“A week of fun, sexy and informative events,” reads an online description of U of T’s Sexual Education Centre’s (SEC) Sexual Awareness Week. With this in mind, The Varsity’s Arts & Culture writers set out to make the most of the occasion, venturing into the worlds of yoga, asexual education, and dirty talk, to varied levels of success.

Yoga and Sexuality

New experiences are always terrifying. Whether it’s learning to drive, trying new food, or merely switching shampoo brands, veering away from your day-to-day routine can be frightening. You find yourself faced with both the anticipation of exploring uncharted personal territory and a nagging fear of the unknown.

Add sweatpants to the mix, and that’s exactly how I felt before trying tantric yoga.

Never having participated in any events hosted by the SEC, I opted to lose my Sexual Awareness Week virginity Tuesday morning by stopping in at Yoga and Sexuality.

Run by yoga instructor and sexual education enthusiast Cordelia Huxtable, Yoga and Sexuality presented me with two unique opportunities that had never been laid (pun intended) before me: first, to get in touch with my sexual energy; and second, to place my body in an assortment of intricate postures in a judgment-free environment.

Huxtable created a calm and supportive environment out of a cramped, hard-floored room. Her soothing guidance was extremely comforting for a beginner, particularly during the more difficult (read: painful) poses. Manipura involved stretching out like a pencil and doing a sustained abdomen crunch, which I managed to achieve with great difficulty. The only position I truly excelled at was Downward Dog, which I attempted with minimal pants-tearing.

Huxtable’s expertise in all things sexy-yoga also made for an academically enriching experience. Throughout the hour-and-a-half session, I learned about the philosophy of Tantra, the seven distinct chakras (energy points on the body), and how these nodes can be stimulated through breathing exercises, meditation, and basic corporeal contortion, in order to perceive, retain, and positively direct one’s own sexual energy. I left feeling mildly sore, yet elated at having tried something new and thrilled at having made a memory. After all, you never forget your first time.

— Daniel Konikoff

Asexy time

“I found out about this on Tumblr,” shared an audience member at the Asexy Time workshop on Tuesday night. The event in question was being run by Ace Toronto, a Toronto-based group that organizes meet-ups for asexual and questioning individuals.

The night covered a wide range of topics, but began by defining the spectrum of asexuality and the challenges of those who identify as such. Terms such as “compulsory sexuality” and “relationship hierarchies” were introduced, and the presenters concluded with a few slides on how to be more ace-friendly, including never assuming someone’s sexuality, regardless of the setting.

The audience was then split into small groups for an activity on how challenges facing ace individuals had affected their own lives. Members of the audience offered up personal stories and the conversation quickly turned to empowerment and consent.

Speakers discussed how sex is not owed by one partner to another, and how empowerment is also about context  — what is empowering for one person may not be for another. No relationship is identical, and partners should be able to opt out of what is generally prescribed. This translates to the nature of the workshop — the presenters say they tailor specifically to each event, making it all about the individual.

— Andrea Macikunas

Let’s Get Sexty!: A Workshop in Sexting and Dirty Talk

It honestly didn’t occur to me that a workshop entitled Dirty Talk might be awkward, until it was. Just like the subject we were there to discuss, a certain amount of this had to do with timing. 11:00 am, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn’t seem to be the time of day when students were jumping to talk about sexting.

The event was held in a small room with an even smaller audience — roughly half a dozen of us sat on couches, quietly listening and not making eye contact. Event coordinator Mariah Ramsawakh sat at the front of the room, addressing us in a fashion that initially felt oddly formal as I found myself having unfortunate flashbacks to high-school-guidance-councillor talks of a similar nature.

The atmosphere got better as time passed, allowing everyone to settle into the room and the conversation. Consent was discussed first — the importance of establishing a mutual want of sexting before sending explicit pictures or messages. One girl shared an anecdote of a friend who never realized that his girlfriend was trying to sext him: “She’d text him, ‘I just got out of the shower,’ and he’d be like, ‘why is she always telling me all this random [stuff] about her day?’”

After an hour or so of discussion, Ramsawakh passed around a brown paper bag and asked us to write down suggestions for how we might start a sexting conversation, emphasizing that the exercise was anonymous and completely voluntary. Responses ranged from “I’m in bed, thinking of you” to “I just bought a new thong today.” One person suggested mentioning listening to Barry White, which provoked laughter from some and confusion from others.

In the end, the workshop felt not unlike trying to sext for the first time — awkward at first, but ultimately a lot of fun.

— Sarah Niedoba