My boyfriend of a year and a half had just broken up with me and I felt worthless. At 28 years old, this was the first time I had been in love with another man. Coping with this type of hurt was uncharted territory. I had never allowed myself to be this vulnerable. If this person I loved didn’t want me, would anyone else? I was angry and confused. Along with a broken heart, I felt impotent and unworthy of my own touch, let alone another man’s.
My usual response to a breakup was to brood and have sex with as many men as possible. But this time that didn’t interest me. Instead I found peace in my yoga practice. It was a space to let go of my feelings. I could focus on physical sensations. Fatigued muscles. Sweat rolling down my brow. Breath in and out.
After one particularly vigorous power flow class, I fully let go into savasana. My awareness was enhanced. I felt lingering sensations from poses throughout my body. My breath regulated itself. At this moment I wanted nothing more than to rub my hands down my sweaty chest and into my shorts. The urge to stroke myself to release flooded me.
It wasn’t a physical or emotional response to any external stimulus. I wasn’t appeasing erotic thoughts. This urge came from deep inside me, almost from beyond me or at least beyond my understanding. During my drive home, I played with myself, teasing and preparing my body. Once home, I stripped, placed my mat down and resumed final resting pose. Within a few strokes, I exploded.
This moment of release was not about simply cumming. It was an orgasm that came from my core and was felt in more ways than the one I was used to. I felt lighter, more at ease, more natural. I wanted to explore and discover more of myself. I continued this practice for weeks: edging and building sexual energy for several days, taking a yoga class, then coming home to release.
After some time, I began bringing other men into my practice but it was different now. Normally I'd leave a hookup without much thought. There were no strings attached and we didn’t owe each other anything. It was a good fuck to get off and move on with my day. Now, I was more aware of the experiences. I carried something from each encounter into the next: a memory or an experience that stood out to me, his scent, the thrill of waiting to get together. I’d get myself close to release. My body would tense. Every part of me wanted to finish. But I kept my orgasm for myself.
Stopping close to that desire put me in a different mindset. I was present. Alert. Confident. I felt no shame about my body or what I wanted in those moments. I was free of constraints. When I did release, the memories of those experiences with other men would flood through me at once. The orgasm brought my mind, body, and spirit together.
As opposed to typical masturbation, this energy stayed with me throughout my day. While the height of this energy would wane, I was able to carry some of it like a burning ember with me. It fueled my workouts, my artwork, my relationships, and made me feel sharper intellectually. I felt powerful. My dick was hypersensitive and hard more often than usual. It would pulse and leak pre-cum throughout the day. When I was with other men I could sense this energy rise up between us, like the flame was being fanned and passed from me to them and from them on to someone else.
Exploring my body with this level of awareness, seeing what I desired as beautiful rather than shameful, taught me that sexuality is a form of spirituality; I understood that erotic energy is not only for sex, but for holistic transformation. Grounding myself in my natural body helped me heal from not just the recent hurt of a break-up, but from decades of negative messages about who I am.
Radical Yoga Issue 1 features art and writing exploring sexuality, spirituality, and queer history. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in receiving a copy.