual orientations, interested in the empowering freedom that comes from shedding the masks, roles and clothing that we hide behind everyday. The workshop is done in the nude yet it’s non sexual. It’s about raising consciousness, creating sisterhood, integrating body shame and celebrating pleasure.
Bodysex Quebec Workshop/Retreat will be held May 2-3 2020, at a private home in Drummondville, east of Montreal. It’s the perfect place to relax, let go and just be. These retreats have a “slumber party” feel to them with catered meals and snacks provided. During down time you may visit with the other women, spend time alone, journal, read or just BE.
The two day workshop will include:
- Sacred circle where, in first person, we share how we feel about our bodies and our orgasms. This is the time to share any shame that has been holding us back from fully celebrating our pleasure. Through this, the roots of sisterhood will begin forming as we accept each other for who are. No more and no less.
- Group genital show and tell. This is a powerful ceremony where we display our vulva one at a time in front of a mirror, identify all of the parts of our sexual anatomy and recognize the beauty and diversity amongst us. Understanding of our sexual anatomy is the foundation of sexual pleasure.
- Learning methods to enhance our orgasms and our self loving practice. How breath, movement, sound and our pc muscle work to enhance our pleasure on all levels.
- Self loving, side by side, in the circle during “erotic recess.” Sharing our own pleasure, without expectation, with other women is one of the most powerful experiences that you will ever have. This is about learning to be our own lover, integrating body shame, letting go of sexual oppression and sharing in sisterhood. This is also an opportunity for me to help personally guide you, towards orgasm or increased pleasure if you have never orgasmed or are having difficulty and would like help.
- Group massage. This ancient practice is almost impossible to describe in words. It is a transcendent experience where we are able to give and receive loving, non sexual touch from the other women in the circle.
Location: Drummondville, Quebec (exact location will be disclosed to registered participants only)
Dates: May 2nd, 10am — May 3rd, 6pm 2020
Cost: $495 CDN, included in this price – rechargeable vibrator to take home (value $100). $395 Vibrator not included. Slumber party feel with potluck style meals and snacks.
***$200 NRF deposit on registration.
Space is limited to 8 participants
Please advise me of any dietary restrictions
This workshop has sold out! Email email@example.com for all enquiries.
Natasha Salaash is a Betty Dodson-certified Bodysex instructor, Orgasm Coach and Sex and Intimacy Counsellor who believes that orgasm and pleasure — when practiced consciously — can serve as a gateway into self awareness and sexual awakening. Natasha is passionate in helping women explore their mind and body to discover their sexuality, build confidence, feel empowered, and live authentically. She believes that our primary sexual relationship is with ourself and that it is the base from which all other relationships can grow. Through her Bodysex Workshops Natasha provides a safe space and dialogue of shared vulnerability, where women are supported in shedding their physical and emotional masks, learning about and accepting their bodies, developing intimacy with themselves and celebrating their pleasure.
“We work on ourselves in order to help others and also we help others in order to work on ourselves.” — Pema Chodron
I was sharing with a friend recently some of my own challenges with intimacy — situations where I feel uncomfortable and scared. They asked me how I — who at times still struggle with my own intimacy — can help others with theirs.
It was an honest question and I didn’t mind being asked — yet I was surprised to be asked. I forget sometimes that there are people who believe that in order to help others, we need to have it all figured out ourselves. That would mean that a minister should never have moments where they doubt their own faith, a teacher never realize that their students know more about something than they do, or a counsellor never have issues in their own life that they don’t have a solution for.
I was drawn to work around intimacy because intimacy has always been a struggle for me. Because I have, in the past, found it difficult to look my partners in the eye, have hard conversations, allow my naked body to be seen, ask for what I need, acknowledge that I have needs, or be myself in sex. I chose this work because it’s the work I needed to do the most and because of that I’m always aware of and doing my own work in it. And because I’m continually doing my own work, I know that the answers for myself and my clients can be found right in the places we feel most uncomfortable. And because I recognize my own discomforts, I know them as my own and don’t assume my clients areas of discomfort will be the same.
When we look to our coaches, teachers, counsellors, ministers or practitioners as experts and all knowing, we fail to discover the empowering role we can take in our own growth. I think that a role in all of these professions is largely to be curious and provide a mirror — for the person seeking answers, back to the source — which is themselves. Otherwise the journey can become about some one else’s needs instead of our own. And wanting answers to come from someone else, or thinking that we have answers for someone else, are excellent ways to avoid the discomfort we feel in ourselves — which IS the source of all our answers.
