“When I was a child, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” ~ John Lennon
Thirty years ago, yoga was not as mainstream as it is now.
So when I moved to Paris in the 1980s, needing to escape a high-pressure job in the fashion industry and an unhappy marriage, I had to search it out. Wanting to rediscover my yoga practice, learn a new language, and explore the next phase of my journey, I cut all ties, packed my bags, and set out for an adventure.
I managed to find a studio that I came to love. As a novice French speaker, I lacked the confidence to ask questions, so I followed the lead of the other students, walked quietly into the yoga room, and sat in Sukhasana (crossed-legged). I closed my eyes.
I could hear as more students entered, and I sensed the teacher had arrived. With my eyes remaining closed, he instructed us to begin class with three Om Shanti chants.
When I opened my eyes, they were met with the magnetism of the teacher, a young man who sat directly in front of me. My first thought was, “I cannot have sex with my yoga teacher.”
Each time he, let’s call him “G,” came close to whisper an adjustment in my ear, my blood rose.
Suffice it to say, we hooked up and spent about six months together. Essentially, he stayed with me—a reprieve from the ashram he lived in.
Growing up when Make Love, Not War posters were everywhere, sex was not dirty nor shameful; it was beautiful. Pre-HIV, fear was not in our consciousness, sex could not kill you, so we experimented freely. There was an innocence in the exploration of our bodies, and I am fortunate to have had a positive and lovely introduction into the world of sexuality.
Even as a teen, I had been interested in the deeper realms of sex. I read the Kama Sutra and was given The Sensuous Woman by my mother. To be fair, she also gave my brother The Sensuous Man. Needless to say, my mom was open-minded and ahead of her time.
So when G shared with me that he had studied tantra while in India, I was intrigued.
Even though I had experimented with some tantric techniques on my own, I did not grasp the intricacies of spiritual sexuality. I did not understand that surrender was the key and that in order to surrender we need to trust.
How I was able to trust a man I barely knew came down to my willingness to explore my boundaries. And those boundaries could only be discovered if I trusted. It was a catch-22—but I was game.
We ate, drank, slept, practiced pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, yoga, and sex.
Gone was the wham bam, thank you, ma’am, and going for the climax. Instead, it was endless foreplay, with tantalizing interludes for hours and days.
Talk about getting high on life with countless orgasms, each taking us higher and higher. It was as if we were living in a world where time ceased to exist.
It is said you can reach nirvana or enlightenment through conscious lovemaking, and we were experiencing glimpses of it—a level of connection to a higher realm which transported us out of our bodies.
As in any asana (yoga pose), you can do too little or you can do too much. The subtle body moves deeper in the pose as the breath releases and the mind moves aside. The similarities between yoga and sex were uncanny.
The art of surrender became my mantra. When I tried to control or do too much, I was guided to do less. Our bodies were entwined, yet instead of a rigorous exertion, it transcended into almost imperceptible movement—just the surrender of our bodies into each other. With the control he exhibited of his manhood and, eventually, the learned control of my womanness, we could gaze into each other’s eyes, synchronize our breath, and go to the moon and back. It became our private joke; I should have been an astronaut because I was leaving the planet so often.
I had conflated the concept between relaxation and surrender. Once I was able to let go of my preconceived ideas, and limiting mind, I came to understand the release of rigidity into the softness of surrender.
It is in this state of bliss that the essence of my practice was revealed to me.
The connection between surrender during our sexual exploration and my yoga practice were one and the same. The balance between effort and release unlocked the doors to the deeper realms of my consciousness.
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender—between pushing and letting go—and when to push and to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your well-being.” ~ Joel Kramer
As all things come to pass, my time with G also came to a conclusion. It was time to return to the world from whence I came, moving back to California.
From our time together, I gained a deep understanding of how important it was to let go. The let go became my cornerstone philosophy, essentially the way I move through the world.
To surrender is the ultimate let go.