Yay! I love blog interview days, don’t you?! Today I have one of my dear friends, fellow yoga teachers, Miss Gabriella Arbesu. More commonly known as Gabi, or Gabriella Cristina if you recognize her from IG.
I asked Gabi to come on to talk about the sexualization of yoga, because as well as being a killer yoga teacher, she also has an OnlyFans account. Which, as you might be able to guess, ruffles the feathers of many people in the yoga community given her freedom of expression through the comfort of her own skin.
Her story is equally interesting and inspiring. And, guess what- you don’t have to agree with everything she says in order to respect her. Crazy concept, I know. This blog is all diverse topics, viewpoints, and experiences so that you- as the critical thinker you are- can determine your own opinion totally on your own.
I’m so looking forward to your thoughts on Gabi’s story, and I can’t wait for you to share in the comments after you read!
What it’s like Being a Yoga Teacher with an OnlyFans Account with Gabriella Arbesu
Tell us a little bit about your yoga journey. How did you find yoga, and what your evolution was from practitioner to teacher?
Ah, my yoga journey… My yoga journey was a journey I felt was a “pardon” or a gift from the universe if you will. My first intro to yoga was my mom giving me a VCR of kids yoga. I vividly remember loving tree pose and closing my eyes and sitting like “yogi” in stillness. This is at the age of 8 I believe where my attention span was of a guppy and stillness was greatly welcomed by my family.
Aside from the living room tree pose when I was 8 years old; my yoga journey started when I was 16 years old after being sexually assaulted. Ugh I hate that term “sexually assaulted”; let’s call a-spade-a-spade. I was raped. It was a case that cost me my 8 year soccer career and my chances of playing in university, playing the rest of my high school career, my reputation, and the only thing at that time; that brought me peace in life – movement.
After several weeks of hearing girls boast about hot yoga I remember thinking that it sounded fun. Haha “that’s the last thing I would call hot yoga” after my first class. I remember the entire time being so confused by the verbiage, confused, shocked at how nude everyone seemed to be in their little yoga shorts. And the teacher in a handstand for what seemed like an eternity; talking to us about energy and life.
I am pretty sure I got home from that class thinking, “that fucking sucked… and I can’t wait to go everyday.”
I felt the magic of mind,body,and breath connection. And I saw the ownership of one’s movement, the control, yet the freedom. As an angsty 16 year old, post sexual trauma, terrible reputation, & incredibly lost… I craved the duality of control yet freedom within myself, within life.
Fast forward to my first year away at college; I drove up to Tallahassee and traded in my yoga mat for beer kegs and my meditation for shots of wells whiskey and baking powder disguised as cocaine. It didn’t take long for my frontal lobe to kick in some for me to realize that I was wasting away my time and energy. I found a studio nearby and remember my entire “being” crumble. I signed up for an unlimited membership and went 2-3xs a day up until the end of that first year’s spring semester.
The teacher I went to religiously; who is someone I can’t even remember by name yet thank graciously almost every week til this day mentally, came up to me mid pigeon and told me I’d be a great teacher and that she felt called to tell me that. Up until that point I still felt lost, like why the hell am I up at school when I don’t even know what I want to be. Yet, that clicked. It felt… right. Something in me, just said to trust and follow the feeling.
So I called my parents; told them I was dropping out to travel and become a yoga teacher…
And they said, “You’re insane but I like that plan, come home.”
I spent the next few years traveling the world alone, making ends meet so that I could leave again. And used what money was supposed to be for college, towards my yoga education and 200hr RYT. I taught my first class 2 weeks after my graduation. The rest is history… or a longer blog post.
Share how and why you decided to make an OnlyFans. Did this have an impact on your career as a teacher? If so, how?
OooOoo OnlyFans…. It sometimes still feels like a word that if I say it 10xs in front of a mirror with the lights off and turn the lights back on… a demon will appear (Millennials will get that reference, I hope).
I started my instagram like many of us; posting photos of a random sunset with some terrible grainy filter on it. Maybe a very close up selfie with friends, or the random photo of your pet. But it turned into me posting photos of my lifestyle which was being your typical south florida 20’ something. I lived in a bikini and loved posting myself in bikinis, having fun, doing yoga in bikinis, etc. As the years went on, my social media began to take on a new form and gained a micro following due to the fact that I began low-budget-cringe modeling in college and got posted by some companies and brands…so I grew.
The older and more confident I got, the more my “lifestyle” of being in a bikini, somewhere tropical, yoga, nude; became my brand.
I always posted with the true intention and outlook that my body is art, photography and expressing myself that way was art. So when Onlyfans initially came about I was SO against it. I had the philosophy that to put a price tag on my body was to suggest I am worth a certain amount to someone, that I could be bought, and I am a divine, independent priceless woman. As a survivor as well, there were a few things that didn’t sit well with me. What kind of crowd is on there? What do they expect? Etc.
Until I was camping in Big Sur in 2021 and someone was explaining Onlyfans in ways I have never heard. Describing it as this self run business, where you make the rules, make incredible money, and you post and do what you want – which is fun. Well hell, fun… I LOVE FUN.
