Acts of intimacy don't have to be limited to our lovers and sexual partners. In fact, when we utilize sacred techniques like yoni massages to explore deeper connections within ourselves, we create new pathways for healing and releasing shame.
“Yoni massages are a type of sensual massage — it's not necessarily about sex or foreplay,” says Brianne Patrice, a sensuality doula and founder of the sexual wellness platform, Twenty Nine Thirty. “The ultimate goal is for you to be more comfortable in your skin, tuned into your body, and be able to name and understand what brings you pleasure.”
Truth is, factors like shame, sexualization, and the belief that most conversations around sexual exploration are “taboo” can leave us feeling foreign in their bodies. “Our bodies might not represent our age because, as Black women, we have hips, butts, breasts, and we’re just curvaceous. A lot of us can grow into that relatively early, and it's not our fault, it's just the blessings of being a Black woman,” she says.
“We are not exactly taught what it means to have a body, to feel desired, to have a vagina, to interact with our vulva, and to have breasts.”
From the time we become young girls, teenagers, and even adults, labels and societal standards get placed on us long before we’re ever able to define what our bodies mean for ourselves. With this in mind, it’s important to have the tools necessary to make a safe return to ourselves.
“A lot of my clients start with journaling or breathwork, and some are more comfortable with diving off into the deep end with pleasure mapping, masturbation, and pleasure play,” Brianne says. “The practice is about allowing yourself to move away from past shame so you can cultivate a better relationship with your body.”
Navigating sexual trauma, PTSD, and even religious shame can seem like an uphill battle without the proper roadmap. Thankfully, utilizing a sexual doula like Brianna can provide you with the emotional and spiritual support you need to improve your self-intimacy.
Q: How does yoni massage work to promote sexual healing and a deeper connection with our inner being?
A: It's a spiritual practice. It's a practice that allows you to connect to your mind, restore a sense of safety, and remind you that this body of yours is deserving of pleasure. When we are talking about sexual healing and being in community with ourselves, we are talking about creating a sacred practice for us to be in union with ourselves.
It's not always going to feel good. It's not always so exciting or enjoyable. There will be moments where you're going to cry. There will be moments when hard feelings and emotions come up. But I always encourage people that instead of shying away from those moments, continue to move through those emotions and allow the movement of massaging yourself to melt away those emotions.
Q: What’s the difference between a yoni massage and masturbation?
A: It's really about the intention more than the act itself. We've been conditioned to think about masturbation as a quick 5-10 minutes to rub it out with our favorite toy, and then we’re on our way.
Whereas yoni massages are more of a mindful practice and the intention behind it isn't to orgasm. You're not in a rush. You're talking very clearly and intentionally about understanding your body. Yoni massages are more of a healing tool and can be a grounding practice as well. You’re coming back to yourself, filtering through your trauma, and releasing all of that pent-up emotion from past relationships, sexual trauma, your childhood, and religion.
Q: Should we be incorporating affirmation during yoni massages? How should we talk to ourselves during this practice?
A: Absolutely! It kind of tetters on the line of sex magic, and I adore sex magic. If you want to talk out loud, do it. If you want to keep it quiet and talk to yourself in your head, do it. However you want to communicate with yourself during this time, it’s up to you. You definitely should be speaking to yourself with kindness and asking yourself questions.
Speak life over yourself the way you would a partner or friend. Affirm yourself. Tell yourself how beautiful, fine, sexy, important, necessary, and abundant you are. Use that energy to your benefit because it's your energy, and it can absolutely allow you to manifest as well. Visualize your future self and have conversations with her. Again, this is your erotic energy, this is your purest energy, and it's the rawest form to use whatever you want to have a conversation with yourself.
Follow These Steps To Perform Your Own Yoni Massage:
Prepare your mind.
“We want to bring our full self into this, so take a few minutes to meditate and breathe slowly and deeply. Set the mood for yourself, whether that is lining satin sheets, lighting candles, or turning some music on. Court and date yourself in this process. The same way that you would want to set the mood for your partner, set the mood for yourself. Help yourself get into the mindset to explore your body.”
Look at yourself in the mirror.
