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Why Burlesque Is A Trauma Healing Modality

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

My work is a somatic approach to coaching. Simply put, it’s working with the body, listening to the sensations, observing our own body language, tuning into the wisdom of the body and feeling where our blockages are and from there exploring how to move through them. Most of this comes from listening extremely well to the body and then being able to rewire our nervous system to create new patterns which are more supportive to our growth and development.

As a sex, love and relationship coach, I believe, and my experience has been, that our connection to our sexuality, how we love ourselves and our relationship to others, is essential to our experience as human beings and they influence our behaviour and how we see ourselves in the world.

So finding ways to break free from social conditioning, tuning into my body and building up a trusting and supportive community is important in my own development and journey.

And Burlesque has been an integral part of that.

Which is why I decided to write why every woman should be trying it and the arguments; spiritual and scientific, as to why Burlesque is good for you.

We frequently start the class with a ‘walk’ through the studio. Bringing our awareness to the music, to our bodies and how they move. This is important because most of us spend a lot of our time not listening to our bodies. We don’t drink water when we’re thirsty, we keep eating until we’re past full, stay up watching TV when we are already very tired… for the most part, many of us are disconnected in some way. Now you could say try yoga, and I know a lot of people get benefit from that, but are you aware that for some people, sitting in stillness and being THAT in tune with the body can actually be retraumatising? For some people staying so present and slow can be really frightening because all of a sudden we are 100% tuned into our body and as our body has been a scary place, it accentuates even further our fear of being still. Burlesque allows that perception of the body but with movement, so you are aware of where you are in time and space, which limbs you are moving and how that feels, without being overly still.

Those ‘walks’, although subtle, are building an awareness in how my body moves, how it feels in the space of the room. When I tune into my thoughts and observe them I may notice familiar thought patterns of ‘am I doing a good enough job?’, ‘do I look silly?’, ‘what if I trip over?’. Because I do a lot of ‘ego observation’, I’m very aware of what the stories are that I frequently tell myself. There is generally a similar theme. And if you begin to listen to your thoughts and notice what comes into your head, write it down, you will also notice a theme. Mine tend to be around the theme of…

‘not being good enough and that people will not like me if I don’t behave in a certain way. Try not to be too confident as other people won’t like you and will feel threatened.’

I know these themes are ones that my ego has created to keep me safe. To prevent me from stepping out from the norm. Previously these thoughts would hold me back. Now I observe them with curiosity but I don’t attach myself to them or believe them.

A great thing I have found with Burlesque is that there is a lot of movement in the hips. If you aren’t used to gyrating your hips it can feel a little stiff at first. Trust that you will loosen up and approaching it from a place of fun will enable you to really feel into that sensual movement. Our hips are connected to sexual energy. The movement of our hips can create a feeling of arousal as hip movements are connected with sex positions and sexual expression in love-making. It arouses within us our sexual energy, turn on and connection to our sexuality. And connection to our sexuality gives us confidence.

If you are a spiritual sort of person you will connect the sacral Chakra to your sexual energy centre and the Taoists connect our sexual energy (Jing) as that which is converted into life force energy (chi). Therefore, movement of the hips is in fact stimulating our sexual energy which in turn enables us to access our creativity.

I sometimes find myself asking our fabulous teacher Charlotte, ‘how can I make this move look more sexy?’ And her amazing reply - ‘you are sexy’. And it’s all about that. Tuning into how you feel and experience your own sexuality will enable you to transmit sexiness. I wrote here that sexiness is a state of your mind and not the state of your body, so getting out of my head about what I ‘should’ look like and getting into my body about how I want to ‘feel’, will automatically tune me into my individual sexy expression of self.

Dancing is an amazing way to move our body through processes and to listen to how it wants to express itself. In Burlesque it’s in relation to connecting to our sexuality. However, I often offer my clients as a home assignment the task of listening to an emotion in the body and moving the body in the way that the emotion is wanting to be expressed. Tuning into our body’s ability to move through what it needs to and practising listening is key to having a better relationship with your emotions.

Burlesque is a great way for us to have fun, get out of our comfort zone and not take ourselves too seriously. Due to the potential vulnerability of the space and the feeling of being ‘exposed’ in our sexuality, to lighten the mood and crate a sense of community, we cheer each other on and learn to laugh at ourselves when we pull a move that may be less than elegant or sexy. It has helped me for sure to be more playful and not take life so seriously. Especially as my work with clients can be holding space for situations in which people are experiencing emotional pain.

If you are interested in all the science, Stephen Porges’ work on The Polyvagal Theory talks about how important it is to achieve a high vagal tone to be able to connect to other people through song or dance in community. It supports our social engagement system. A very brief summary is that a high vagal tone is our ability to move from a stressed state to a relaxed state fairly quickly and easily. The social engagement system is our ability to read and interpret situations from a place of security and safety instead of stress and fear.

So Burlesque for me isn’t just sexy dancing. It’s another way of creating a healing space. Healing my traumas and healing my sexuality.

I’d like to extend huge thanks to Charlotte and my dancing peers at Inversion for being a great community and be willing to have their photo taken for my article!

Much love to you ladies!


Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at



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