Former yoga instructor and wellness coach Belinda Wiley is channelling her teaching skills to help educate women about sex. Verve sat down with her to find out more.
Belinda studied with Layla Martin, a renowned Los Angeles-based sex and relationship expert whose philosophy combines her Stanford University education with tantric practices learnt over seven years in Thailand. “The teachings merge those ancient practices with neurobiology and holistic therapies,” Belinda says. “It’s about addressing the body—where there is much undiscovered wisdom.”
As well as wisdom, Belinda also understands many women’s bodies hold deeply ingrained traumas that counter their intimate instincts. “I can only speak to my experiences,” she says, “but I think we have been highly conditioned by society around sexuality and what it means to be a woman. When I grew up, there was shaming around women who were sexual—it was okay for the boys!—but for us it was frowned upon. It leads to confusion. We hold that trauma and don’t realise it. It prevents the expression of the whole sexual self, which might be okay in your twenties, but with time things shut down and those blockages are exposed. On top of that is the fight against age.”
The obsession with youth culture, Belinda adds, further compounds the problem.
“I want to get through to women that you don’t have to look a certain way, but you do need to get back in touch with your sexual energy, get it flowing again. It is an energy, and it will make you feel whole. The menopause leads women to feel, quite literally, dried up, that nothing works. But it’s just not true. It’s the old ‘lose it or use it rule!’ There needs to be energy and movement.”
Belinda’s teaching sessions begin with listening. “I ask clients what they want, what they desire,” she says. “We don’t talk about what’s going wrong. Some might express a wish to orgasm or last longer or feel more pleasure. Then I take them through some visualisations, meditations and breathing exercises. I get them to connect with their bodies. Most people don’t know how that feels because they are all up in their heads.”
There’s a common misconception that tantra is “all about sex” but Belinda insists that it concerns “esoteric traditions and breathing” that she interweaves with modern practices. “We do something called ‘connected breathing’,” she continues, “which is different to yogic breathing in that it is open-mouthed. It’s scientifically proven to release stress, while allowing for greater connectivity with the body.”
Though Belinda is happy to meet in person, her sessions are usually conducted via a video call.
“Because the subject is so intimate and personal, people generally feel more at ease discussing it from the safety of their own home. People tell me things that they have never told anyone before, not even their partners. So, I find it a useful system.”
It also means she can attend to clients all over the world. I ask if there is a typical client.
“Everyone is unique, but I am noticing that women of a similar age as me, in long-term relationships, getting in touch. I’m 61, with three adult children and have been married for 35 years. Over time, things change, stresses increase and that ‘vanilla sex’ can take over. Women are bored and don’t know how to speak with their husbands about what they want. I coach them how to do that. It can change your marriage. It certainly changed mine!”
It must make for some interesting dinner party conversations—does your husband get embarrassed?
“I don’t get too explicit about personal things! My friends are always quizzing me about foreplay techniques, eye gazing, and things like that. But my husband’s fine with it. He’s very relaxed. He loves the fact that what I’m doing makes me feel alive. And trust me when I say you will always be desired and treasured when you cultivate aliveness and radiance within yourself. This is the greatest gift a woman can give.”
It’s the culmination of Belinda’s lifelong interest in personal growth, “why people do—or don’t—do what they do”. The recent rise in empowerment movements has also seen many express greater interest in her work. “People are really up for these conversations around sex,” she says. “I feel like no-one’s really talking about it publicly, so that’s what I want to do. It has made such a difference to my life, it is my calling, and I want to share it.”