It’s the eve of my last Bodysex workshop and, even though I’m choosing to take a break from facilitating, it’s scary to not know if I’ll ever return to it. It feels like I’m saying goodbye to a lover that I’m still deeply in love with, but the relationship isn’t nourishing me in the ways it used to. I’m already feeling the grief of all that I’ll miss; the feeling of home in the circle, the honor of sitting beside women as they open, share and connect to their vulvas. Seeing and being seen fully, the orchestra of our self pleasure, the smell of sweat and pussy, Marika’s hand resting on my leg as we hold space, my head on Justine’s lap as we discuss how the weekend went, Patti’s bare bum sticking out from her apron as she cooks — and the absolute normalcy of all of it.
Two days later the workshop is finished and, filled with gratitude and love, I pack up my supplies for the last time. I can feel myself wanting to cling and hold on — just a bit — to one last touch of my lovers hand as I say goodbye. I don’t want to let go of the connections, the memories, the endless internal spiral of self confrontation, awareness and integration. One of the gifts of Bodysex is that the eyes of the other women are a mirror for me, always showing me what’s hard to see on my own. In that mirror I see in my grasp to hold on — the reason I’m letting go.
I’m not that same woman I was 8 years ago who sat shaking outside Betty Dodson’s apartment before my first Bodysex workshop — terrified that all the women in the circle would be shocked and disgusted by my naked body. I’m not the same woman who was so ashamed of her scarred and stretched stomach, that she spent years repeating the mantra over and over in her head before allowing a man to see her naked: “This is my body and I accept it. If he doesn’t accept it, he don’t accept me and he’s not my person.” And I’m certainly not the same woman who only had sex to please, keep the peace or in an attempt to feel loved.
Looking in the women’s eyes this weekend, I saw myself as a woman who feels most beautiful when I’m naked and surrounded by other women, in nature or locking eyes in intimacy with my husband (ideally all of the above! He he). I saw in myself that I accept and love my body — and recognize it as an illustration of my history, a creator and giver of life and source of infinite pleasure. I saw myself as a woman who now owns pleasure because it’s my inherent right as a human being and no longer finds it revolutionary to orgasm. I live and embody this right.
Driving away from Drummondville, I feel my fingers slip away from my beautiful lover Bodysex. I’ve been gently easing into this moment for months, with the same care and tenderness I took in preparing for my children to leave the nest. It doesn’t make it any easier, but I can feel excitement deep inside me at the possibilities of other paths I can explore. I wonder what will be different about the woman I am in another 8 years? What will she have learned that I haven’t yet? What parts of herself will she confront that are still hiding behind armor? What will she find that nourishes her the most?
As the plane takes off, I close my eyes and imagine myself back in the circle with the 321 women who’ve shared it with me. I smell the coconut oil, feel the warmth of their hands in mine and — all around me, I’m met with an abundance of love, acceptance and encouragement. With my eyes, my body and my heart, I offer the same back to them. I hear Betty’s words whisper, “Natasha, the circle of sisters will always carry you, as long as you share your honest “I’s.” Goodbye for now my lover, Bodysex. This is my honest I.
Much love, appreciation and gratitude for Betty, Carlin, Patti, Justine, Marika and all of my Bodysex sisters.I love you.
Every Bodysex retreat has a different “theme” to it and I’m always curious as to what it’ll be and where it comes from. Betty Dodson described these circles as consciousness raising, and I often wonder if what comes up is what the women in the circle need at that time, or if it’s part of a wider collective need for humanity. ….
Normally Justine and I start the weekend by working together to unload supplies, set up the circle and prepare snacks before all the women come. This time was different as I was committed to attend an online training for part of that morning, and I could feel the pull of wanting to please everyone. I tried to be on the call and unload at the same time, but Justine insisted that I focus on my training while she went ahead and started. I know I can trust her to be honest with me about what she needs, but I still felt uncomfortable that she had to do more work, and I spent most of the hour of training feeling conflicted.
When the women arrived, the vibe was instantly chill and relaxed and there seemed to be no sense of urgency to anything. As a group we interacted intentionally and deliberately — slowly dipping our toes in to get to know each other, getting comfortable being naked and exploring what our bodies needed to feel pleasure. As I experienced with Justine in the morning, it’s often very difficult for women to ask for what they want or to take time for themselves when they assume others might be wanting something else from them. It can be especially difficult to do so in a group setting when there is fear of “putting someone out” with whatever the need is. This group seemed to be a real exception to this because even on the first day I could see women beautifully taking up space and time to care for their own needs.
