My body and I have certainly been on a journey together these past 31 years.
From partying through Europe as a backpacker, learning what not to eat in Turkey, discovering tantra yoga to surviving a tropical fever while living in the jungle of Costa Rica -- we've been through a lot.
It didn't come easily, but I'm grateful for the love and connection I've learned to have with my body. Being 'in my body', loving it and understanding it has changed my life.
I now teach women about feeling connected to their bodies and how they function every single day and I'm rewarded by seeing their lives changed for the better too.
This is what I wish I'd know about my body when I was 19.
1. My body has deeper wisdom than my mind.
My mind and my body aren't always in agreement, but I've learned that my body has wisdom that should be trusted.
"Gut feeling" doesn't quite capture the depth of this wisdom -- if I really stop and feel it talks to me in other ways as well. My body tells me things through feelings on my skin, tightness, illness, tiredness, by feeling heavy or feeling light, by feeling open or closed.
This wisdom sometimes doesn't make sense to my mind, but I've learned there's incredible value in listening to it.
2. It's never too late to say no.
I wish I'd known, really known, when I was 19 that I decide who touches my body, when and where. I wish I'd understood that it's never too late to say no. Saying no doesn't make me insensitive or "a tease".
I never owe anyone anything when it comes to sharing my body. I don't need to have a reason that it doesn't feel right, I don't need to worry about hurting someone's feelings. I can just say no.
3. My body is always on my side.
Realizing this changed how I treated my body forever. I stopped pushing my body in ways that weren't healthy. I've stopped seeing my body as something to use and abuse.
I've learned to listen, to pay attention to what my body is telling me through pain and tiredness. If my skin is breaking out, it's my body telling me that something I'm eating isn't agreeing with me. If I'm struggling to get out of bed, it's usually my body telling me that I'm not heading in the right direction.
What can feel like my body holding me back is actually my body telling me something important.
4. Every body is uniquely beautiful.
I spent decades of my life disliking the way my body looked. My journey with tantra yoga in my mid '20s finally taught me how to love my body. I felt more confident, I felt happier, I had better relationships.
As I began to love my body, I had this reflected from the outside world too. I realized that it is not how I look, but how I feel about myself that makes me sexy and attractive to others.
5. It's okay to allow my body pleasure.
Enjoying my body is nothing to be ashamed of.
For many years I held myself back in bed, worried about what someone would think of me if I enjoyed myself "too much". Gratefully, I've learned that what my lovers want most if for me to really enjoy myself.
Whether it's food, sex or laughing out loud, I don't need to hold myself back. Life is short; it's here to be enjoyed. My body is here to be enjoyed too.
6. My body knows exactly what it wants -- I just need to learn to listen.
My body knows what it wants and it will always move towards pleasure if I listen to it. I don't need to follow a learn special techniques in the bedroom, I just need to learn to listen to my body - and have the courage to follow it.