If you think Naked Yoga Therapy is simply stripping off your clothes and doing yoga, think again. Founder Candice Leigh uses her expertise as a sexological bodyworker, somatic sex educator, intimacy coach, yogini and Tantrika, plus a variety of other therapy techniques, to "tailor" her healing modality to where you are and what you need. "Naked" refers to that vulnerable state of being "real, raw and truthful" that allows you to get your true essence and free yourself of the masks we wear as we move through the world.
"Naked Yoga Therapy strips us of these masks in the interest of deeply healing our mind, body, heart and soul," she says. "Naked Yoga Therapy allows you to be seen and witnessed without judgment, freedom to be whomever you are in any given moment, embraced exactly as you are and encouraged to make meaningful and impacting changes to allow for more freedom, self love, sensuality and spaciousness in life."
Along with coaching individuals and couples privately, Candice can be found in NYC teaching yoga, breathwork, intimacy workshops and more. She was nice enough to chat (almost) all things Naked Yoga Therapy with us.
How does your practice help women take better ownership or control over their feminine or sexual power? And what does that look like?
Candice Leigh Embracing feminine power combines a few things. Usually, taking control and ownership of any healing from the past that needs to be done, whether it be trauma, shame, guilt and diving deep into the engrained stories of how and why those somatic, or bodily stored, memories got there.
"Some of the most intimate, gorgeous and truly and fully embodied pleasurable moments with partners or even myself included some element of crying, screaming, sounding, moaning in ecstasy, expressing it ALL." — Candice Leigh
The route to healing requires a very powerful embrace of the totality of emotions such as rage and anger, sadness and grief, coming back to worthiness and feeling everything that was first not embraced and ownership of their true feminine power. Healing these things NOT in an intellectual way, but a powerful, full-bodied, enlivened way. Another aspect of this is feeling and embracing pleasure in their bodies, deeply accepting their bodies, loving themselves, moving with pleasure and embracing their creativity. The way I see it is... healing and releasing must happen first... then adding in pleasure and joy. Boundaries, discernment and trusting the feminine intuition are all very much a part of this ongoing process of empowered living as well.
Love this quote of yours: “There’s no feeling or circumstance too big, powerful or overwhelming to get in the way of lovemaking... self-pleasure or partnered.” How can we use all of our emotions to slip into our sexual, creative or spiritual flow state through lovemaking?
Candice Leigh I think life stops when we stop interacting with it in a deep and genuine way, and the first way we do that is by not feeling, avoiding, shutting down and closing off. What happens when we avoid feeling and expression... especially the “negative” emotions... is that we numb and cut ourselves off to the positive emotions, too. We block ourselves in both directions. Feeling it ALL is how we can actually stay most alive and embracing the duality of life, which is by definition tantra and how we can stay in the magical flow of true living. I feel most creative when I express my emotions, but don’t drown in them. Touch them, feel them, let them flow through, but really working to also break mental patterns that get stuck in the mental loops.
"Bodies are wise and very intelligent. Most people just need a container to find all of this out themselves and someone to ask the right questions and offer the right suggestions." — Candice Leigh
Staying more present to the present moment, present moment sensation, breath, meditation and yoga can be a way out of this patterning. I think people avoid having sex with a partner or themselves when they are waiting to finally feel comfortable in their bodies or think they need to be in a certain great mood to embrace intimacy. Some of the most intimate, gorgeous and truly and fully embodied pleasurable moments with partners or even myself included some element of crying, screaming, sounding, moaning in ecstasy, expressing it ALL. Sex and intimacy can be deeply healing and if we allow ourselves to expand the definition of “what is allowed or permissible” with self-pleasure or pleasure with a partner... we may find the exact space or container to fully let our truest selves be expressed... and thus seen. It’s vulnerable... and worth it.
How does Naked Yoga Therapy (and other aspects of your methodology) help us trust our bodies more so we’re guided to create the embodied magic you speak about?
Candice Leigh We learn to trust our bodies by having embodied experiences and feeling for OURSELVES what works and what doesn’t.