There were two moments in group genital show and tell that this theme really showed up. Each woman took a turn sitting beside me in front of a lamp, mirror and the rest of the group while they looked at and displayed their vulva. This ceremony is my favorite part of the weekend and the vulnerability it takes cannot be understated. It’s not uncommon for it to be the first time a woman has looked closely at her vulva and it often comes with many emotions. Everyone took turns naming their vulvas and stating a wish for her, followed by the group welcoming the vulva by her chosen name. One of the women stated that she needed more time in her moment, and this seemingly simple act was incredibly powerful for many of us as a group because it’s often SO hard for women to acknowledge and ask for the time they need. Hearing her do so I think in a way, gave the rest of us some permission to do so as well.
The last woman to take her turn at genital show and tell seemed understandably nervous and I sensed that she needed to ease into it a bit. I helped her to breathe in a way to encourage her body to soften and when parts of her anatomy stayed hidden, we offered her the suggestion of gently inserting the tip of her finger into her vagina to help the rest of her vulva soften. (It’s amazing how this works) As she slowly inserted her finger into her vagina she identified tension so I encouraged her to breathe down into the tension and see if she could create space around her finger. She leaned her body back into the pillows behind her and slowly breathed space around the finger inside her. On one of her exhales I heard a rumble in her breath and encouraged her to expand the rumble into a deeper sound as a way to further release the guard of tension in her body. We made sounds together on each exhale and it was incredibly beautiful to watch her take this space for her body to soften and receive her touch. So often we force ourselves to endure penetration when our vagina is just being self protective because it isn’t ready to receive yet. Her offer of her finger, along with gentle nudging of encouragement, allowed her vagina to meet her in this new experience. Sitting with my body right beside hers I could feel a guard of tension melt from her, as she so bravely honored her body by listening to its need for time and softening.
These moments on the first day really seemed to create this theme of taking the time we need and to witness women doing this in front of a group who had been strangers only hours earlier, really touched something inside of me — especially since I had felt guilty just that morning of taking my own time.
I noticed this theme show up throughout the rest of the weekend in action and words expressed by the group. It showed up in women taking space and time to themselves in their room or in a corner of the big room during non workshop hours. It showed up in women taking time to explain how they do or don’t like to be touched in group massage. It showed up in women taking time during group self pleasuring to feel in their body what the right touch is for them. It showed up in a woman choosing to go home to sleep on the second night so that she could feel better rested. And I noticed it in myself on the last morning as I took time to visit with the women instead of trying to get things cleaned and packed up to make up for what I hadn’t done in setting up.
Whether this theme is personal to our group or if its a universal need, I really needed the reminder. In my work, in my pleasure, with family and throughout the moments of each day, I can give myself permission to take the time and ask for more time whenever I need it.
Much love to my new friends: Azalea, Turtle, Eleanor, Freedom, Rose, Lily, Luna, Joy, Honor, Alice and Sunshine. I wish all of you the space and time you need..
At the end of last year, my assistant Justine and I discussed how to go forward with Bodysex® Retreats with rising costs of everything, covid unpredictability and her recent move from Saskatchewan to BC.
We discussed the option of shortening the weekend retreat to one night to keep costs down and, with neither of us liking that idea, came to the decision to uphold the integrity and care with which we have developed these retreats, and choose quality over quantity.
When I was trained to facilitate Betty Dodson® Certified Bodysex® workshops by Betty and Carlin nearly 7 years ago, the workshop format was for 2 days at 5 hours a day with participants returning to their home or hotel after each day. Inspired by my desire for a full immersion experience of sex positivity, nudity and pleasure, I built a weekend retreat around the 10 hour format. Knowing how difficult it was for me to bare my body and share pleasure with other women at my first Bodysex® I, with the help of my current and previous assistants, have spent hours discussing how to make things safer, more comfortable, trouble shooting problems as they arise and imagining ways to encourage each women to feel like she can let down her guard, surrender to pleasure and be cared for.
The care we put into your retreat experience begins long before you arrive as I hand make individual jars of organic lubricant to aid in your self pleasure practice and Justine creates her own henna paste with which she will adorn your body. Tempest, our talented caterer, takes into consideration all of your dietary needs and creates a menu that incorporates her skills, knowledge of nutrition and whole foods as well as her heart into each meal. As a Trauma Informed Practitioner, I am here for you from the moment you register and will work in collaboration with you to help you feel as grounded and comfortable as possible – while also supporting you to push your pleasure edges to create opportunity for new possibilities.