“Spend time touching yourself in the mirror, standing up, and gently running your hands all over your body before you fully dive into the massage. Take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate your body in the mirror. It can be uncomfortable to be with ourselves in that vulnerable state, but I find it to be empowering to look in the mirror and never break the gaze you have with yourself.”
Find a comfortable space and position.
“It could be your bedroom or the bathroom, wherever you feel comfortable. Bend your legs or place your feet on the ground and spread your legs. Start with sensual touching, massaging your abdomen and your belly, playing with your breasts and your areolas.”
Stay connected to your heart.
“Try to keep at least one hand on your heart and the other hand playing with your yoni. Pay attention to your heart, how your heart rate is increasing, or if it is relaxed. Notice when your body tenses up, breathe, and force that energy back down to your yoni to relax. The goal again isn’t to orgasm — it can happen and more than likely will — the point of the massage is for you to be comfortable, confident, and to communicate with yourself.”
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Featured image by Getty Images
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Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
What would you do if you just got laid off from your corporate job and you had a serendipitous encounter with someone who gave you the opportunity of a lifetime? Tamara Taylor was faced with that decision in 2013 after she was let go from her sales profit and operations coach job in the restaurant industry and met a then-up-and-coming stylist, Law Roach, on a flight to L.A. She and Roach struck up a conversation, and he shared how he was looking for someone to run his business and was impressed by her skills. While she took his business card, she was unsure if it would lead to anything. But, boy, was she wrong. Two weeks later, after packing up her home to move back to her hometown of Chicago, she called Roach; he asked if they could meet the following day, and the rest is herstory.
Taylor founded Mastermind MGMT, an agency that represents some of Hollywood’s best “image architects” like Roach, Kellon Deryck, and Kollin Carter, who are responsible for creating unforgettable style and beauty moments for celebrities like Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Taraji P. Henson, and more. Taylor and her company possess an array of functions, but her biggest role is to be her client’s advocate. We hear endless stories about how creatives aren’t paid or underpaid in the entertainment industry, but Taylor ensures that her clients get their piece of the pie. The entrepreneur opened up about her company and her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, in an exclusive interview with xoNecole.
“I always say that I'm an artist advocate first, deal closer second. So my primary focus is to just make sure that the artist is getting everything that they deserve, whether it's compensation or, you know, certain accommodations, but just making sure that they have everything that they need to be able to show up and provide the best service that they're hired for,” she explained.
“So you know, in the beginning, it was hard because I didn't have any experience, and the artists who I was working with at the time–we were learning together, meaning neither of us had assisted anyone. We didn't have mentors in our specific fields. So every deal was like a new learning experience for us from the styling side and also from the business side, and so it took, you know, doing some research, using some very creative tactics, to find out information in the industry and just starting to request accommodations that I knew other artists were granted, who maybe didn't look like my artists.”
Photo by Christopher Marrs
Ten years later, there’s still not many people who are doing what Taylor is doing. However, things have gotten easier thanks to the research and connections she made in the beginning. During Mastermind MGMT’s ten-year anniversary celebration, she announced her non-profit, Mastermind Matters, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that focuses on helping young entrepreneurs through a 12-week program. The program is divided into “two routes.” The first route is for aspiring creative artists who want to start a business from their talent and all the things they need to learn about business, such as taxes, life insurance, etc. The second route is for practicing creative artists who are already in the industry but need resources such as how to plan for retirement or how to sustain themselves if they can’t work for a short amount of time, i.e., the pandemic.
“I just feel that I'm able to have a business and be successful because of their art as well. And so there are things that I know, I tried to teach it to them but understanding that I can only do so much because I'm not a subject matter expert in those fields,” she said. “So I at least want to be able to provide the resources, and then if they make their grown decision not to do it, then that's on them. But you know, I could be guilt-free and taking advantage of the resources that I'm also providing to them.”
Taylor continues to be an innovator in her industry by always pushing the boundaries of creativity and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. The Chicago-bred businesswoman is moving into the tech space thanks to a new invention created with her clients in mind, and she is looking forward to bigger collaborations in the future. Follow Mastermind MGMT on Instagram @mastermind_mgmt for more information.
Feature image by Christopher Marrs