How being a stripper has made me a better yoga instructor. ~ Sarah Gunnin

Via elephant journal
on Nov 16, 2011
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Photo: lululemon athletica.

I am a better yoga instructor because:

  1. I listen very well. Strippers spend lots of time listening. Really, we do.
  2. I am not afraid to say ‘bowel movement’ in class. For example, instructing students on the benefits of a squatting position. Strippers by profession are not coy.
  3. I am not afraid to touch my students. I used to work at a bar that gave shoulder and scalp massages with a lap dance. I know, great idea, right?  I was giving cranial sacral massages and didn’t even know what it was.
  4. The word ‘no’ only makes me inquire deeper. When I see resistance in my students with a new pose, I allow them time to mull it over and then return with more instruction and praise. As a stripper I would walk around the club floor asking for dances all night, I heard “no” often. I didn’t give up and often the “no” would be a maybe and then a yes.
  5. I really, honestly believe all women are beautiful. I have seen all shapes and sizes, fake boobs, real boobs, voluptuous bodies and small bodies. Women are the shit. I emphasize in my classes that we are all beautiful. One exercise I ask my students to do is stand naked in front of a mirror, close their eyes and then reopen them imagining that they are their lover ready to devour the sexy body in the mirror. Do it yourself, see what happens.
  6. I have kick ass playlists. Music trends are started in strip clubs. Don’t believe me? Go hang out at your local adult entertainment club and check out the DJ and the music they spin. Dub step? First played in strip clubs five years ago.
  7. I am not afraid to laugh at myself in front of my students. The first class I ever taught I fell face first onto the floor instructing crow. I laughed and my class laughed. Being a stripper taught me not to take myself so seriously, I mean come on, I had on 6 inch clear heels and a sequined bikini. That’s comical.
  8. I encourage my students to ‘find out for themselves’ about life, about yoga about whatever they are questioning. So many times I heard wild imaginative stories about strippers and strip clubs. I encouraged people to go to a strip club, find out for themselves what it is like.  It always shocked people when they found out I was a stripper, they responded, “You don’t look (act) like a stripper.”
  9. I do have some awesome yoga clothes. How does this make me a better instructor? It reflects my style of how I teach and the vibe of my class: funky, fun and full of love. Strippers have great wardrobes, both on the stage and off.
  10. I don’t care about making money teaching yoga. I didn’t care about money as a stripper either. I did it for the fun of it.


Sarah GunninSarah teaches yoga in Tennessee with Manifest Collective. She wants my students to become warriors for peace and love. Sarah loves being a part of Elephant Journal. Love yourself and trust the universe. 


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28 Responses to “How being a stripper has made me a better yoga instructor. ~ Sarah Gunnin”

  1. fivefootwo says:

    sigh. I hope you have a very lovely Thanksgiving and a beautiful holiday season.

  2. Wendy says:

    This is beautiful. I gained so much wisdom in the 15 years I was a stripper. You exude some of the wisdom you gained in this post. I love it. Very real. You seem to be doing so good sister, I am proud of you, and happy for you! Would love to see you soon <3
    Satin 😉

  3. Sara says:

    Thanks Satin. You skooled me. Xoxo

  4. […] A yoga instructor lists the ways being a stripper made her a better teacher. […]

  5. I have not not shared my stripping past with many people. As a yoga teacher reading this I realize I have absolutely nothing to hide. Thanks for shining the light on that for me.

  6. cheekymonkey says:

    Here's a dollar sweetie, can I slide it in there?

  7. Laura Kay says:

    Thank you for writing this! As a former stripper and current yoga teacher/studio-owner, everyday I am thankful for the wisdom & confidence I gained from my years as a stripper and how that translates into my teaching yoga.

  8. Valerie Carruthers says:

    Great post, Sarah. Here's the meat of it, so to speak—you've been able to see the Yoga in your life experience and share that with your students. That is a gift.

  9. Dan says:

    Just goes to show the links between stripping and yoga for profit. Oh, and Dub Step first played five years ago in strip clubs? Yeah right!

  10. catnipkiss says:

    It's interesting to see how many comments are from strippers here. Is there a connection between stripping and yoga? I think so (add me to the ranks of ex-strippers) – I think dancing really connects us to the power of our bodies. Strippers have an amazing amount of body awareness that gives us pride in our own strength. Your #4 makes me so sad – I think that lap-dances are the most degrading thing that has happened to the industry since my time (the 80's, Times Square, holla!!). Then again, in my day, we had to walk around hustling champagne. I hated that; I used to hide in the bathroom until my set time 🙂 Your #5 is awesome, though, "women are the Shit!" yes, we are. I hope when I do my teacher training in the spring, that I can remember to use all the positive aspects from my past life; these are the things that make us who we are. They make us stronger. They make us great! – Alexa Maxwell

  11. slobbie says:

    A yogini should never post an article like this where her husband can read it because now he expects a "fun" dance every other night…..just sayin…

  12. Sunita Pillay says:

    Hi Tobye! I've been to strip clubs (two to be exact). And I think that stripping is not a complete sexual thing but more of an ego trip kinda thing, and a way to make some fast cash.There are certainly other, more superior ways for a woman to command the attention of a room, I think. And as far as stripping helping one get in touch with who she really is? Ehh, call me a skeptic.

