Psalm Isadora is the top tantra expert in the world and a highly sought-after sexuality, relationship, and trauma expert specializing in women’s health and empowerment as well as modern sexual education. In this weekly advice column, Psalm brings her expertise to sexual and relationship issues most people face at one time or another. If you want to ask Psalm your questions (anonymously), email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: As someone who focuses on holistic healing, I have primarily tried to heal from sexual trauma by going to hot yoga and meditating. As a multi-time sexual and physical violence survivor, I often wonder if this is the best route. I've tried experimental therapy such as EMDR and it has been unsuccessful. I want to be able to do wheel pose without being scared. I want to be able to trust my yoga teachers when they adjust me. Can you help me build trust and heal from so much violence and trauma without utilizing Western techniques?
Absolutely. Yoga and meditation are great routes to healing. I have experienced sexual trauma and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of that abuse. I also found that yoga helped me reconnect with my body, which was a very important step toward healing and sharing my body with others in a healthy way.
I'd been shut down, numb, and in a fight-or-flight state for so long from the PTSD and sexual trauma. Yoga helped bring me back to life, while the meditation helped to calm my mind and soothe my soul.
Here's how to heal through yoga, meditation, and tantra:
I found yoga as a way to connect my body, mind, and spirit. Because of my sexual abuse, I hated how sexual my body was. It only brought me pain. I numbed myself and disconnected. Through inhaling and exhaling during yoga, I could feel positive energy in my body for the first time. And I began to feel comfortable in my own skin.
Even though yoga and meditation helped, something was missing. I knew I still had to find a way to channel my sexual energy without shame. I had heard tantra described as sexual yoga and started studying it. I was so excited I finally found a path that incorporated all of me. It was a way to connect my sexual and spiritual energy in a healthy way. And, most importantly, it taught me not to feel ashamed of my sexuality—to embrace being a sexual woman instead of feeling fear or shame.
My big sexual breakthrough came when I was at an ashram. I practiced a tantric technique—tantric breast massage—on myself. Even though I'd had orgasms before, they were always a way to escape my pain instead of a way to honor my body. When I let go of the shame and guilt and learned to worship and honor my sexuality, I had my first orgasm that wasn't followed by feelings of guilt and shame—the first orgasm where I felt truly connected to myself. I felt empowered. I didn't hate that sexual energy that had previously only brought me pain. Instead, I appreciated my sexual energy and viewed it as sacred and spiritual.
I felt a monumental shift in my consciousness. That was the first time I realized sex could be empowering. It stripped away layers of shame. Suddenly, I was liberated. I was a goddess. And once this happened, I wanted to share it with everyone in the world.
Like me, you need to address the sexual aspect head-on and that's where tantra comes in. Even though yoga is amazing and beautiful and meditation helps calm your mind and get centered, there's still a taboo around sexuality. So even in these holistic areas that help you heal your body, mind, and soul, that sexual taboo can keep you from healing fully.
To help you reconnect with your sexual energy and yoni (your most sacred space—your vagina), I suggest this jade egg program. It can help you feel more comfortable and strong physically and help you to simply feel more while releasing trauma.
Unblocking the chakras:
Another way to release trauma is to unblock all seven chakras. It's probably not just your sexual energy (which is in your second chakra) that is blocked but other areas as well. Once your second chakra is unblocked and you are in touch with your sexual energy again, you use that like rocket fuel to clear out the other chakras.
Until you start integrating your sexual energy into all areas of your life, you're never going to find true healing. In tantra, sexual energy is not just about having great sex; it's about using that energy to fuel every aspect of your life (work, family, friends, creativity, etc.).
The Yes! Breath:
In the meantime, to give you energy and empowerment on daily basis, I recommend the Yes! Breath. It strengthens your voice and your third chakra (which represents willpower and self-esteem).
Often people with PTSD or any kind of sexual trauma have low self-esteem. This breathwork will give you an instant high with a surge of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin—all the brain chemicals that make you feel good. And feeling good is a big step toward improving your self-esteem.
Here's how to do it:
Stand up with your fists in the air over your head in the shape of a hockey goal, and take a big inhale. On the exhale, pump your arms down to your sides and exhale with an audible, strong breath, yelling "Yes!" Do this 10 times in a row every morning.