So… how’s your anus doing? Many of us don’t usually think about our hardworking behind unless we’re on the toilet, and sometimes not even then. But this neglected and much-maligned part of the body is quite literally the root of ourselves, and it has a lot to tell us – about pleasure, health, and even our emotional wellbeing.
For knowledge and guidance about hands-on ways to access the wisdom of the rosebud, we were delighted to speak with Rahi Chun – Somatic Sex Educator, Sexological Bodyworker, Life Coach, M.A. in Spiritual Psychology, and host of the podcast Organic Sexuality. Be sure to follow Rahi on Instagram for more.
Foria: What does a sexological bodyworker do?
Rahi Chun: Sexological bodyworkers are trained and certified to bring a somatic and proprioceptive awareness to a client's body, specifically in their awareness of their arousal and pleasure patterns. So we're really empowering the client to be sovereign, and understand their arousal, pleasure, anatomy, behaviors and consent, in order for them to be empowered and as embodied as possible in their sexuality – with themselves, and with anybody else.
So let’s dive in with a really basic understanding – what is anal massage?
It's a basic question, but the answer can really be multifaceted. As a sexological body worker, I believe that anal massage can address us on virtually every level. Certainly the health level, in understanding our pleasure anatomy; certainly in our proprioceptive level, by bringing awareness and sensation to a part of the body that a lot of us are disconnected from. Certainly on a psychological level, and the emotional level as well, because there's so much shame involved, and a lot of unintegrated memories and trauma are held in this part of the body.
And then I'd say also on the spiritual level. Not to get too philosophical about it, but I think we carry a lot of shadowy, unconscious material in parts of the body that we feel shameful about or want to disconnect from. If you want to be whole, and feel accepting of all of who you are, it's offering a treasure of material to explore. So there are so many benefits to anal massage. There could be a library of how much benefit there is on so many levels.
You're touching on so many important things – the nervous system, emotional biomechanics, all the things that we look at from a functional, holistic perspective. So how does massaging the anus address some of those aspects?
Imagine one of the most innervated areas of the body hardly getting any attention, except for our bowel movements. How is it that one of the most potentially pleasurable parts of the body is really neglected?
if I don't use my hand, I'm not going to feel my hand. If I'm not going to use my foot. I'm not going to feel the sensations that it's designed to feel. And it's no different with the anus. There’s gonna be some pleasure with bowel movements for some people, and maybe they derive sensation when they're wiping themselves. But that's barely skating the surface.
Conscious, present anal massage is extraordinary for waking up your body’s sensations, for giving you access to feeling what your body is designed to feel.
If you think about it, nature doesn't make mistakes. The body is so intelligent; it's not going to randomly create the most innervated part of the body for pleasure for no reason at all. So to wake up the nerves, we have to be intentional and conscious about it.
Because we know that past stored memories, unintegrated emotions, and certainly trauma are stored in the body, it gives us a gateway to resolve so many unintegrated issues.
When you want to talk about the nervous system, the smooth muscle in the internal sphincter is one of the very few ways to access the vagus nerve and downregulate the nervous system. The smooth muscle responds involuntarily, and it's part of what's called the autonomic nervous system. There's very few ways to access that, but the internal sphincter is actually one way.
I have some clients who will start falling asleep in the middle of a massage because they get so relaxed. It's a gateway and an access point for very unique portals of healing, of pleasure, of downregulating the nervous system, of resolving past trauma. Obviously it's a root chakra. So that comes with issues of survival and fear of death. And all of these things that can be consciously addressed with the very simple and wonderful practice of anal massage.
Most people don't know the anatomy of the anal sphincters – plural. Could you walk us through a basic understanding of the sphincters and why they're important?
I want to start by saying it's really one end of a long esophageal tube. Our anus is one end and our mouth is the other. And because they're both major orifices, they will contract and hold in when we’re feeling threatened in some way. When we feel like speaking our truth is going to be threatened, we contract our throat. That's going to show up in our anus as well. And when we have anxiety or we feel stressed, that affects our digestive system.
And then a little bit about the anatomy – there's the external sphincter, which in some circles is also called the “rosebud”, which is a poetic description. So it's part of our sacred garden to explore. It's beautiful! Again, it's a very highly innervated part of the body. And it's not just the sphincter itself that's highly innervated. The area around it, anywhere between the sit bones to the anus, underneath that soft, fleshy part of the muscle – the innervation spreads through that as well.
That's why, when we do anal massage for pleasure, and we include the genitalia, one will stimulate the other. Stimulating the anal nerves will bring pleasure to the genitalia and vice versa, because these nerves are all interwoven through the fascia and musculature of the pelvic bowl.
Then there's an area I call the ridge, about half an inch where the muscles of the internal sphincter overlap with the external sphincter. And then there's the soft muscle of the internal sphincter. Not only is it a way to access our autonomic nervous system, to downregulate the nervous system, which benefits the whole body, but you can actually stimulate the female perineal sponge and posterior spots through that soft muscle.
You can also access the G spot, because it's very malleable. And then for a male body, you can stimulate the base of the penis and then certainly at the very end you can stimulate the prostate as well.
We'd love for people who are reading this to practice at home and start exploring with their bodies or with their partners’. What are some of the must-have tools for anal massage, besides a body and a hand?