I use a bit of everything that I know and have felt that has worked for me. I honestly cannot and do not want to imagine my life without some of the healing modalities that I have found and have found that worked. One of my favorite ways to describe all of this is by using the definition of chaos magick.
"...to explore... sometimes that means shifting and moving boundaries around. Non-negotiable boundaries are one thing and flexible/movable boundaries are another. First, know each of these for yourself." — Candice Leigh
Chaos magick is a practice that involves using mixed modalities, pieces of various religions, tools of divination and unsubscribing to any ONE way of doing things. I imagine it as polytheism on steroids and instead of playing with ways of thinking and religion... it’s playing with various modalities and nothing needs to be left out. Another principle in chaos magick is that we must change our minds. Regularly and often. To dismiss things we thought we knew to embrace new studies, practices and forms. So if everything is welcome... then anything can happen and if anything can happen... that to me is a magical world. In the context of healing, growing, changing... perhaps our healing journeys are the tunnels into more magic.
This is how I most presently define what I do. I combine everything in my life. Yoga, tantra, meditation, wiccan sigil making, following the seasons and rituals of pagan practices, the brilliance of Somatic Experiencing and tools for regulating the nervous system, Sexological Bodywork and knowing anatomy and how the body truly moves, expression through painting, creative writing, plant medicine ceremonies, emotional release tools, traditional talk therapy tools. My own love life probably has provided the most insight and wisdom... more so than any training I’ve taken — so all of those experiences are used in what I teach also and if I don’t share the stories... at the very least... they have colored my world of experiencing complex emotions and thus sharpening my ability for complex empathy.
You talk a lot about exploring different parts of your sexual self from full surrender to D/s borderline lifestyle... what are some of the benefits of exploring or pushing our boundaries in terms of sex — what’s on the other side?
Candice Leigh Great question and quite a delicate question, too. So on one hand, I want to emphasize the importance of boundaries, especially beginning the journey of more sexual exploration. To me, my intuition decides my boundaries which is very different from fear deciding boundaries. Being very clear with one's boundaries and knowing what will not happen and things that aren’t acceptable... so obviously crucial!
After some time, I think exploration becomes important. And to explore... sometimes that means shifting and moving boundaries around. Non-negotiable boundaries are one thing and flexible/movable boundaries are another. First, know each of these for yourself.
What I have found on the other side of pushing my own boundaries — whether that be as a Domme, a submissive, exploring polyamory and various types of non-monogamy... what I have found on the other side is a tremendous amount of growth, creative energy unleashed, figuring out what works and what doesn’t for myself, more creativity and creative choices in sex and relating and to keep the truth nice and balanced... discomfort.
Pushing boundaries and growing usually creates a degree of discomfort. Changing requires some growing pains. And sometimes these dynamics, you may find partners don’t also grow with you. Letting people go, relationships expiring and running their course... obviously hurts. And the deeper you go, feel and jump... it all will be mirrored. Loving fully and deeply... those departures burn and sting. BUT... what greater experience to test your strength, durability, resilience and learn what not to do next time. Don’t make the same mistakes. You can make new mistakes, but not the repeated mistakes — otherwise... that isn’t actually growing.
With all the different aspects of your practice, what are some of the more profound ‘aha’ moments or shifts you’ve seen in clients?
Candice Leigh —Taking more risks in love, sex and relating after being closed off for some time or even their whole lives.
— Working with trauma helps to bring more parts of oneself back and in response I’ve heard a lot of clients feel more grounded, embodied and able to be present.
— Pain evaporates in their bodies when they work through challenges.
— Embracing their desires, kinks and taboo fantasies for the first time after feeling shameful about this part of themselves.
— Deeper connection with their partners, more fulfilled intimate lives.
— More self-acceptance and self-love.
— More adventure, less fear.
— Healing issues such as painful sex, orgasm challenges, ED, PE, etc.
— Feeling their feelings in a deeper, more fully embodied way.
There have been countless stories and hundreds of clients... making thousands of a-ha moments. Bodies are wise and very intelligent. Most people just need a container to find all of this out themselves and someone to ask the right questions and offer the right suggestions.
How did Candice move you or inspire you? Share, please👇 💋