These retreats are unique in that the I am both a facilitator and a participant. To facilitate in this way embodies my view of intimacy as I continually choose to show up for and with you, vulnerably and with a generous, loving and compassionate heart.
I will facilitate 2 Bodysex retreats in Saskatoon,SK. this year. The first is April 29-May 1st and the second is October 14th-16th. If you are interested or have questions please send me an email at email@example.com or follow this link for more details https://natashasalaash.com/bodysex-spring-retreat-saskatoon/
I’d been excitedly anticipating November’s Bodysex Saskatoon retreat for months — feeling like I badly needed a full weekend of connection, shared pleasure and space in a group. I love community so much and connecting with others in authentic and deep ways helps me feel grounded and gives my life meaning. Covid has really made me question where I fit when we’re told to be afraid of others, to judge them if they make different choices and that the safest place to be is alone. I don’t want to live in a world where we’re all the same, and I don’t want to just connect on a computer screen. I want to see your chest move as you breathe, smell your skin, watch how you move your body as you share your stories — and feel our hearts shine through our eyes when we look at each other. This is connection to me and, without it, I wonder where I really belong.
Justine — my assistant “stunt cunt” — moved to BC during covid so I mostly only see her now at retreats. A talented artisan and potter, she gifted me a mug the morning of the retreat and I couldn’t believe how much of me was reflected in it! The outside is covered in different textures because I love to touch and enjoy sensations on my fingers. It’s big because she knows that I always drink tea from a big mug. It’s designed and hand made by her which makes me feel connected to her energy when I touch it, and loved by her when I drink from it. Most special though is that she shaped my vulva — including my beautiful clitoris and all of her delicate petals — on the handle. I can finally play with my clit all day while I work!
This gift was the beginning of a weekend of gifts in the form of beautiful and flowing connection, authentic conversations, laughter, shared pleasure, story telling, amazing food, discussions on social justice issues, ethics, body image, consent, sacred prostitution — and so much more. I noticed so much of my own personal growth over the weekend — in particular less inhibition around my self expression and bodily functions. When I went to the bathroom I didn’t even think of closing the door, and when we first started doing Bodysex retreats I wasn’t relaxed enough to be able to take a shit all weekend! We sang together during group massage, taking turns touching and being touched by each other. I’ve always felt insecure about my singing but this time I sang passionately and ridiculously at times — doing drum rolls in the air and laughing. The freedom in forgetting to be self conscious has transformed my sex life because I can forget the conditioning that says it’s only about the guys pleasure or that it matters how I look, or sound, or express myself. Without those stories holding me back, I’m free to just feel it — and if it feels like a moose call coming out of me — I’m going to express it that way!
Each of the women in this retreat, reminded me in their own ways that Bodysex is more than something I “do” — its a reflection of the values I hold dear to my heart and the way I want to live in all areas of my life. I want to connect in person, listen to opinions and stories that are different than my own and accept the heart of the person sharing them because thats their story. This helps me accept my own heart. I want to laugh and be silly. To sing and wiggle the jiggly parts, and not take myself so seriously. I want to choose self pleasure as a way to heal the shame and conditioning we were raised in. To always be able to look back and see the evolution and growth that has come from these raw and naked connections.
These unfiltered connections are the cornerstone of who I am and the Bodysex sisterhood reminds me that, in this place, I always belong.
Thank you to my sisters: Turtle, Monroe, Hope, Indigo, Kitty, Dolphin Dreamer, Flame, V, Devour, The Empress and Pappilon
This past year or so, I’d begun to feel like I’d “broken up” with my body. Four years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have a tumor removed along with my right thyroid. For three years following that, my left thyroid took over the functioning and my body felt “normal” to me. Over the past year however, I’ve battled with sluggishness, fatigue, weight gain and just a general feeling that me and my body aren’t quite working together. I began taking thyroid hormones and iron pills this summer and have slowly felt my energy start to come back. Because of this disconnection with my body, leading up to the Quebec workshop I felt old feelings of shame that this would be visible, and wished I’d been able to lose weight before going – stuff I often hear other women say to me, but haven’t related to personally in a long time.
Sitting in the circle with women who speak mostly in French, gives me an opportunity to really attune to their bodies and listen to them beyond the words they’re speaking. (Marika graciously translates afterwards for me). It requires a deep presence and I notice many things I might not, if I were to focus on their words. The way their breath changes throughout their sharing, the rise and fall of their clavicles, legs or arms crossed that fall open, flush of skin. It reminds me of attuning to my lover in sexual intimacy where so much is said without words and the body tells its own stories.
