Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Interview with Juliet of Yoni Eggs!

Juliet and one of her gift boxes.
Image source: Juliet Terblanche.
Recently, I came across South African retailer Yoni Eggs South Africa and their gorgeous vaginal eggs made from semi-precious stones. You might have heard of the concept before -- concubines used to swear by jade eggs and their ability to improve pelvic floor strength, increase sexual prowess and supposedly balance hormones -- but personally, I hadn't realised that they were available in South Africa. At this blog, we love talking about local retailers and makers of sensual products, so I reached out to founder Juliet Terblanche for a crash course in Yoni Eggs.

This interview has been edited only for brevity and clarity.

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Firstly, your website is called "Yoni Eggs." For those that are unfamiliar with the term, what does the word "yoni" mean to you?

Yoni is a Sanskrit word that literally translates as "sacred space" but is most commonly used to mean vagina or womb. Yoni also has a wider interpretation of meaning "female creative force" or "creative power of nature." It's a word I like a lot, in all of its interpretations.  

What drew you to the jade egg practice? How has it affected you since you started?

I came across some material by holistic sex and relationship coach, Kim Anami -- someone whose work I have come to respect enormously. I was looking for a way to heal the all-too-common rift that is created between our psyches and our sexuality by "domestication" of our wilder natures and the programming around sexuality by society in general. The jade egg spoke strongly to this disconnect within myself. Since I have started my practice I am now slowly but surely starting to heal this rift. There's still some way to go but a regular jade egg practice as well as the teachers and places it has led me to since starting out on this path are my way back to being able to be fully present and here in my totality. 

Do you find the SA market is open to this sort of 'alternative' practice?
Image source: Juliet Terblanche.

It may be surprising to hear that jade eggs have been extremely well received here - regardless of how "alternative" this practice may seem. Women are growing increasingly disillusioned with handing over their sexual and reproductive health to mainstream medicine -- the majority of whom don't have any proper understanding of what they are dealing with or how to go about doing so. The solutions women are offered by mainstream medicine -- drugs or surgery -- just don't work satisfactorily and, just as in other areas of health, women are starting to look for alternatives.  

How is working with a jade egg different to using regular kegel exercisers (such as the weighted kegel balls)?

Well, for a start they are made from semi-precious stones -- each with their own healing vibration and intelligence of their own. I also personally much prefer having a natural material inside my body rather than silicone or plastic. In addition, a yoni egg practice is exactly that - a practice akin to yoga that encompasses a lot more than just putting an object inside the vagina and doing a few exercises. When properly done it is a far deeper and more holistic way of building pelvic strength than any other kegel exerciser. Plus, it concentrates on building sensitivity and dexterity, as well as removing sexual blocks and all of the emotional healing that comes with that. 

Many practitioners claim that using a jade egg is helpful for healing from sexual trauma. This is of particular interest to me and, I'm sure, many others. Why do you feel that jade eggs are particularly useful with this kind of recovery?

My belief is that this benefit comes about mainly from the focus and attention suddenly being given to an area of the body that was shut down due to sexual trauma (and [here] I include sexual abuse, sexual shaming, "domestication", miscarriage, abortion or a difficult childbirth). When we can't cope with or don't understand something that is happening to us the energy/memory of that gets stored in our cells (cellular memory) and, in the case of sexual trauma, this naturally happens in our pelvic area. As a result, many women find buried sexual trauma will resurface during a jade egg practice. For those women it can be useful for them to find a therapist who can help them through this process (ie those particularly well-versed when dealing with sexual trauma and sexuality issues in general). Using a yoni egg also activates various reflexology points inside the vagina. Part of the practice involves discovering where the sensitive points inside the vagina lie as this gives us a clue as to the nature of the issue we are dealing with (ie - liver point = anger, kidney point = fear, etc). In other cases the vagina/cervix may just feel numb, meaning the body has shut down in order to "numb out" the trauma it has experienced. A lot of "de-armouring" of the vagina and cervix can be done using a jade egg and/or crystal wand or dildo - simply by finding those points that are numb (or painful) and pressing into them rather than shying away from them. Wonderfully healing. Just remember to B-R-E-A-T-H-E whilst doing so! "Tapping" or EFT can also help with memories of sexual trauma and is recommended as an adjunct to a regular jade egg practice.   
Image source: Juliet Terblanche.

Gwyneth Paltrow recently came under fire from a gynaecologist who claimed that jade eggs are unsafe because the stone is porous (therefore a bacteria trap), and that the pelvic floor muscles aren't meant to contract for a long period of time. Can you weigh in on the veracity of this criticism?

Wow, there is SO much I could say on this... and have done so already in fact! To address the particular points you raise from the article in question, any good jade egg teacher will emphasise the importance of the softening and relaxing part of the practice, rather than just concentrating on the tightening/strengthening part. As well as the importance of doing a short, focussed practice of 15-30 minutes rather than just putting your jade egg in and forgetting about it. Which Dr Gunter (the gynae making the criticisms) would have known had she actually done any research. As for the point re. jade eggs being porous and a bacteria trap, this is such nonsense. First of all, many far more potentially bacteria-laden and porous articles are put into our vaginas without a second thought - think penises, hands and sex toys! I don't know about you - but I have never asked my partner to sterilise his penis before putting it inside my vagina! And so far, so good! It is worth remembering that our vaginas are intelligent, self-cleansing organs, that know what to do with a bit of bacteria should it be presented to them. Secondly, the only items that have ever brought about Toxic Shock Syndrome are synthetic tampons - and there's a scientific paper here from the Yale Medicine Journal to prove that. In short, Dr Gunter -- and all the media who ran with this story -- have ridiculed and shamed any woman who takes control of their sexual sovereignty in this way, and THAT is the real issue here.

Lastly, SA is often stereotyped as being 'conservative.' Can you tell me more about your customers and what it's like to be an indie sexual wellness retailer here?

It's hard to say who my customers are. I think they are a wide cross-section of SA society. All races, and often those interested in holistic health already; but also those women who just know that the conventional manner of dealing with sexual and pelvic health don't actually work and who are looking for an alternative. They are women who believe in their own sexual sovereignty and who are tired of handing over control of their sexual and pelvic health to gynaecologists who generally just do not have enough understanding to be able to offer gentle, non-invasive but super-effective, self-responsibility healing options to their clients. Having said that, for sure I do sometimes come across super-conservative attitudes towards sexuality, but generally I seem to attract the opposite. Overall I think the tide is turning. As for being an indie sexual wellness retailer here, I love it! I love the conversations I have with people (men and women) and just how talking about sexuality heals everyone in that conversation as well as taking us deep into our psyches and the incredible insights and connections that are possible in that space. This is the time for healing the relationship to our sexuality and people are showing up in droves in order to do just that, "conservative" society that we live in or not.
 
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I really enjoyed Juliet's honest feedback on the ethos behind her beautiful products! Maybe it's the secret hippie in me, but sensual items made out of crystal are so incredibly appealing. While some might not agree with everything encompassed by the vaguely 'esoteric' aura surrounding jade egg practise, even cynics can't deny that they can be much prettier than 'traditional' sex toy materials. Personally, I think these sexual wellness aids are gorgeous, and made all the more valuable by the fact that they are backed up with a community that encourages its fellow practitioners to explore their sexuality in a loving, holistic way. Hopefully one day I'll be able to try jade egg practise myself. (Update: I did!)

Visit Juliet and check out her crystal eggs at the links below!

Website  ♡  Facebook

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