Yoga with the Vagina, Hoo-ha, Coochie?

Via Brooks Hall
on Jan 4, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

Whether you are a woman or a man, I think that we could all probably do a better job of integrating the wonderful, intelligent va-jay-jay into our lives.

Even though the book, What’s Up Down There? by Lissa Rankin, M.D. isn’t about yoga per se, the effect of reading the book is that of more friendliness toward the precious and sometimes mysterious hoo-ha. It is yoga at its best, in my opinion, to welcome a possibly misunderstood, disliked or un-trusted body part into greater awareness.  Especially the vagina. (Maybe because I have one…)

When I get home from work, I’m as hot and bothered by my lover as the next person is. I know it’s hard to believe, but to most of us doctors, vaginas (and penises) are simply another body part, not unlike the ear or the mouth. What makes vaginas different from the ear or the mouth is the possibility contained within. In this place of wonder, love is consummated and babies are born. We gynecologists select our chosen field because we get to bear witness to this magic.
~Lissa Rankin, M.D.

I, like many women, was taught to fear this part of my body in an effort to keep me “safe” from a teenage pregnancy or disease. And if I allow myself to think about it, it seems that some of those early messages still hang around my pussy (I said the “p” word!). So to read about Dr. Rankin’s respect and awe for a part of myself that might have been “dirty” or “ugly” was so liberating. It just felt healthy.
What's Up Down There? by Lissa Rankin, M.D.
The book offers helpful and sometimes humorous information about coochies, sex, masturbation, orgasm, itching, periods, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, boobs, pee and butts.

Dr. Rankin uses lots of fun words for vagina (as I have in this blog post). She quotes Rachel Carlton Abrams, M.D., coauthor of The Multi-Orgasmic Woman: Sexual Secrets Every Woman Should Know:

Vagina comes from the Latin word for ‘sheath for a sword,’ so it is not necessarily the most powerful metaphor for, arguably, the most powerful and creative part of the human body. My general feeling is, if you don’t like the word, toss it. Make up another one.

I actually think that this could be a step towards enlightened sexuality, to properly and joyfully name our “love bits”. And I would love to hear it if Elephant readers know of any other empowering and fun words for vagina. If you do, please leave them in the comments below!

* This article is a part of Mulabloga, a Yogic Muse production. *


About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at:


29 Responses to “Yoga with the Vagina, Hoo-ha, Coochie?”

  1. Brooks_Hall says:

    dewy love petals?

  2. candicegarrett says:

    excellent Brooks! Keep spreading the good work!

  3. diana says:

    for the entire vulva – "lady garden" has a certain ring to it

  4. Padma Kadag says:

    no pun intended.

  5. JadedDove says:

    I have always called it a hoo-ha … but a good friend of mine calls it 'Yoni' and once I learned the meaning of this word, I adopted this name too… Yoni is the Sanskrit word for female genitalia, but it is also 'the divine passage, womb or sacred temple'

  6. Daniel Tanzo says:

    The kama sutra (yoni) and certain oriental descriptions seem to have poetic descriptions
    the jade gate, pleasurable portal, pudenda doesnt seem to offend quit as readily as words
    i used in my younger days
    I have always liked oh a lil georgia o'keefe got a laugh from lovers often

  7. lindsayyoga says:

    Love this, Brooks. When I learned the meaning of the word vagina I wanted to change it, too. And soon after my daughter was born it became Yoni (sanskrit). Funny, now I remember joking with my girlfriends in high school that we should change the name to something less ambiguous and scary, something like Bagel.

  8. yogi tobye says:

    Irish people use the slang term GEE. Seeing as the majority of working-class irish people tend to use a lot of vulgar language (it's a Celtic thing), it often gets put into terms like " Oi you Gee-bag!"

    I can only assume it must have come from the Indian GHEE meaning clarified butter…. but it wouldn't be advisable to talk about cooking with ghee down the local pub.

    I feel LOTUS-FLOWER is a much nicer term myself 🙂

  9. I have a friend who teaches dance to three year olds. A little while ago, she was teaching splits and a very free-spirited little girl announced "I can't get my vagina to the floor!" She responded by bursting into laughter and said that was okay.