In a way that I’ve never done before, I spent the weekend really watching the women in awe of their way of being, and imagining what a lover would notice and love about them. This happened organically — as I love fantasy — and anytime I’m drawn to something, a story of images starts to form in my mind. The women in the circle were a wonderful source of inspiration for this.
I imagined ………. a lover lying on the couch watching her spend the evening before the workshop cooking nourishing food for the potluck to be shared with the other women in the circle. I imagine them marveling at the generosity, time and the care she put into planning and preparing the meals at a time when she was likely nervous and excited about the weekend she was about to have.
I imagined……… a lover recognizing the vulnerability in her eyes, in the hesitance of her voice and the shortness of her breath as she speaks her story and shares what she truly wants.
I imagined……… a lover watching the jiggle of her bum as she walks away from him naked and wondering how she could ever be insecure about something that was surely made by a goddesses’ own hands.
I imagined…….. a lover noticing that she is becoming comfortable because her jaw has relaxed and her voice now flows smoothly from her mouth instead of seeping through tightly held lips.
I imagined……….. a lover inhaling her particular scent and pausing to breathe it all the way in. Savoring it as a symbol of the essence of her and enjoying it for hours after as it lingers on their fingers from touching her.
I imagined……… a lover feeling sad and lonely and longing for the most comforting place in the world — head on her chest and hands on the roundness of her belly, thighs, and breasts. The softness and squishiness that she sometimes tries to hide, just feels like home.
I imagined……… a lover watching her dance and wondering how they got so lucky as to have a goddess fall in love with them.
I imagined……… a lover delicately parting the petals of her vulva, watching it unfold before their eyes. I thought of them showing with their eyes and their words how much they adore this sacred part of her body.
I imagined……… a lover watching the flush rise up her chest as she orgasms.
I imagined…….. a lover thinking that what they love most about her is a sum of all the tiny little things and that being with her reminds them that life is really about the tiny little things.
Every fantasy we have, tells us a story about ourselves, and this one reminded me that the beauty of the women around me is multidimensional and not defined by one part. How was I any different than what I was seeing? Generosity, vulnerability, jiggles, relaxation, scent, softness, movement, delicate vulva petals, the flush of pleasure.
And just like that, me and my body are back together again.
Thank you to my sisters: Gaiananda, Frieda, Night sky, Anilla, Fleur de deese, Quetzalcoatl, Bella, Lotus, Lily, Houlaou, Butterfly bliss, Dancing queen.
For anyone who wonders what a Bodysex® experience can be like, or about what I do and why it means so much to me, ….. here is a powerful testimonial from a woman who was in the circle with me this month in Quebec.
I have one spot left open in Bodysex® Saskatoon Nov. 26-28.
“My challenge for the weekend was to free myself from my blockages in relation to pleasure and to reconnect with my body and its beauty, my beauty. I got naked, both physically and emotionally, in front of the magnificent group of women that we were. Still, that wasn’t the hardest part for me. It is rather to look at myself fully, straight in the soul and in the heart. Not just telling my story and the reasons why I had come to dislike my body, but rather looking at myself from within, in order to dust off and let the light in. There, I found love for myself, admiration and wonder for my body which carried life and which can now create differently. There, I found the desire to surrender to pleasure rather than get rid of it because of the fear of losing my balance. I reconnected with my senses and my inner joy. I was able to say “I am a woman in a sexual body and I have the right to pleasure”. By saying this sentence, I have freed myself from a socially accepted view of the female body and the stifling of its power. I chose to respect myself and name my wants and needs rather than accept everything with the fear of hurting. I also learned to love my vulva, despite or rather thanks to its difference. Natasha has helped a lot in this process, because she knows how to put us at ease.
A week after the workshop, I still feel beautiful, inside and out. I feel powerful, alive and grateful. I really needed this workshop, this feeling of deep and authentic connection with other women. Each of them came to enlighten a part of me through their shared experience. I found it so beautiful to feel that despite our sometimes very different life stories, we were all linked by similar aspirations and challenges. I recommend to all those who hesitate to participate in the Bodysex workshop to dare step out of their comfort zone and dive into the pleasure zone! No matter what level the job needs to be done, the weekend will take you in leaps and bounds towards greater happiness and better self-knowledge. I could go on and on talking about the workshop…I am so deeply grateful for Natasha and Marika for having led it by goddesses hands. Thank you for offering this space of transformation and liberation. Thank you for everything!”