Insiders Guide - Viryam Robertson and Elayne Lane
You don’t have to get naked. You won’t be having sex in a room full of strangers. You don’t even have to be in a relationship to attend a sexuality training workshop with Viryam Robertson and Elayne Lane. They’ll partner you up with someone, but no, that doesn’t make it a date.
Robertson, a registered nurse and yoga teacher who classifies himself as a sacred sexual healer, and Lane, a therapeutic masseuse, lead a weekend training workshop in Wellington. They begin the Wellington session with a public talk Friday night, on masculine and feminine differences and what creates attraction. Go and get orgasmic.
Are you partners?
We’re not. We’re teaching colleagues. We’re running sexual energy training, but we’re not running sexual energy together. We met through a mutual friend about one year ago. It actually gives a message about sexuality, that there are so many possibilities and anyone can attend – partners, singles, friends. There’s no sex per se.
Do you have to be qualified in anything specific to lead these workshops?
We’ve both studied intensively in different schools of sacred sexuality for more than a decade.
What’s the most common reasons someone might take the workshop?
For some it is an awakening after disappointing experiences, others wish to learn ways to manage a high or low sex drive. Some feel shut down and want to get turned on again, others to become more orgasmic. Many want a deeper connection with their partner, or with the kind of partner they would like.
What kinds of problems or inhibitions do you commonly hear or witness?
It’s almost universal that people are working with challenges around self-love, guilt, shame and fear around their sexuality, which reflects wider society. Also, lack of practice in setting boundaries for ourselves and knowing, asking for and getting exactly what we want.
How do you break the ice at workshops?
We ensure that it’s a safe place to explore the full range of our sexual expression, with agreements around respect, safety and confidentiality. Then we use dancing and simple, social, “non-sexual” exercises, which are nonetheless very intimate, to have as much fun together as possible.
Sex can be abused. How can you tell if someone’s taking the workshop for the wrong reasons?
There are clear agreements around respect and appropriate behaviour. People who don’t follow that are asked to leave.
What’s something that’s commonly misunderstood about sex?
We should know how to do it automatically. Actually, we learn by experience. Many people think they have the right or ideal formula to be a wonderful lover, when actually their body is continually changing, as is that of our partner.
Why are so many people embarrassed about sex?
People are conditioned to be ashamed about their bodies and the way they sexually express themselves. That hinders people fully expressing their emotions, needs and desires.
Are New Zealanders more inhibited than other cultures?
Across all cultures people experience disempowerment around their sexuality.
Tantric sex and the Kama Sutra are Indian – Is this a country that gets it right? Are there any other cultures you draw on for information, inspiration or techniques?
India’s sacred sexual tradition, like its martial arts and yoga, was suppressed by centuries of domination by Muslim and British rulers. We also draw from Native American Indian traditions and “bedroom arts” from ancient China.
How could society be more open about sex?
We can benefit by being taught by specialists as opposed to accidentally from books, pornography or television. Our courses are for people beginning their sexual journey and those wishing to develop even more.
Pure Wellbeing, 7pm, May 25, www.sexualitynz.com.