  13. Anna says:

    great post! I am always amazed with people who can be honest…

  14. yogi tobye says:

    Sure if Mary Magdalene could be one of Jesus' disciples and even as some say his wife. with her dubious past; "She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? … It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts." (Homily XXXIII)

    Then why can't a stripper become a yoga teacher it the Patanjali sense?

  15. Sunita Pillay says:

    Oh, sure she can. No doubt about that. Transformation is open to all. Just look at the story of Valmiki, the author of Ramayana and once "sinner". Throwing stones is not my intention; I'm just dogging the notion of the actual act of stripping being about female empowerment, an idea I find laughable.

  16. yogi tobye says:

    Hear ya!

    Although, have you seen the way women react around male strippers? Freaking scary… that's not female empowerment either….

  17. Allisa B says:

    Me too ~:)

  18. Pamela says:

    I love this. Fun and funky yoga sounds great.

  19. Petruk says:

    Elephant Journal has no standards, Exhibit A. Can I submit my article "How watching cat videos on Youtube makes me a better yogi"?

  20. Wonderful post Sarah! For any of the naysayers…well…how you live your life off the mat is reflected in how you practice on the mat. It sounds like for you the body awareness and acceptance that started when you were stripping has gone a long way towards making you an amazing yoga teacher! xoxo

  21. Angela says:

    stripping, yoga: great.

    Am surprised lap dances are legal in US & other sex work not. (Although perhaps not: tobacco vs. marjijuana)

    Anyway, thanks for reminder we can bring everything we are wherever we go.

  22. globeyogini says:

    to all you naysayers, don't judge until you have been there. i was a go-go dancer for 17 years….it WAS fun AND i made a ton of money…AND i have been teaching yoga for 40 years. i agree with sarah on all accounts. and let me add this…dancing made me STRONG in every way, i had to fend for myself. i became FEARLESS. it taught me how to be self directed. i was my PROFESSION…not a job. these attributes have helped me as a yoga teacher immensely. om shanthi and shake that thang!

  23. Andy says:

    Why would you equate lap dances with sex work? Lap dances are a dancer wiggling a bit on a dude's clothed lap. No insertion or mutual nudity involved.

  24. […] How being a stripper has made me a better yoga instructor. […]

  25. Charles says:

    Love it! I've been looking for the "ideal" partner for some time and have concluded that a yogi stripper is exactly what I'm looking for. The reasons you list above are exactly the reasons I'm looking for a yogi stripper in addition to a whole lot more.

  26. jakephillips says:

    I am a strippers in gold coast turned yoga instructor. I have to agree with you, I also am not afraid to touch my students. I used to work at a bar that gave shoulder and scalp massages with a lap dance. When it comes to my kids, I still think honesty is the best policy. Of course, we take their level of understanding into account in everything, but its all just come naturally so far.

  27. Rogelio Nunez says:

    I agree with many points you brought up and how you learned about yourself from stripping….i have been to several in my younger years and enjoyed it, met some nice women there….
    I do question, i did not do it for the money though….you say it was fun, ok….but what else? i have heard from some it gives a sense of control over another person using your body this way…..I hope this is not your motivation in teaching yoga….
    I practice and teach a more classical Yoga asana/pranayama and the way you speak of teaching, great outfits/music hmmm its far from that… it brings yoga back to just the physical/ mental…. which i think we have plenty of and don't need more….
    one example is one of my teachers was a playboy bunny at the club, but she gave up her life of sex and drugs and went into Yoga, but without bringing the negative aspects of her playboy carreer, she too teaches classical yoga…
    thanks for sharing… brave of you..

  28. LivingArtisan says:

    Glad for what you wrote , having dated a stripper who was also a yogi, it was the most painful relationship in my life.

    For all her confidence and hustle, she viewed (views) men as a means to an end and had no real compassion. Her friendships were superficial, her confidence merely a mask, and though she was comfortable in her body she remained incapable of real intimacy.

    If I could go back in time, I'd avoid her like the plague. She was everything you describe, and the 'spiritual' aspect hid her dark side, a wolf in sheeps clothing.