Shibari – an ancient form of torture has had many transformations over the years… would you believe me if I told you that it can be a somatically healing experience? The ropes that once brought others immense pain and suffering could now bring you healing and connection with your body and partners? Let’s dive in. 

My experience with Somatic Shibari☝️

In my own journey with Shibari, I’ve experienced profound healing and self-discovery. The practice has taught me the power of surrender, the importance of trust, and the beauty of intentional connection. Through Shibari, I’ve learned to embrace vulnerability, explore my boundaries, and cultivate a deeper sense of presence in my relationships. 

For example, I’ve found that practicing Shibari with a trusted partner has helped to strengthen our bond and deepen our connection, leading to greater intimacy and understanding. Additionally, I’ve learned to see Shibari as a form of self-care, using the practice to relax and unwind after a long day. Like yoga, it helps me to come back to my body and to quieten my mind, instead of letting the stress and buzz of life take me away.

 

What is Shibari?🤨

Shibari, or Kinbaku, is an ancient Japanese art form and previous form of torture, involving the intricate tying of ropes around the body. Depending on the person practicing Shibari, this current art can be soft, intense, painful, erotic, or taboo – the beauty is putting your own meaning into it. 

Many find Shibari online, which usually displays the more sadistic side of this rope play, more commonly known as a form called Semenawa (torment rope), I was lucky to find a gentle practice. I had the absolute honor of studying Shibari under the master Hajime Kinoko in Tokyo, Japan. Kinoko’s practice is based on history, beauty, and safety and less of a “tie” to the BDSM and kink community.

Taking the roots of Shibari’s history, my master’s teachings, and of course my own unique approach… I see Shibari as more than just physical restraint; it’s a journey of connection, trust, and healing. 

Discover: 3 types of Shibari experiences in London.

 

How does Somatic Healing and Shibari Intertwine?🪢

While Shibari has roots in eroticism, its therapeutic benefits extend far beyond sexuality. Many practitioners like me engage in Shibari for self-exploration, personal growth, and somatic healing. For example, my partners and I have found Shibari to be a tool for trauma healing, using the practice to reconnect with our bodies and reclaim a sense of agency and empowerment. Similarly, Shibari can be used as a form of meditation, helping us quiet the mind and access a sense of inner peace. Here are just a few of the ways in which Shibari can be a somatic healing experience.

 

Surrender & Trust🤝

Shibari involves a deep level of trust between partners, leading to a profound sense of surrender. Surrendering control can be therapeutic, allowing you to let go of stress and tension. For instance, imagine the feeling of surrendering to the tension of the rope as it wraps around your body, trusting your partner to guide you into a state of relaxation. This act of surrender can be incredibly liberating, offering a release from the burdens of daily life and your busy brain. Imagine the brain turning “off”, and your body tuning “in”.

 

A Sensory Experience👄

The sensation of ropes against the skin creates a unique tactile experience, which grounds me or my partners in the present moment. Each knot and twist becomes a point of connection between us, enhancing awareness of the body. I find that with every caress of the ropes, moving them slow or fast, your nerve endings are awakened to either thrill you or relax you. If you wish to push boundaries, you can create intense sensations like pain, which equally produce a sensory experience. I find that a slow exploration of ropes helps attune your “palate” to what limits you may have. 

 

Physical Release🦵

Shibari does one thing well- it pushes your body to its limits. Even if you tie without the intention of pain, being bound and unable to move can be a very intense experience. The feeling of being bound in Shibari can be likened to the anxiety-inducing feeling of claustrophobia: it questions the deep part of your brain that asks if you’re safe.

But when surrendered to the experience of Shibari, your body actually relaxes. At this point, many of my partners would describe their experience like being held tightly or the anxiety reducing effects of a weighted blanket. The physical pressure quickly goes from panic to bliss!

When pain or intensity is involved, I find that the body has its own reaction: to shake, tremble, sweat, go cold, crying, laughing, or deep silence. Like an ice bath, it may challenge your physical body, but it’s about pushing past the “hard” to feel the rejuvenation.

 

Explore Your Limits🙅‍♀️

Shibari encourages my partners and I to explore our physical and emotional limits in a safe and consensual environment. By pushing boundaries and learning to breathe through discomfort or pleasure, I can cultivate resilience and self-awareness. For example, as the ropes tighten around the body, I may experience sensations of discomfort or even pain.

However, by practicing deep breathing and mindfulness techniques, I can learn to navigate these sensations and expand my capacity for discomfort. Usually, on the other side of discomfort is a deep bodily bliss: my heart rate slows, I get goosebumps, I might even shake or laugh: It feels like pent up energy leaving my body!

 

Intentionality and Mindfulness🧠

Every movement in Shibari is deliberate, infused with mindfulness and presence. By cultivating a sense of mindfulness during Shibari practice, you can develop a greater awareness of your bodies and your emotions. For instance, as your partner carefully selects and ties each knot, they are attuned to your physical and emotional responses, adjusting their movements accordingly. This focus on intentionality and mindfulness keeps you present, and builds deep trust knowing that you’re taken care of, or you’re taking care of someone.

Shibari is more than just ropes and knots; it’s a gateway to somatic healing and self-awareness. Whether you’re a seasoned rope lover or new to the art form, exploring Shibari can lead to transformative somatic experiences – what do you wish to explore? Embrace curiosity, vulnerability, and connection – you may find yourself on a journey of a lifetime!

 

Read: Gender unbound: the experience of a female shibari rigger.

Find a Shibari instruction experience on Sensuali.

 

Featured image: Nobuyoshi Araki (2000).

Educational
BDSM
bondage
shibari
Julieta

Julieta

Author

As a sex and kink coach, I specialise in empowering both couples and singles to explore the realms of pleasure, confidence, and open sexual dynamics. I'm also Japanese-trained Shibari instructor, boasting a prestigious license from the esteemed master Hajime Kinoko.


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