Celebrating Women’s Sexuality
By Virginia Kaufmann
“Sex is a natural function. You can’t make it happen, but you can teach people to let it happen” . ~Dr William H. Masters
Recently, for the purpose of this interview, I had the pleasure of meeting Heather Cohen and Robin Fann-Costanzo, co-creators of Feel The Vibe, based here in Asheville. Though otherwise our paths might not have crossed, I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet them. As I would soon discover, they are truly dedicated to helping women and, by extension, the greater community. According to Robin, “We strive to empower women to be pro-active around their bodies and sexual health. If women are encouraged to embrace their bodies and sexuality, then there is the opportunity to create intimacy with a partner, and loving, honest relationships with themselves, their families and their communities.”
As a teenager in the early 70s, a friend and I discovered her sister’s book called “The Art of Sensual Massage.” When we came across it, it was as if we had found a hidden cache of forbidden fruit. Though times have changed, and the media has brought the taboo into the mainstream, there are still many who are not totally comfortable with open sexuality. Actually, when asked to write this piece, I realized that I still carried a minor “tickle” if you will, with the thought of openly addressing sexual topics. I told them both that as I age, I realize that I am very common; if I am feeling, thinking or dealing with something, odds are there are thousands more, just like me, feeling the same.
Keenly aware of the stigma and issues that still surround women today, these two kind, well-educated women started Feel the Vibe to create a safe, supportive and educational environment to facilitate women coming together to explore issues around their sexual health, and offer tools for personal growth and exploration. “There is no judgment. We meet the group where they are at and let the women lead. We strive to build community by encouraging authentic, true expression, and allow for each woman to have her voice heard,” smiles Heather warmly. I have to attest, within minutes of being in their company, I found myself not only willing, but also really wanting to share. Heather goes on to say, “Each culture has found their own way to address sexuality. Many indigenous cultures use ritual and ceremony where female elders educate young women and male elders educate young men around issues of sexuality and relationship. Because our culture offers less ritual space, our hope is that our group provides a safe space for women to explore topics of sexuality and health, to learn from us and from each other.”
Currently, Robin and Heather are providing sexual education, and body awareness through a class called Yoga for women’s sexual health and vitality at local venues like Asheville Community Yoga. During these classes, women learn skills to connect with their bodies and breath, and to move their vital/sexual energy in the safe confines of a yoga class. They also teach communication skills, Taoist visualization and breathing techniques. At these classes, they provide information and samples of sensual massage oils, erotic products and organic lubricants that are also available for purchase. As much as they enjoy these classes, because of the diverse groups of women that gather, Robin and Heather expressed a desire to have women host small private gatherings with their friends for a more intimate setting. “Initially we visualized women bringing us in for women’s groups, workshops, wedding showers, or birthday parties,” says Robin. Heather said though currently their groups are women only, she would love to have Feel the Vibe offer educational groups for men, lead by men.
“Our vision is to create a safe, educational, sex-positive environment for women. We believe that when women are nurturing their sexual health it allows both men and women to lead more vital and satisfying lives. We offer the highest quality, eco-friendly, erotic toys and sensual products that are organic and local whenever possible.”
Robin Fann-Costanzo has been a licensed massage and bodywork specialist and yoga instructor since 1993. She teaches Esalen® Massage (founded at The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA) and is actually featured on their instructional video. She also studied Gestalt Therapy and Craniosacral therapy at the Esalen Institute, which is where she met Heather. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Robin lived in California for 20 years and currently lives in Asheville with her husband, Corey Costanzo, and her two beautiful daughters, Sofia, age seven and Rosalina, age three. Robin also has a private massage and yoga practice. Her husband, Corey, is a massage therapist, somatic therapist and is currently a counselor at the not-for-profit “Kids at Work” program which teaches at-risk kids how to cook. Robin has always had a passion for teaching women about their health and sexuality. She has studied with many teachers including Rachel Abrams, author of The Multi-Orgasmic Woman, Charles and Caroline Muir, co-authors of The Art of Conscious Loving and Margot Anand, author of The Art of Sexual Ecstasy. Robin will also be inducted into The World Massage Hall of Fame, later this month.
Heather Cohen has a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and 15 years experience providing art therapy for everyone from children to adults, including the rites of passage ritual and ceremony. Heather grew up in New York and moved to California, at the age of 20, where she attended The California Institute of Integral Studies. She then moved to Big Sur where she studied Gestalt Therapy at the Esalen Institute and assisted Rachel Abrams, a leading voice in Women’s Sexual Health. During her time in Big Sur, she also co-founded a Cultural Arts and Education Center. Heather moved to Asheville nine months ago and is currently an event director and producer. She is producing her second Asheville Chocolate and Arts Festival, at the Asheville Civic Center, December 8, 2012. Heather created this family-friendly festival, which offers world music, dance performances and workshops, local art and crafts, a live music Fashion show (featuring local designers and models) and free chocolate samples from 10 local chocolate and desert makers. For more information about The Asheville Chocolate and Arts Festival , please visit www.sacredcelebrationsproductions.com.
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For more information, please feel free to contact Robin Fann-Costanzo at: email@example.com,
Heather Cohen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.Feelthevibewnc.com.
For more information regarding Kids@work, please contact Corey Costanzo at email@example.com.
And since I opened with a quote, I will close with one too, “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” ~Woody Allen