November 16, 2011

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

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 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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LivingArtisan Jan 17, 2014 9:20am

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.

Rogelio Nunez Jul 2, 2013 10:00pm

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..

jakephillips Oct 11, 2012 9:31pm

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.

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