self pleasure
Making room for self-pleasure in our daily life is the key to creating fulfilling relationships with ourselves and others — and it doesn’t need to start and end in the bedroom.

“Self-pleasure isn’t just an act that happens in the bedroom, it’s a way of life,” says Abby Branson, a Tantra and Kundalini yoga teacher based in Western Australia. Abby is referring to self-pleasure as the relationship between oneself and the world through a sacred sexual energy known as “Kundalini” in Hinduism, or “Eros” in Ancient Greek.

Many people assume self-pleasure is simply about masturbation or having an orgasm, and although that is a part of it, Tantric texts dictate that self-pleasure is much more than just physical pleasure. It is about experiencing “the pleasure of self”, as Abby calls it, to its full extent. It is physical as well as mental, emotional and spiritual pleasure. 

If your self-pleasure only happens in the bedroom, you might be feeling somewhat dissatisfied. According to Abby, we need to cultivate our sexual energy between sexual events to make room for sexuality in our daily life so we can fully access pleasure. “Self-pleasure can be as simple as taking deeply satisfying, nourishing breaths,” says Abby. “It is about connecting with your sexual energy and allowing its sensations to move through your body so that it can inspire you, nourish your being, guide your actions and liberate your life.”

Cultivating your sexual energy

There are many ways you can access your sexual energy: conscious breath, music, dance, movement, masturbation, massage, creativity, nature or anything that invokes a state of sensual presence. It can be as unassuming as light gardening or as passion-evoking as a heated debate. Your journey is about finding the things that bring you into contact with your divine Eros. “When you begin to generate and connect to this deep pleasure state within yourself,” says Abby, “you begin to move through life truly alive.” 

But to achieve this kind of love affair with yourself and your life, you need to slow down and be present with yourself. While your thoughts race with work to do, errands to complete, groceries to buy and friends to see, the sexual under-current of life patiently waits for you to stop and drink from it. You need to make your “pleasure of self” a priority and be with yourself in a mindful way, as you would inside the yoga studio or during a meditation. 

Abby’s self-pleasure practice isn’t defined by a particular set of rules and never stays the same. She prefers to go with the flow, she says, and give her body over to what it communicates it needs, in the moment. This can range from movement to mirror eye gazing, simply closing her eyes, “belting out a chant” or spending time with her Red Jasper crystal pleasure wand. 

Danni Rocha, a yoga teacher based in Queensland, has a more defined practice. She begins with a shower and then lathers herself with fragrant oil, massaging her entire body in circular motions from her neck to her breasts and along her thighs, eventually leading to her “Yoni” — the Sanskrit word for source, womb and vagina. 

Danni recently moved into a caravan with her partner and child and, without the privacy she once had, her self-pleasure practice shifted to yoga infused with sensual dance. “Self-pleasure will continually flux and change with your needs and the tide of life,” says Danni. “It is not how you connect to Eros that matters, but simply that you do.”

The need to connect to oneself is one of the many reasons women seek out Karlyn Digitalis, a Byron Bay-based Yoni Mapping therapist. Karlyn says the most common problem among her clients is the feeling they are disconnected from their Yoni, as though it is separate to themselves, like an artificial limb. “After a session, they realise their Yoni is a part of them and they feel a sense of wholeness that they didn’t have before.”

Karlyn educates women about the erogenous zones — the clitoris, the G spot, the A spot and cervix — and helps women get to know the unique pleasure print of their body. “Every woman has her own neural pleasure pathway, so a zone that works for one woman might not work for another. One might get the most pleasure from her A spot and not her G-spot,” she explains. Karlyn recommends exploring your own body to discover what works for you.

Many of Karlyn’s clients come to her with bodily shame and sexual disconnection. “If a person doesn’t like themselves, if they believe they are unworthy or unattractive, they will have a hard time going into a deep connected pleasure within themselves. We have had years of societal, cultural and religious conditioning where genitals, sexual activity and masturbation have been deemed disgusting and wrong,” she says. “There are pressures of how we think we’re supposed to look and how we feel about our vulvas. Then there can be emotional trauma, abuse, physical injuries, giving birth and medications — things that aren’t sexual but can impact the ability to experience physical self-pleasure.” Karlyn helps her clients unearth these blocks and find appropriate ways to heal them so they can reconnect with their bodies as a source of pleasure and power.

Hilde Atlanta created The Vulva Gallery, an online platform that has published more than 140 vulva portraits and personal stories of real women to help combat self-image issues and shift the way women view their bodies. “As a teenager, I used to feel extremely self-conscious about my external flaps and I contemplated surgery,” says Danni. But through her self-pleasure journey, Danni has learnt to appreciate her Yoni; “I love my temple for all of its uniqueness and honour it for being a portal into the world.”

Diving into the sacred well of pleasure is powerful, but it takes courage to work through the more confronting and uncomfortable aspects of your journey. “I was forced to face aspects of myself that I had been running away from,” says Abby, who struggled with feelings of unworthiness that she tried to mask with an addiction to busyness. “I also had a fear of intimacy and was afraid of connecting to others, because I had never truly connected to myself,” she says. 

Part of your self-pleasure journey is to face up to the things that no longer work for you and to have the courage to discard them. Devote time to learning what you enjoy, both in and out of the bedroom; listen to your body and give it what it needs. Only by cultivating an intimate relationship with yourself will you be able to connect to self-pleasure. So nourish your pleasure landscape daily and allow yourself to come back to your body.


Gabriella Andrews is a Melbourne-based freelance writer specialising in spirituality, sexuality, feminism and mental health.