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We learn how to drive a car. We take cooking and salsa dancing classes. We might hone our communication skills in a weekend course and clear our emotional baggage with a counsellor. And when our backs ache, we get a massage or — join a Pilates class. But who you gonna call if you want to upskill your love life? And, apparently, when they take you from agony to ecstasy, it can feel like a form of mild exorcism.
Nowadays, sexual practitioners are like erotic yoga instructors, just not as public. Experts have taken notice: In her bestseller Vagina: The business is booming, but it's not a trade that you will find in the Yellow Pages. And while sex therapists and sensual bodyworkers have the same goal — increased connection and greater happiness — the former takes a more cerebral approach, while the latter is "somatic", using various forms of touch and breath work, to convey information directly through the body.
It is a form of sex education — but not the fear-based kind from high school focused on preventing disease and pregnancy. And, according to the members of this movement, we are still fumbling around in the dark like teenagers because what we do between the sheets is often goal-oriented or one-sided.
Most Kiwis lose their virginity under the influence of alcohol, and social media increases the pressure to conform or perform from a young age.
We might even be facing an epidemic of sexual dysfunction. The former political activist looks like the lanky vegan type with his long curly hair, soft cotton vest and gentle demeanour, but tucks into a meat pie outside a Grey Lynn, Auckland, bakery, having just come from an osteopathy session. Its intense week-long initiations of 30 people or more have modules of tantra, shamanism and group therapies and are at the forefront of a growing global movement of conscious sexuality that's coming out of the shadows.