I choose and seek out work that accentuates the residual discomforts in me and, through stepping into these discomforts with my clients, I continually support my own growth in intimacy. What is intimacy anyways if not sharing our most naked, most vulnerable selves with another? I do it because I’ve learned that beyond my naked, vulnerable outer layer is ….softness….an open door… light in a room that was dark. Each time I do it with you, I do it carried on my unconditional belief in your ability to go to your own source of intimate discomforts. I do it with you.
I’m thrilled to have Tempest Besse back to nourish my October Saskatoon Bodysex participants with her delicious and health full food. I cannot believe that for years Patti and I cooked all the meals!! The retreats are so much more relaxing for me now, that I have one less thing to think about, and I get more time to enjoy the sisterhood! If you are registered or still deciding here is some back ground on Tempest and her food philosophy. (another fun fact is that Tempest is also my neighbour!)♥
Tempest Besse, RHN, Chef, Traditional Herbalist, Reiki Master Teacher.
I have always had a special connection with nature and food. I grew up on Okanagan Lake in BC, where we had a huge backyard garden, and my Mom made everything from scratch. My Mom taught me that the simplest ingredients, when treated with care and love, are transformed into a meal. I am passionate about health, good food, and good energy. Every meal I make is infused with good vibes, healthy ingredients, and a little dash of my soul for good measure.
My Food Philosophy.
I absolutely love comfort food. There is something so warming and wonderful about an exotically spiced curry, or a fragrant, hearty bowl of soup that makes you feel happy and full.
As an Herbalist, I use herbs and spices extensively in my dishes. Not only do they pack a flavour punch, but they are nutritional powerhouses as well. If that curry tastes great and also helps fight inflammation, well that is a win-win in my book!
My style of food is a mix of world cuisines, from Thai coconut curries, to Indian style dahl, to Mexican beans, and Mediterranean dips. I take flavours from all over the world and make them my own, while tweaking ingredients towards more healthy alternatives. I follow the “clean 15 and the dirty dozen” methodology. This means that the things that are the most heavily laden with pesticides, like berries, greens, and peppers, I always buy organic. Learn more here: https://www.produceretailer.com/…/2018-dirty-dozen-and-clea…
I wouldn’t feed something to you that I wouldn’t feed myself or my family. I never used refined sugars, I use whole grains, and healthy fats like coconut oil, grass-fed/ organic butter, and good quality olive oil.
My meals are comforting, delicious, and something you can feel happy about putting in your body. Happy belly= Happy mind.
I’m very excited to offer something new that I’ve designed for people interested in exploring their sexual history to gain insight into who they are today, and why. This workshop series is based on the understanding that our sexuality involves much more than what we do with our genitals. It begins developing the moment we are born through our body image, sexual development/history, as well as experiences with intimacy/attachment and pleasure.
In order to have the sexual and intimate life you desire, it can be helpful to recognize how your past has shaped and influenced the choices you currently make.
Regardless of gender, sexual orientation or sexual history -whether you’ve had sex with hundreds of people or none, are in a relationship or not – this workshop is relevant for everyone. Click on the link for more details or pm me to register. A big piece of my passion and my heart is in this workshop series and I look forward to sharing with you. https://natashasalaash.com/roots-of-intimacy/
I was having a drink with a friend I’ve known from way back the other night when she said “I always tell people how you used to wear capris all summer because you hated your legs and you were fully covered up no matter how hot a day it was. Now look at you!” Lying on my bed listening to her say this, my mind kept going back and forth between those days of such body/self hatred to the present moment of being so comfortable in my body that I’m consciously trying to remember to keep my bare pussy contained in the tiny onesie I’m wearing.
It’s easy to forget how much the way I feel in this body has changed over the last 7 years. Before my first nude Bodysex workshop in NYC, I hated it. I don’t mean dislike, I mean hated it. I thought my legs were too big, vulva lips too long and my stomach too wrinkly and loose from all my pregnancies. The only time you’d see me in shorts was when I wore them in the swimming pool over my basic black one piece. I remember clearly thinking, when I walked into that Bodysex workshop, that I was disgusting and now everyone in the room would know it too. But they didn’t see me as disgusting, they saw me as me.
I survived that weekend feeling liberated and inspired. I realized that even though I still didn’t necessarily like my body, I wanted to like it. But how? Covering my body had allowed me to avoid it and in a sense I could almost pretend that it wasn’t a part of me. I remember thinking so many times that “if only my legs looked skinnier or my stomach firm again they’d feel like mine.” I put conditions on my body’s worth and yet treated others with love unconditionally.
