In December 2012, Elisha Thompson fell in love. Not with a partner—although her and partner Chris Deaton have been together for 14 years and are still going strong—but with practicing yoga.
“No other physical activity had ever made me feel so good,” Thompson says. “I looked forward to my next yoga class as soon as one ended.”
Fast-forward to today, and Thompson practices yoga daily and teaches it, too. She is a registered yoga teacher with 400 hours of training and writes about different yoga-related topics (in addition to health and wellness articles) for YogiApproved.com. Yoga, for her, has become much more than an exercise routine—it has helped her to lead a healthier lifestyle mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
“It wasn’t until I found yoga that I began to develop a healthy relationship with my body and discovered happiness within myself,” she shares. “The connection to the breath, the yoga poses, the self-discovery, and wise ancient philosophies provided me with body affirming experiences and deep personal growth… The practice of yoga and its teachings of self-compassion, acceptance, presence, and patience offer a path to transforming negative beliefs about ourselves.”
Thompson adds that, even though she lost 100 pounds and had gastric bypass surgery, it wasn’t until she began to practice yoga that she felt comfortable in her own skin.
Yoga for Kink
Thompson, who identifies as bisexual, is also a part of the polyamorous, kink and BDSM communities. She shares that, when she would attend kink or BDSM classes and conferences, she would notice the similarities between yoga poses and the flexibility needed for rope, bondage and kink play and activities.
An academic and natural researcher, she spent over a year researching what yoga poses help with certain types of kink play and began to write down her findings in her first book: Yoga for Kink.
“Yoga for Kink is an instructional yoga book. It is broken into three sections: upper body bondage, lower body bondage, and full body bondage,” she explains. “Within each section, there are photos of models tied into various bondage positions. Following that, I provide a list of yoga poses that will help prepare the body to get into those bondage positions — or positions similar to it, along with step by step instructions on getting into the yoga pose. There are photos of each yoga pose, including modifications for bodies that are not yet able to get into the full pose.”
As someone who has experienced her own body image issues, Thompson took special care to make sure that the book features models of different genders, ethnicities, and body types so that anyone who reads it feels welcome and knows that yoga is meant to be accessible for all bodies, she shares.
“While it could seem like it at first glance, Yoga for Kink is not only for those getting put or tied into a bondage position,” she adds. “This book is also for those who are doing the tying, flogging, or paddling. All forms of kink play can benefit from yoga.”
The book is a homegrown labor of love as well as it features work from local artist Nadia Vanilla, photographer Randal T. Cox, and the models for all of the poses are locals—made up of friends from the various communities that Thompson calls home (kink, polyamory, LGBTQ+, BDSM, and, of course, yoga).
“Yoga and bondage are accessible to all bodies,” Thompson shares. “Each of us just has to take the time to figure out how to make it work for us. Yoga for Kink can help with that.”
To help make her book a reality, Thompson and Deaton have launched an Indiegogo campaign to cover printing costs and offer perks to their earliest supporters. To support her effort and learn more about book, visit indiegogo.com/projects/yoga-for-kink.
The book will be published under the busy duo’s Truly Beloved brand (trulybeloved.com), where they offer classes and resources for the polyamory and kink communities.
For those who are interested in taking yoga classes from Thompson with an emphasis on kink and bondage readiness (and are over 18), she teaches monthly classes at Arizona Power Exchange, the Valley’s local BDSM education and resource center (arizonapowerexchange.org). Thompson’s social media information and other resources can be found at yogaforkink.com.
Yoga and Body Positivity
To Thompson, yoga is meant to be a practice for bodies of any shape, and is all about feeling good in the skin you’re in. Here are some body positively perks she says can manifest from practicing yoga:
- Yoga helps you tap in to your physical strength
- It helps you see the importance of the moment
- Yoga invites you to observe, rather than judge
- It helps you to focus on possibilities rather than limitations
- Yoga helps you develop appreciation for your body through movement