By: Carla Hopkins
Surrounded by a writhing sea of undulating women, bathed in a magical combination of red light and the glow of a full moon, I am acutely aware that participating in the rise of the divine feminine is where I want to be. Who wouldn't?! A woman who has learned to embrace herself; her sensuality, sexuality, physicality and emotional fluency, has accessed an inherent power that is limitless.
This luscious scene from my life is part of something I hold very sacred. This is Slow Grind sensual movement class for female identified or non-straight males, at Hustle and Flow. Every Thursday evening for the past year, we strip down our inhibitions, limitations, and for many, our clothing. We spend a sensuous hour slowing down, letting go and flowing together in a way that feels both excitingly naughty-delicious in a forbidden fruit way and profoundly hallowed in the most ancient way.
I have dedicated myself to raising my own energetic vibrations and guiding others through the wonderful medium of movement to explore and enjoy their body as the gateway "drug" to radical self-acceptance, self-love and increased personal power.
What makes self-acceptance so radical? Threatening, even?
Our society has cultivated an atmosphere of comparison and shame. We all know how devastating these elements have had on our psyches. The perception of our bodies can make or break us. The system capitalizes massively off of our beliefs that we are not good enough, right now, as is. We have internalized criticism of not only the shape and size of every individual body part, but also how our bodies operate. Emotions deemed negative are often considered messy, unstable, scary, shameful, unhealthy or just wrong. We value logic over intuition and are taught to override this wisdom, casting it off as silly or irrelevant.
Natural biological functions and hormonal influences are not only misunderstood, they are made to feel un-sacred. We are repeatedly told that our female bodies betray us and others. Our needs are not a priority. Our fears are invalid. Our sexuality has been misconstrued into being something perverted instead of beautiful. We are simultaneously told that vulnerability is a weakness while being coerced into being vulnerable for others entertainment or selfish need only to be condemned for what we reveal. Most women are also very aware of the policing of our bodies on many levels and the pressure to fit expectations. We even judge other women's appearance and self-expression. We give away our own power adhering to the belief that if another woman is too beautiful/sexy/fit or dresses in a way that is attractive to men then she is competition. An enemy, not a sister.
Many of us also have personal experience with traumas such as rape, molestation, mental and physical abuse and female health issues often caused by a disconnection to ourselves and our needs. There seems to be a cultural confusion over what consent is. This atmosphere has shaped us into beings that are unable to relax, we hold ourselves back and are unable to share energy with others. All of our relationships suffer, including with ourselves. We do not feel safe or empowered to explore our needs and desires. We suppress the sway of our hips. We accentuate the sway of our hips seeking fleeting validation from unhealthy sources. We feel overwhelmed. We think we just need to be stronger. We think we need to be thinner. We feel unseen.
Let's take a deep breath down into our bellies, into our womb space. Touch yourself. Hold your belly, caress it, she has been through a lot.
Now start to rock your pelvis, slowly, luxuriantly.
Reclaim your body.
Breath into it.
How does it feel?
It doesn't have to feel good.
Accept where you are at now.
Begin to move towards what feels good.
Trust yourself, you know what's good.
Accept what arises, the sounds, the waves of emotion.
I see you.
The darkness is not bad and the light is not good, it just is.
Ride it. See it through.
Meet yourself where you are at.
If there is pleasure, embrace it.
If there isn't, embrace that as well.
This is how you begin to love yourself.
This is how you start to release shame and sexual trauma.
This is how you call in your power.
This is how you heal.
The Goddess is awake and we are shifting toward an increase in awareness of the divine feminine. This is not new news, but it can be easily misunderstood. Here is my interpretation:
One of the most surefire ways to tap into this divine energy is through developing a relationship with yourself through your body. While all genders have the ability to do this, woman often have a unique ability in this aspect because our bodies are designed to grow life and are designed to access amazing amounts of creative energy. The key to drawing from this source, and to flow with the natural rhythms of life, is to feel. Our spirit manifested itself into this physical body to have the full range of the human experience.
