Shh... is a new women-only retreat which aims to help you reclaim your sexuality and femininity and find support in sisterhood. Tantric healer and author Kavida Rei went on a taster workshop to find out more...
By Kavida Rei
For over 30 years I've been exploring the far reaches of the world of personal development and spiritual growth. During that time I've been actively researching how to achieve optimum physical health and well-being and most of all, psychological and emotional happiness. So when it comes to workshops, I've been around. I don't frequent them anymore, after all, there's not a lot of spare time when juggling giving sessions as a therapist and facilitating my own Tantra groups and spa retreats. However, having recently met the girls who run Shh..., and being impressed by what they're offering - residential retreats and London classes - I decided to jump in on a women's workshop to find out more.
The surprise was not that I enjoyed it – of course, intimate time with women, away from my regular schedule is always delicious and deeply appreciated – but that I learned so much about my body (and mind) in four hours.
I did a fair bit of rebirthing in the 80s when it was all the rage, and since jumping onto the Tantric path in 2000, I've consistently practised Tantric methods of breathing with beautiful results, so I figured that when it came to breathwork there wasn't much more I needed to learn. How wrong I was!
The workshop space itself was exquisite. The Shh... girls do things with panache and there wasn't a detail overlooked: beautiful blankets, Back Jack chairs for those with dodgy backs, a top-notch sound-system and excellent music throughout the breathing and yoga sessions (anyone who knows me knows that I'm very fussy about my music).
All of the therapists and teachers possess the precious skill of being able to put anyone at ease. Every one of the healing modalities they present is manageable for all levels of fitness. The group consisted of women of all ages and backgrounds, which I find makes a workshop far more interesting an experience. I wasn't bored for a minute.
The first facilitator Aimee guided us into the breathing practice with grace, humour and compassion. Initially, as we began to breathe, there was tiredness to deal with. I wasn't the only one struggling with this issue, which is understandable considering we are hardworking women, juggling lots of balls, and living in London. Just laying down with a blanket made us all want to go to sleep...
After a surge of yawning, I made a decision to dive right into the waves of breathing without resistance at which point two trouble spots in my body, chronic problems that I thought I was stuck with forever, suddenly reached peak-pain intensity. Aimee and her two assistants were giving full attention to every participant in the group and someone appeared every time I needed loving hands on my body. They were always encouraging us to go deeper which gave me great confidence to let go even more into the process.
At one point it felt as if my entire system went 'pop'. I had the physical sensation of diving off a cliff, alongside the realisation that I'd held on to this physiological and emotional pattern since I was in the womb. It was my mother's fear and grief that I'd absorbed at the time. I was born carrying it in my cellular consciousness, and it has stayed with me through my whole life until now, hidden in the darkest corners of my body and psyche.
Of course! It's totally understandable – during womb-time, you are One with your mother. This symbiosis between my mother and myself, her experience transmitted directly through the umbilical cord to me, had contributed to my own difficult experience of giving birth to my sons many years later, leading to two brutal caesarian sections. Clarity came, the pattern was cleared and I was free of the tension at last.
In the Transformational Breathing sessions, they have created an additional strategy, which differentiates this modality from say, re-birthing. Between the breathing cycles, you are taken into a particular vocal and physical release technique. This movement counter-balances the intensity of bodily reactions to the breathing, helping to move the energy through, cleansing the body of stored negative emotions.
A cathartic release came next then tears of relief and understanding. Long-held stiffness in my back, directly in line with my heart chakra let go as if by magic, and finally the two blockages in my chest and pelvis were gone! It felt as if I had a new set of arms and legs - the oxygen was flowing up and down them in a way it probably never has. I could sense the chi moving up and down my entire body in surges...I was suddenly, and unexpectedly blissfully orgasmic.
There was such peace in the group when we came to rest. You could have heard a pin drop, not a muscle was moving.
After a short break we were back on our mats, ready for Yin Yoga. The teacher Emma was such a delight, full of enthusiasm and charisma. Her voice was reassuring and calming throughout the whole practice.
Yin Yoga, as its name suggests, is perfect for women. It's non-competitive and nurturing, feminine and flowing. Enough with the power yoga already. Let the men carry on with Ashtanga if they feel so inclined. It's not good for us girls! We indulge in enough self-deprecation, constantly comparing ourselves to others. I have noticed a desperate lack of support between women in our society. How wonderful that Shh... brings women together in nurturing environments like this so that we can reclaim our sisterhood. The bottom line is - yin yoga feels right. It feels nourishing in a way that working out in a gym simply doesn't.
We were encouraged to stretch to our own point of tension and not into pain. It was reiterated through the process that we were not to 'push' ourselves. Yin Yoga is an internal experience, in which we maintain full awareness in each and every moment, discovering what feels comfortable and right for us, individually. Another enjoyable aspect of the class was that we laughed a lot. Some of us were steadier on our mats than others, but there was no judgement, no one-upmanship, and that is a rare phenomenon these days, in our crazy world of stressing and striving.
I want to thank the whole Shh... team for the delicious space they created in which we all journeyed together. There was safety and love in the room at all times and it seemed to me that by the end of the afternoon, every woman had had a profound personal shift. Everyone I spoke to said they'd be back for the second workshop in a month.
It's incredible what can be achieved in a 4.5-hour class when you have safety, trust and expert teaching. On the Shh...retreats, which are three or six nights long, the small group of participants journey even deeper together, supported by ten fully-qualified therapists. The residential retreats are luxurious to say the least. They are held in opulent surroundings with no comfort overlooked. It can be challenging to look so rigorously inside oneself, unveiling destructive patterns we may have carried, unconsciously all through our lives, but the challenge is made so much more palatable with the large doses of pampering, spa time, gourmet food, and divine massages.
Personally speaking I shall be adding Transformational Breathing to my daily practice and during my stretching routine I shall certainly be more loving towards myself!
As we left the team handed each of us the sweetest 'goody bag' full of treats and after-care information so we could look after ourselves properly, post-workshop. In true SHH... style, they'd thought of everything.
More info and bookings at www.sensualhealingharmony.com.
Kavida Rei's best-selling book: Ultimate Erotic Massage is out now.