I was currently a full time teacher making ends meet the last 4 years of my life. Burnt out and teaching anywhere between 8-18 classes a week. I was ready to host yoga retreats internationally and not rely so heavily on the weekly classes.
I wanted more. To invest, travel, save, and again… freedom baby.
So I activated my mula bandha and made an Onlyfans account and posted a story on my Instagram. My nipples were basically already on my Insta feed with barely-there “artistic” squiggly lines over them, my butt was on there more times than my face… so it was a massive “fuck it” moment for me.
As a yoga teacher it affected and maybe caused gossip amongst the WRONG crowd and the right crowd still showed up to my classes, attended my retreats, and supported me in all my forms. The only “negative response” having an Onlyfans has brought me is the opinions of people who never truly rooted for me in the first place, kept talking about me.
I truly believe that everything is intention; I love the art I create on my account, expressing myself sensually, and tapping into that sexual side of myself for work and fun. It can be a beautiful career, if you want it to be.
Do you ever get flack for sexualizing yoga because you have an OnlyFans AND are a yoga teacher? Can you give examples, and share how what you do is different than sexualizing the yoga practice.
I honestly believe if you are a yoga teacher and you have nipples… and you post a photo of you doing yoga… someone somewhere is going to give you flack.
For a long time when it comes to the sexualization of yoga I would often get so confused how men wearing dental floss in a cave practicing yoga is more than okay but women wearing $200 yoga outfits and posting a photo of an asana is horrific (Cultural Appropriation aside of this topic). So it’s always been sexist in my eyes, and I remember receiving messages even prior to OF about my bikini photos doing yoga. And how disrespectful and “un-yogic” it was.
Now with OF it was never an issue online, or with my students, but a teacher I knew had issues with it. They expressed it wasnt yoga like,how it was inappropriate and drawing in the wrong crowd to the studio. When in reality, my students have been showing up for me for 8 years now, not because of my Onlyfans but because of who I am as a teacher.
If anything I find living your truth without wavering due to hateful opinion – is inspiring.
People choose teachers that ultimately make them feel something; whether it is an alignment cue that changed their body in a posture, or a thought provoking message that changed their mind, or a feeling a teacher was able to bring out…
At the end of the day, I won’t change who I am due to others opinions or beliefs. How I choose to spend my time outside of the yoga room shouldn’t negatively affect how I show up as a teacher and I know my students, peers, and followers support that.
It is one of those “fights” that I have chosen to remove myself from getting emotionally charged. Having an OF while being a yoga teacher can live in synchronicity if both are deeply rooted in the right intention and in truth. “Strong opinions loosely held” is a mantra I revisit often.
Do you think being a nudist is rooted in self love? If so, how.
Is it funny that I don’t even refer to myself as a nudist; ironic right?
When I think of the word nudist, I think of a nude commune and everyone has sold everything and they all sing around a campfire. Which is obviously silly but I immediately picture that when I hear that word.
I would say I am Nude Comfy. I find comfort being nude in nature, I’m comfortable being nude around others and others being nude around me, and I feel free when I am nude. A lot of that freedom feeling has a lot to do with nature and the connection that nudity and nature have with one another. If you haven’t tanned on a beach naked… have you lived?!?!! This is your sign!
I do STRONGLY believe that being comfortable and confident in your nude form is an impenetrable sign of self love. To be comfortable in your purest form is a gift I truly wish everyone had. Loving yourself truly is a glow people cannot buy, take, or duplicate. It’s taking every “mask” we have off and finding comfort in our skin.
There isn’t anywhere to hide, we simply are in a state of… being.
What are 4 tips you can leave someone on getting more comfortable in their own skin, whether that’s on or off the mat, nude or fully clothed?
Finding comfort in your own skin on the mat
Yoga isn’t about looking good while doing yoga, it isn’t about having perfect form. It’s about feeling good in your body. Move in ways that empower you, take classes from teachers that inspire you, practice on the mat like… every movement is a love letter to yourself. Find pleasure in your existence and give yourself room to surprise yourself. Like how fucking sexy is that ahhh!
Find comfort off the mat fully clothed
Wear clothes that make you feel confident, divine, and powerful. Clothes that represent who you are, your vibe. Be you. And if you don’t know who YOU even is yet, search. Take risks, try everything, failure is action with momentum…meaning you’re moving forward in your search. Finding yourself is a lifelong journey that is equal parts beautiful and messy but it isn’t meant to be perfect.
Find comfort without clothes on
Buckle up babe: take sensual photos & self pleasure. No you don’t have to ever show anyone. But take photos, get sexy… at first it might sound awkward or silly BUT I SWEAR – it is one of my favorite forms of self love- taking hot photos for me. You’ll see every curve of you that makes you beautiful. Save it in a secret file on your phone and when you feel down, take a peak. Also self pleasure is an ode to loving yourself. Knowing your body and what makes you tic. It is such a beautiful way to transport you to the cosmos, yet connect you to the deepest part of your soul.
Find comfort in yourself
This can also be a journey you bring your loved ones, and community in on. Surround yourself with people who uplift, support, inspire, and love you. It’s that simple. You truly are who you surround yourself with.
Extra grateful for Kayla for inviting me to chat and sending love to whoever these words reach!