Taking a cue from my Bodysex experience, I decided to actively and regularly uncover my body. I started looking at myself, touching myself and was even convinced by my friend to let her take nude photos of me. I was terrified, but with her and another woman’s support, I relaxed enough to enjoy the ultimate pleasure of sun on my bare skin. I even felt kind of pretty. The more I got naked, the more normal it felt and the more normal it felt, the more I craved it. When I began leading my own Bodysex workshops there wasn’t a woman in my circles that I couldn’t see myself in – and all I saw was beauty. Maybe my legs didn’t need to be thinner to be mine. Maybe my vulva lips contain an abundance of glorious nerve endings to provide me with a life time (and more) of pleasure. Maybe the loose skin on my stomach made me even more me.
When I look at these pictures now, I want to wrap my arms around the woman in them and say that her thick,strong legs will do an amazing job carrying her up and down the steepest hills of her life. That her long vulva lips will come to signify that they’re as excited for life as she will be and just don’t want to be contained, that her stomach will someday simply be a reminder of the most important people in her life – her children. She is this body but she’s also so much more. I am this body, but I’m also so much more.
These days my most favourite thing to do is to be naked outside, naked inside, naked, naked, naked. It soothes me when I’m sad, comforts me when I’m lonely and makes me feel like I’m drop dead gorgeous. Is it true? Who knows. Who cares. It’s what I feel today in this body of mine.
**special thanks to Betty, Carlin and Bodysex <3
Here I am explaining a bit about my upcoming “Intimacy In Sensuality” workshop. Check out the link for more details. Less than 2 weeks left to register!
Someone asked what they can hope to get from my upcoming “Intimacy In Sensuality” workshop and I thought it might be helpful to share my own experience in an effort to explain.
Achieving orgasm used to be my primary goal in sexual experiences. I love the release and how amazing it feels and, having spent years in my past not orgasming with a partner, achieving that equality was extremely important to me. Once I became orgasmic however, my focus became less on orgasm and more on pleasure. I started to pay attention to the subtle feelings in my body, and noticed that I felt more pleasure when my partner was touching my body without goal of achieving anything. Touching just to feel, explore and listen for cues as to what feels good for me and for his hands.
My vulva – not feeling any pressure to respond – awakens, swells, opens and becomes wet under his touch. Like a ripe, juicy, peach I become so turned on that by the time he penetrates me, my eventual orgasm is out of this world. He also notices that the pleasure he feels in touching me is greatest when he isn’t “trying” but instead “feeling” and “listening” to what my body responds to.
When the roles are switched and I’m touching him without goal, it doesn’t matter if he has an erection or not. I close my eyes and feel him with the tips of my fingers, inside edges in between them, palms of my hand, backs of my hand, lips, tongue and entire face. The pleasure on my skin compounds as I feel the pleasure in him build and I listen to his body for clues of where to move next. In this place of no demands we feel everything in such fine detail that the most subtle movements offer the deepest pleasure. This kind of intimacy requires nothing but time, presence and open vulnerability.
If you and your partner desire this kind of intimacy, this workshop offers you a safe and sensual space to begin. https://natashasalaash.com/intimacy-in-sensuality/
I was 34 when I first noticed the stirrings in my body that people call desire. I had just weaned my 5th child and my body seemed to sense that my time for nourishing babies was over. Like a magnet being pulled towards a force, my vulva felt ripe, charged and open. Up until this point sex had always been something I did for someone else’s pleasure, to be a good wife or girl friend, or to feel loved. I had never orgasmed during sex or been pleasured by anyone else to the point of orgasm. In fact, looking back, I’m not sure any man that I had been with had even tried to pleasure me. I masturbated in secret at times — just to get a quick fix — feeling awful shame and guilt that I was “cheating.”
These new feelings of desire excited me and brought awareness to my body and caring for it in ways I hadn’t thought of for 13 years — when all of my focus had been on supporting and raising others. I became more aware of how different foods made me feel and began to exercise and take dance classes. Curious about the near constant stirrings in my genitals, I sought out every book that I could find on desire, pleasure, orgasm and sex. I invited my then husband to read a book with me so that we could explore the activities in it together and he responded by suggesting that I read it and tell him what to do. I understood then that sharing pleasure with me wasn’t a priority for him.
Discouraged but not defeated I kept searching for a book that would help me learn, and in my search came across Betty Dodson’s book “Sex For One.” Finally I’d found a book about sex, pleasure, desire and orgasm that didn’t require having a willing partner to practice things with. With Betty’s help I began to practice masturbating using my hands and — with patience, persistence and the help of a timer — become orgasmic in this way for the first time! Being able to bring myself to orgasm with my hands also meant that I could orgasm during penetrative sex with my partner — as long as I was willing to help myself out. Sex changed for me once I knew what worked for my body and I celebrated the fact that I didn’t need to have pleasureless sex ever again. I loved Betty’s philosophy of taking ownership of your pleasure and not waiting on or blaming anyone else for a lack of it. I became epically good at pleasuring myself and my husband enjoyed the fact that I wanted sex everyday — until he wondered if I might be liking it too much.