  10. Oh bless you for loving my book! Deep bow. Namaste, sister. Thank you so much.
    With love and gratitude,
    Lissa Rankin, MD

  11. Tai says:

    This looks like my kinda' book.! The boys used to complain in our house about having to see books about Vaginas on the kitchen table where they just wanted to sit and eat their cheerios like "regular guys"… I do believe that life with a midwife has broadened their understanding and appreciation of Va jay jays. I'll go on amazon and order them copies too.

  12. karen carmack says:

    Here is a another name..this was thoguht up by my now 22 yr son but at the time he might of be 9…. He called it a SLOT becaue that is where a coin goes..

  13. Emer says:

    Not sure it's entirely a working class thing, Tobye. My husband, son of a psychiatrist, describes a near-miss as follows 'just missed it by a gee-hair'. Lady Garden is fantastic though Lotus-Flower even better.

  14. yogi tobye says:

    I'm not going to make any kind of comment about your husband Emer! :o)

  15. Waltman says:

    Outstanding. I want my young daughter to be empowered, not fearful. Yoni is a great word and connotation.

  16. I've always liked "yoni," which others have already referenced. I also like "buju," which comes from the Australian aboriginal language. The "pink panther" and "yabba dabba doo" make me smile. How about "Durga" or "Lakshmi" (Hindu goddesses)? Wikipedia has a list of Goddesses associated with fertility, any of which might be empowering terms:… . See also: for a list of terms that women have chosen themselves. I thank you — it is wonderful that you wrote about this topic!

  17. elephantjournal says:

    I actually like the sheath for a sword meaning. Swords are about violence, the taking of life. Scabbards are often beautiful, and represent patience, understanding, peace.

    A true samurai, it is said, never removes his sword from the scabbard!

  18. Sarah says:

    I like "yoni" – thank you for the new word. It's much better than my ex-bf's use of "muffin"! haha!

  19. Anandi says:

    Great book that is so needed to dispel the discomforts of dealing with "down there".

    I have a whole list of euphemisms a friend and I compiled when in high school while writing some steamy stories, but faves have been yogi which I learned through tantra and good ole pussy. When I was a kid, my family used "patacake" so I could never hear the nursery rhyme innocently or "jhumka" meaning jewelery (or those large lovely earrings) in Hindi, which is pretty. When I was shopping for earring in Hyderabad last year, I asked the lovely woman with custom pieces if she had other styles and she replied, "Yes, I have many big jhumkas!" I had to stifle my laughter 🙂 There was another instance when I was a youngun and a reggae song was playing and I was like " Aunty, what's a punanny?"; my aunt dismissed it as a hat…So there I was singing loudly about "wanting a punanny" and a male cousin made it his duty to correct me and I was so embarrassed. Good times though!! Thanks for the memories.

  20. […] from personal experience, always wear underwear with your four dollar leggings unless you want your lady junk to make an appearance in your next creative writing workshop (luckily I had a keffiyeh to put over […]

  21. Wendy says:

    always have and always will call it a twinkle ……

  22. Tamara says:

    Just saw the Vagina Monologues (why do i feel 14 and sheepish when i type that word? lol)…and this resonated with me So much! Well done. I loved your writing! Reposting for sure. Hi Ho to the Hoo Haa's, Muffins, Va Jay Jay's and as I like to joke "the pink pleasure palace". 🙂

  23. […] Happy Baby, and Wheel pose. Yummy! Don’t take my word for it, however; try it for yourself and explore all of the benefits of your hot yoga practice. Dr. Kelli Harrington is a yoga teacher and co-founder […]

  24. […] me and my experiences with yoga. I’ve written about the sex of yoga, suicide, sexy yoga, vaginas, mulabandha, slutwalking, pain, feeling like doo-doo, and everything from eating to pooping, and […]

  25. Gracelyn says:

    Is that really all there is to it because that’d be flbaerbagsting.

  26. […] I got on my latest vagina trip when I heard about an elected official in Michigan being silenced for using the word […]