• Emma Louise Alvarez

Diving Into the ‘Mystical World’ of Shibari


© Image by Voudou Ropes

Stopping the time, finding inner love, and letting go of what no longer serves you - understanding Shibari through the eyes of a rope artist.

Shibari is a Japanese art of rope. It is a way of tying yourself or others with rope, finding both an emotional and physical experience that is needed and personal to the individual at a specific moment. It is a sensual practice that has many styles and many approaches. Shibari is very individual to every practitioner, as every person finds their own value within this art.


Anastasia, founder and owner of Voudou Ropes, offers us a glimpse into the mystical world of Shibari.


Anastasia’s first introduction to Shibari was in a history class at university. Her professor was showing some old scrolls with depictions of prisoners tied up in elaborate fashions. When pursuing further research about it, learning about the history and emotional aspects of rope art, Anastasia started practising on herself, on friends, and family and learned firsthand how Shibari can change someone’s emotional state, making them feel light and loved inside. She has now been practising Shibari for seven years, traveling all over the world and teaching her own style for two years.


© Image by Voudou Ropes


How do you combine travel and teaching? And what do you love the most about your lifestyle?

Every time I travel, I try to find Shibari people in that place and meet up with them to learn or share experiences. Also, I do workshops whenever I can and bring many interested people together!

I love what I do, and I love sharing it with people. I appreciate how new places and people give inspiration. I love that every day in my life, I have opportunities to make someone a little happier. I am a very lucky person because all that time I was building my Shibari image, I had my partner supporting me and not letting me give up when something was going wrong.

What are some misconceptions people have about Shibari?

There are 2. The first one is that people think Shibari equals bondage. It’s both true and not true at the same time. The second is that people assume it is painful, again - yes and no.


When people google Shibari, what comes up usually looks painful and has BDSM connotations. Or they see it for the first time in a purely sexual context and then perceive it as something vulgar. Shibari can be rough, there are ways to use it in playful or therapeutical ways to find pleasure through pain, but this is very personal and should be done only with professionals. Shibari also can be very gentle, and in any case, it is about the process and communication between the participants. To what extent does sexual self-empowerment play a role in Shibari?

Shibari helps to work on self-love, which has a lot to do with sexual confidence and empowerment. You tie or get tied and get those precious moments of self-care, letting go of control and really feeling yourself, physically and emotionally. It is like a meditation, where a Shibari master is leading you through the process.


However, Shibari does not have to be sexual - most Shibari experiences are not sexual. It can arouse very different feelings, but those can be of any kind. Some people burst into tears while being tied. It is normal because they release a lot of stress, some start laughing out loud, and some get excited and transform the sexual energy into something necessary for them. It is very dependent on the individual.

How may Shibari improve a relationship - is it a way of communicating?

Shibari is a great way to deepen the relationship. Shibari is impossible without patience, communication, and listening. You are listening to your body, your heart, and your partner. The rope is (as you might have heard before) an extension of your hands. I don’t know which Shibari master said that first, but it perfectly describes it. Rope adds to the experience you are giving to your partner; it adds an extra hug, extra support, and helps to communicate a lot without any words. Partners practicing Shibari need to carefully listen to each other’s needs and experiment a lot with rope to figure out personal and different likes and dislikes. It is a journey to discover each other once again.

How do you discover new knots / find inspiration for new workshops?

New knots come through practice, but I need to find inspiration first to make a new knot. Inspiration is very random… A lot of inspiration comes from everyday life or something I randomly see and imagine in ropes. For example, I am at the grocery store, and suddenly, my mind starts imagining very casual photos with Shibari in the middle of it, wondering about how I can show and create new connections. Sometimes nature inspires me to use its lines and colours. Sometimes my own needs or the needs of one of my models make me explore what specific knot can help in their situation. I get very inspired when I have rope photoshoots because I create ties depending on the model’s body shapes and clothes, so I come up with something different every time. Sometimes I would see the work of some other Shibari artist and combine it with my style to create something new.

© Image by Voudou Ropes

What do you enjoy about teaching or photographing others new to Shibari? Teaching and photographing are just different ways to share what I love. My favourite part is that I see how people find something new about themselves. They open up and are not afraid to be vulnerable and explore! After they have tried it, I love that they want to share the experience with others.

People should try Shibari to get distracted from this hectic world and give themselves time to feel and connect. How long are you ‘stuck’ in a series of knots, and if someone is uncomfortable, how do you deal with that?

This really depends on the person and what they want. For a photoshoot - about 15 to 20 minutes. For a session - knots are flowing, so the situation of one person being stuck in one knot for more than 3 minutes never happens (at least in my practice). But the suspension session can easily take to about an hour. But that hour will be very dynamic with changing the position and pressure points.


What is Shibari to you? To what extent is Shibari a spiritual practice?

Shibari is a feeling. It is about connection and sharing.


For the people and me I practice with, Shibari is a very spiritual practice. It helps to connect with yourself and the environment around you, be very present, and accept yourself and reality. After this is done, you are ready to open up and connect with others.


© Image by Voudou Ropes


To learn more about Anastasia and the Shibari workshops offered through Voudou Ropes, visit her social media and websites:


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/voudou.ropes/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7jBTpPQq3K3-8JZxrkoCzw

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/voudouropes

Website: https://www.voudouropes.com