Humans are sensual/sexual beings, men AND women cannot thrive without expressing their sexual energy. We also all have both masculine AND feminine energies, a balance of both is healthy and allows us to live fully. I think at this point, the general population is well aware of what an imbalance we have experienced in our lifetime. The psychological effects of an overly masculine/yang society have done damage on ALL genders. (see above) The rise of the divine feminine is not about overpowering the masculine, it is about bringing back a natural equilibrium so that we can all live more joyful and abundant lives. With this embodiment of sexual/sensual feminine energy, we become more open and receptive to embracing that which brings about positive change as well as more aware of what we need to release or avoid that does not serve our highest good. Once we become attuned to ourselves in this way, we can then begin to attune to others. We have become a conduit for loving vibrations and everyone benefits.
Movement plays an essential part in channeling energy.
Sensual movement is something that I have always been compelled to do. I don't think I could've suppressed it. Since adolescence I have spontaneously moved in ways that many would deem erotic, but that I view as essential, therapeutic and spiritual. I have danced my way through any crisis in my life. I have danced to discover myself. If I feel lost or small, I move my body and I am reminded of my own divinity. For most of my life, this movement practice has been mainly solitary. Although I have had the opportunity to dance with troupes, enjoyed dance communities, performed, danced at raves, festivals and clubs all over the country and taken lessons from a variety of amazing dancers, my most intimate and uninhibited moves were rather closeted. When I started to realize that other women craved to move in these ways, I wanted to provide a class where we could give ourselves permission to do something provocative. More importantly, I wanted to cultivate an innate awareness that we are absolutely divine just the way we are in that moment.
Many movement classes emphasize working toward a goal, striving, self-correction, pushing toward a new pose, a higher number of reps, perfecting a sequence, tighter abs, smaller this, bigger that…..When we are moving within that mentality or trying to master someone else's method, we not only limit natural or creative movement, it sends us a constant message that we are not enough. We all have to determine what is a healthy movement practice for ourselves. Like most, I have gone through many phases of fitness regimes, some including an immense amount of aesthetic motivation. Thankfully, the bellydance and african dance community has consistently shown me that the real beauty of a woman embracing her sensual/sexual energy is not how her body looks physically, but how her vital essence is revealed through the body. Also, when you spend massive amounts of time dancing sexy in the mirror, you tend to start feeling pretty darn good about yourself!
What happens in Slow Grind?
We move in waves, in spirals. We circle our hips. We spread our legs. We open ourselves deep, then deeper still.
We booty pop. We twerk.
We spend a lot of time on the floor, grounded, supported.
What we are doing is nothing new. Women have moved their bodies like this since there's been women. On every continent and island we have moved like this; in joy, in agony, in pleasure, in pain. We have danced together in groups, danced for each other as women, danced for men, danced alone. We know the power in our swaying hips. Sensual Feminine Movement has for centuries been used to maintain a healthy body and spirit. Used in rituals in many cultures to express our desire to create, connect and to prepare ourselves for pregnancy and birth. On a physiological level, these movements are functional and healing. They strengthen the entire core and pelvic floor, improve posture, relieve pain, increase healthy blood flow to our organs and help to maintain hormonal balance. Energetically, we not only stimulate and increase our life force energy, we also clear away stagnant blockages that impede our growth and renewal. When a woman moves freely, she moves through all emotion. There is no way to move through all emotion without moving sensually. We are not just dancing sexy, we are sexual beings who dance.
Attire typically includes:
Soft knee pads to protect those joints.
Heels are fun and completely optional. Many wear them for just part of class.
I am a huge fan of costuming and the effect it can have on how you move. It's fun to play and to create a look you like.
This is a safe space with flattering low light so you may feel great rolling around in your underwear.
Your comfort is what is most important, wear as much, or as little, as you want.
At Slow Grind, my intention is for you to enjoy your body. To appreciate how it moves in all the ways unique to you. I want you to know that even though I am up front guiding you, I am also inspired by you and am subconsciously incorporating your moves into my flow. I want you to look at yourself in the mirror, under the red light in your bra and panties (or sweats, or t-shirt & shorts, or lingerie or yoga pants… it's your call!) as you allow your body to drip like honey on the floor. I want you to see that you are so fucking sexy, it hurts. I want you to know that I think you are beautiful and I think you should know that. I think you should think you are beautiful too. You might not know it yet, sometimes we get on this trip where we forget or we haven't realized, but that's ok. We are all at where we are at. I am here to encourage you in your true expression and to honor yourself first.