I’m a big advocate for creating a sacred space, whatever that means for the person. Whether it's candles or soothing music, or just an ambience. Even if you're just exploring your own body, it's a date night with yourself, essentially. And then you want a comfortable space. You want your nails to be nicely trimmed. You want lube of some kind. And, I think most of all, you want to bring your presence and an open mind.
Let’s walk through some basic techniques, and ways that people can get started exploring either their own body or their partner’s.
Sure, so let's start with a partner. Just as far as the practical stuff, you and your partner can have a date night. And I really recommend starting an anal massage by giving a full-body massage. It can be as sensual as your partner wants it to be. This really relaxes and downregulates the whole nervous system, and all of the interconnected musculature.
Now, this is really important. Because for most people, the anus has a fair amount of tension and anxiety stored there to begin with. As we relax the back muscles, and really the whole nervous system, it's going to relax the sphincters as well. So start with a full-body sensual massage, or whatever kind of massage the receiver wants.
And then gradually focus on getting closer to the rosebud. You want to massage the lower back, the upper legs, the thighs, and then really spend time massaging the glutes. There are three layers of very thick muscles in the glutes, and they're all interconnected with the sphincters. So we want to relax those.
And then, when and only when the glutes are ready, and you want to check in with your partner, make your way towards the crack because there's so much sensitivity there. Anywhere from the tailbone to the perineum really, just bringing sensation. Sometimes it's just bringing the edge of your hand there and making contact. It could just be bringing your fingers there, because for a lot of people, they've never had that most intimate, vulnerable part of their body touched that way since they had their diaper changed, or since they were potty trained.
So just getting re-connected and re-intimate with that part of the body. And then you want to vary your strokes, to wake up the nerve endings. So you know, whether that's like, kind of spidery strokes with your fingers, whether it's like, sliding the whole arm up the crack, or bringing the elbow to the Rosebud - just variety to stimulate and wake up the neighborhood.
So if there's a mantra, it would be “relax and awaken”. All touch and all massage is designed to relax and awaken. And when you've done that, check in with your partner to see if their rosebud is ready to make contact. I would recommend the lightest touch in a circle around the external sphincter, in a bigger circumference, and then slowly make it smaller and smaller.
The lighter the touch, it can draw blood to the area, which will increase sensation. It will also give you a sense of how numb or sensitized the sphincter is. Some people are very numb and you need to apply a fair amount of pressure.
And then I'm a really big fan of just your presence, just having a finger there or a thumb there, so the receiver can just feel that part of the body. Breathe together, breathe in sync, because that will support their nervous system, and their nervous system will feel supported.
The next stage after that is to actually massage the sphincter. You want to use a lot of lube, because it should be silky, gliding and pleasurable. And I like twiddling the thumbs, on the external sphincter, or you can stroke in opposing directions, one thumb towards the tailbone, one thumb towards the perineum. And again, variety. You can vary the pressure, you can do doorbell pulses, but not going in. Right now we're just waking up, and bringing blood to that external sphincter.
For a first session, I would say just do the external. And maybe their external sphincter just wants that for a week, or a month, or for however long. Honestly, and this is the trickiest thing, the sphincter will let you know when it's ready. It'll actually suck your finger in. You never want to force.
What should the person giving the massage pay attention to in their partner's body, outside of the sphincter, to make sure that that person is feeling really relaxed?
That's probably the most important question. If you're working with a partner, I would really want to know if there's been any history of trauma. Certainly non-consensual penetration of any kind, or even shaming during potty training. Something of that sort can create a lot of tension. So you want to know the history of trauma and emotions that may be stuck there.
And then it’s all about empowering the receiver, and encouraging them. And it's not enough to encourage them to give their consent. You need to really make sure that you check in, because if it's someone with a history of trauma, they could freeze and not have the capacity to voice their consent.
So you want to continually check in about pressure, about sensation, are they in their body, and if at any point they can't respond, or there's reluctance or hesitation, you want to gently withdraw and just breathe with them so they can come back to their body and feel safe.
So what we're doing, especially for people who have had trauma, is we’re imprinting a new story with that part of the body, where they're empowered and their voice matters. And then, when it comes to pleasure, some people don't like to talk. It gets them out of their body.
Encourage them to express externally what they're feeling internally. And that may come from heavy sighs, or moans. That's plenty if you can read that as a giver. Then follow those cues – like a deep sigh or a moan is a yes. And then if they haven't moaned or sighed for a while, you want to check in.
My last question is for a person who is receiving anal massage. What are some suggestions you would have for them? What should they be paying attention to in their body?
That's a great question. So for receivers, it would be great to do an inventory of their relationship with their anus before receiving this kind of very vulnerable, intimate contact. What was their experience? What is their experience with their anus? Is there shame? Do they think it's dirty? Where do these ideas come from? Was it from potty training? Was it from diaper changing? Were their parents in such a rush that it was a nuisance to change their diapers? All these things affect our relationship with our genitalia and our anus.
Then once you have that self-inventory, the most important thing for the receiver is to make sure that they are embodied and present with their body sensations as they are receiving. So while you're receiving make sure you're breathing deeply, you're breathing into the sensations. Make sure that you're feeling what your body is feeling. At any moment when you feel yourself going into your head or leaving your body, have a safe word, or tapping on the table, or some way to indicate to the giver to pause, or to slow down or to stop.
And this isn't a performance, this is an exploration. There's no goal to get to; it's not about orgasm, or having an anal orgasm, or any of that. It's really about deepening a self-awareness and intimacy with this very vulnerable, most intimate part of the body that has just gotten a bad rap.
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