“Yoni: The Sanskrit word for female genitals. Translates to “source of all life” or “sacred space.”” Urban Dictionary
“When you own yourself sensually, everything is open to you. You awaken more feeling in your whole being, experience the joy that is available to you simply because you’re a woman. If you are sensually aware…you are more confident and you enjoy your life more.” Regena Thomashuer, “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts.”
In our times, very few girls are taught to know and value their sensuality, sexuality and capacity to experience pleasure. Even worse, our religions and popular culture train most girls and women to think there is something wrong with their yonis: they are ugly, or “dirty” or “look funny” and smell bad. Very few girls are taught to use the terms “vulva” “vagina” or “yoni” and instead are taught cutesy slang terms like “hoo hoo,” “vajayjay” “yaya”—or worse, the vague and ominous “down there.” The terms our crude pop culture assigns the lovely yoni are even worse—not worthy of mention here.
With very little exception, most women arrive at adulthood somewhere between outright disgust to benign ambivalence about their yonis. When we hold shame for any part of ourselves, we become separated from our wholeness, our vitality, and our potency. As important, we unwittingly allow others to determine how we feel about something as deeply personal as our own bodies and sensual expression. How can we possibly allow ourselves to revel in the fullness of our sexual power and sensuality when we despise the very source of our pleasure?
I challenge you to confront how you think and feel about your yoni, to identify thoughts and feelings you’ve accepted as your own—that may come from relatives, mother culture, social/mass media—sources outside yourself. I am going to ask you to consciously clear out all thoughts and feelings that do not originate with you and mindfully adopt new thoughts and feelings about your yoni. As long as you hold beliefs that your yoni is ugly, dirty, smelly, misshapen—you will compromise your ability to reclaim and value the fullness of your pleasure and feminine power.
Thus, I ask: How do you think and feel about your yoni? Before you attempt to answer this question, first ask: “How have others taught me to think and feel about my yoni?” (Recognize that if you have negative thoughts and feelings about yonis in general, you have them about your own!) Include messages from parents, relatives, religions, and mass media/pop culture. Make a list of thoughts and feelings you’ve collected from others. Then ask: “Where have I accepted others’ beliefs about my yoni that may not be my beliefs?” Place a check mark by thoughts and feelings you have that may not be yours. Then ask: “Can I put aside the thoughts and feelings of others about my yoni? And finally, “Without anyone else’s input, how do I think and feel about my yoni?” More on how to do this in my next post!
The longer I have worked coaching women in reclaiming empowered sexuality, the more I have grown fierce about identifying and rejecting negative input about women’s bodies—especially our yonis—the very seat of life and exquisite pleasure. From my personal perspective, there is not a person on this earth whose opinion I value above my own when it comes to my yoni or any other aspect of my sexuality. And I choose to treasure me—just as I am.
I invite you to join me on this journey of fierce self-acceptance—and adamant rejection of negative cultural messaging in all its forms, especially as applied to women and women’s sexuality.
For many, this will be challenging. You may feel upset, confused and unsure. You might not like your yoni at all. Understand this: the weight of generations of negative input about all aspects of women’s bodies can be hard to overcome. I can assure you, the effort to make peace with your yoni is worth it. Isn’t it time we—each of us—claimed our inherent beauty and perfection just as we are?
Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach