Courtney Avery, MPH
Courtney Avery has her Masters of Public Health, is an E-RYT200 certified Yoga Instructor, and Birth Doula. Intimate Health Yoga is her combination of yoga, integrative medicine, and evidence-based sex ed. Her goal is to provide you with tools to take control of your sexual health and find more pleasure in your life.
Why do I do what I do?
With an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, minoring in Chemistry and Microbiology & Immunology, I was on track to go to medical school. I realized the immense impact of preventative medicine on a larger scale, and this totally changed my mind. I felt I could make a big difference here, so I went on to earn my Masters of Public Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, with a concentration in community health education and disease prevention, focused on global health, women's issues, and behavior change.
My field work and research included: Western China to study the anthropology of Traditional Chinese Medicine and its impact on minority politics. Tibet to study the anthropology of Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Tibetan Buddhist culture. South Africa to study the impact of Traditional Health Practitioners and their effect on the HIV/Tb epidemic in Rural South Africa. The indigenous San Blas Islands of Panama to study the ethnobotany of traditional Guna medicine. My Masters work was Implementing a Culturally Competent Mind-Body Awareness Program for Women: Inspired by a Holistic Approach to Health Amongst the Guna Indians.
One summer in grad school, I decided to enroll in a yoga teacher training to 'get better at yoga' with no intention of actually teaching. This training flipped my world upside down as we got deeper and deeper into the self-inquiry, realizations, and immense growth that the practice of yoga brings up. As I started teaching yoga, I quickly realized that yoga was one of the best methods of health education I could offer. When you stop to really feel your body and observe your thoughts, you can absorb information and integrate it into your way of being in a very tangible and physical way.
I began to teach prenatal yoga by default as it coincided with my graduate studies and experiences working in birth clinics in South Africa where I caught a baby for the first time as it came into the world. I fell in love with teaching prenatal yoga, and eventually went on to become a birth doula. Assisting families through the journey of birth- before, during, and after, has shown me the miracle of what our bodies are capable of. I also witnessed the lack of education and even confidence around our most intimate health questions.
I knew the importance of conventional sexual health education. Wear a condom, make good choices, and get tested. What I did not like was how disconnected sex ed can be from actually allowing and opening the conversation of how things really feel in the body. Do we talk about pleasure, what it means, and the feelings behind it in sex ed? No.
I knew how sensual yoga is, and how I was able to accept and love my body exactly as it was. I knew my sex life improved, and I was feeling orgasms more than I ever had! What I did not like was the lack of conversation about sex in a yoga class. I mean, happy baby pose... come on people, should I relax my pelvic floor and vagina or what?
I went on a personal journey to learn about everything that has to do with sexual health. I knew there was something more than what my yoga trainers and doctors told me. My travels took me to Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, and Southern California. I learned from Tantra teachers, yoga gurus, womb specialists, shamans, OBGYN’s physical therapists, and more. I eventually grew roots in Southern California, were I felt comfortable to combine my experiences from these different fields of health, (that are actually not different at all) to create Intimate Health Yoga.