A yoni massage is a type of tantric touch that isn’t about sex or orgasm. In Sanskrit, yoni directly translates to “sacred portal” and is the word used for vulva or vagina.
How Vaginal Mapping Can Be a Part of Your Sexual Healing
This practice is about slowing down, deep breathing, and connecting with your body through exploration. Yoni massage is often described by experts as a kind of sexual therapy for the body, in which people can find release, healing, and pain relief.
Trauma is not a singular moment that happens, it is the body's response, often feeling like a shapeshifting monster that lives inside our bones.
While talk therapy and support groups provide an incredible resource for people who have experienced sexual assault — bodies can hold onto memories and trauma long after being mentally processed. Somatic work, such as yoni massage, opens a new pathway of healing for survivors of sexual assault.
While yoni is often narrowly defined in modern wellness communities to focus on cis-women, our understanding is broad to include non-binary people, trans men, and trans women.
For people with a penis, vaginal mapping can be practiced on the inguinal canals or anus to “help restore blood flow and sensation as well as release trauma,” says Tantra and Intimacy Coach, Mackensey Alexander. Those who don’t identify with the term yoni may opt for different verbiage such as genital tantric massage.
The different techniques used for a yoni massage are called “mudras” by experts. However, instead of getting bogged down by terminology or specifics, Alexander recommends tapping into your body wisdom.
“Play around with different types of touch, i.e. deep tissues massage, circles, up and down strokes, light pinches, tickles on the labia, slow massage around the opening of the vagina, gentle slaps,” she says. “All of these different styles of touch help to restore sensation and bring blood flow to the yoni.”
These techniques apply to external stimulation and massage. It can be helpful to use a body-safe oil to massage your stomach and thighs before moving to the genitals. This process is about slowing down and relishing in the release.
For internal work, Alexander offers vaginal mapping or yoni de-armoring as a technique. Using an ample amount of lube during this step is helpful, especially if you are experiencing vaginal pain.
“Begin to feel around for any spots of tension, pain, or numbness. Apply pressure in these areas, gentle at first, but leaning into your pain edge,” Alexander explains. “Areas that commonly need de-armoring are the entrance to the vagina, the G-spot, and cervix, but every body is different. Hold each spot for 30 to 90 seconds, continuing to breathe and express any emotions or sounds that arise.”
She laments the importance of breathing and using your voice to release throughout the process. This type of healing can be done in one session or you can focus on a singular tension point for an entire session. However, yoni massage works best when you practice continually, especially if you are working through trauma.
Read: A Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating Consent
Vaginal Mapping as Sexual Healing
Beyond emotional trauma such as PDST, anxiety, or depression — sexual assault can result in physical pain such as vaginismus, vulvodynia, or fibromyalgia. “Even though you might not be consciously aware of the stress or trauma you carry in your body, over time it can lead to pelvic pain, vaginal numbness, tension, and irritation,” says Alexander. “Focusing on releasing the built-up stress in your body allows space for more blood flow and sensation and therefore, more pleasure!”
The importance of breath and vocal release during a yoni massage is vital, they allow you to strengthen the connection with your sexual energy. Alexander recommends asking your body for consent before penetration for vaginal mapping as it helps build a sense of trust and safety.
You may find there are times your body intrinsically desires penetration during the massage and other times it does not. This work of reestablishing trust through self-consent can be incredibly healing for survivors who struggle to talk about their desires.
The result of a yoni massage often comes in the form of immense release of painful emotions or trauma held in genital tissue. “At the end of your yoni massage, whether you practiced solo or were the receiver, it is a great idea to place your hands on your body and rest with yourself,” recommends Alexander. “Ask yourself what you need.”
You can journal about the experience, make some tea, cuddle a pet or stuffed animal, give yourself a hug, call a friend, or take a bath. Providing yourself aftercare allows for a soft closing ritual to this experience which can rupture deep wounds.
Read: 5 Tips For Practicing Intentional Aftercare
How to Give Yourself a Yoni Massage
Before settling down to give yourself a yoni massage, take a moment to set the mood for yourself. Light a candle, drink some tea, make your bed with clean sheets, and have your oil/lube ready — anything that will enhance your comfort level.
Start by focusing on taking deep breaths and resting your hands on your body — this allows you to tune into any sensations arising and listening to what your body needs from you.
After gently massaging your stomach, thighs, and vulva in large circles, Alexander says to begin focusing on your mons pubis and labia.
“The most important part is to remember to breathe. Breathing in combination with physical touch helps to alleviate tension from the body,” says Alexander. “Take your time. It is important to not rush through the process, but rather really focus on any subtle sensations, emotions arising or places of tension you feel around your pubic bone or in your tissues.”
This is an explorative process that can last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes using the techniques above. While the goal of a yoni massage is not orgasm, it could come naturally from the experience.
“Pleasure is such good medicine for your nervous system. It’s a great way to finish your yoni massage, especially if you’ve released trauma or heavy emotions,” says Alexander.
If you are adding internal massage to your practice, toys may enhance the experience. Pelvic floor wands focus on releasing specific trigger points, Alexander recommends Intimate Rose.
Going to a Tantric Professional
Some people may find it challenging to relax and receive while giving themselves a yoni massage — going to a tantric professional is another option. These sessions focus on deep tissue massage and myofascial internal and external release.
“When I give yoni massages my focus is on holding space for my client to have a deeply connective experience with their own body and sexuality,” says Alexander. “Receiving a yoni massage is a great way to practice using your voice, helping you to feel more comfortable navigating consent and communication during a connection practice.”
You can talk to a practitioner beforehand about what you are hoping to get out of your experience and any specific points of release you are wanting to prioritize. Feeling safe and at ease with a tantric professional is vital prior to receiving a yoni massage.
Corinne Kai is a writer and educator on all things sexual healing through pleasure. Their work centers consent based education that is shame free, LGBTQ prioritized, healing centric, and pleasure inclusive.