When our marriage ended I continued pleasuring myself in soft and gentle ways that still included orgasm but were more focused on making love than sex. I made love to myself in front of a mirror keeping eye contact the whole time. I tried different positions, sounds, breathing patterns — exploring what felt good for me. Touching my body — in a way that I wished a lover would touch me — helped me through that time and also helped me begin to love and accept myself. Masturbation became so much more to me than a quick fix and I devoted hours of my time to it. Spending so much time intimately with myself helped me to recognize parts of my body that I hated (the ones I avoided touching) and provided me with opportunity to give those parts more love. I became my own lover, my own emotional support and my own source of pleasure. The self pleasure was good for my self esteem too as — realizing how good I felt to touch, I imagined my body would feel good to someone else too.
My “self skills” also helped me become more discerning with new partners because I knew how to have pleasure on my own and I no longer felt like sex was what I needed to do to feel loved. I remember one situation where I stopped right in the middle of making out with a guy and told him I was done. It was a one time encounter and it became clear to me that the only way I would have any pleasure with him would be if I did it myself — which I knew I could just as easily do after he was gone. He was shocked and asked if I would at least give him a blow job which of course I said no to. (Note that he didn’t ask if he could pleasure me) The high from choosing for myself and saying no instead of “enduring” unreciprocated pleasure, was like nothing else, and once again I was grateful that learning self pleasure meant learning to take care of myself in more ways than one. That night I had incredible sex with a partner who knew just what I liked and who loved me too — ME! After that I discovered that men were usually happy that I could bring myself to orgasm with some trying to pleasure me and others not bothering to. Some were intimidated by my relationship with myself and looking back I can see why, but I was so used to having to rely only on me that I knew no other way.
My path hasn’t been seamless and I’ve made many mistakes in an effort to untangle old patterns and beliefs around sex, worthiness and love — yet the whole time the one solid I’ve had through my journey is me. I’ve been there for myself in love and pleasure no matter what was happening or who I was with. Today I’m in a relationship with a man who’s as good at pleasuring me as I am, and I recognize it as a beautiful gift to have someone excited to explore and share with me. Having relied on myself for so long it isn’t always easy for me to receive from him and I still battle with fears of him not wanting to put in the time or effort for me. But he continues to — in non demanding and non expectant ways — and each time I respond by softening and trusting more. As good as I am at doing it alone, it’s wonderful to have someone who wants to do it with me.
Desire throbs between my legs everyday and I know the source and abundance of it depend on me — in my love for myself…for pleasure….for life. Like any relationship worth keeping, I don’t take it for granted and make sure to devote time alone in pleasure and love with myself often. Soft lips that swell under my fingertips. Wetness. Curves. Stretch marks. Squishy tummy. Scars. Each time I touch my body I don’t have to imagine that it would feel good to someone else, I know — because it feels good to me.
I birthed this girl 19 years ago today.
And in birthing her,
a part of me was born too
I became Mama.
Mama knew right from the start that even though she had other dreams and plans for her life, nothing in the world mattered to her like growing her little girl did. Their connection was strong and mama learned to watch her little girls body for clues to tell her when she was hungry, scared, tired or just wanting some reassurance. Mama learned quickly how to meet each of these needs before the little girl had to loudly tell her, and this made others sometimes question what mama was doing. “You’re holding her too much,” “She needs to learn to sleep alone,” “Just let her cry.”
Mama wanted to do right by her little girl and so she listened to what others said but the feeling in her tummy told her that the little girl knew what she needed more than anyone else did, so mama kept listening to her. During the day mama’s body fed the little girl, held her, and showed her the stillness, peace and presence that comes from being in nature. At night they cuddled together face to face, the little girl teaching her mama that she can be comfortable with eye contact, the healing power of skin to skin contact, and what the reciprocity of true love feels like.
As she grew, the little girl taught mama many other things too. When mama tried to push her before she was ready to do something, the little girl would sit — steady as a rock — until she herself was ready — reminding mama that it’s okay to take time and do things slowly. As the girl grew bigger still and began to navigate the world without her mama at her side, they both struggled sometimes with the little girl learning that mama can’t be there for everything and mama learning it’s not all up to her to fix.
I birthed this little girl 19 years ago today.
Today she is a smart, strong, proud and beautiful woman that I look up to. We come to each other when we’re down or need advice. We talk about boys, love, attachment, body image, racism and the meaning of life. I’m her mama still, but we’re also friends.
Thank you Acacia for helping me to trust myself, love without limits, be the mama I want to be, and for being the birth place for me to learn presence, intuition, curiosity, stillness, connection, vulnerabilty, intimacy and holding space — foundations of all the work I do now as a woman. I love you lambs.