5 Tips for A More Mindful Sensual Experience

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We live in a society that is constantly pushing us to go harder, faster, longer. And no, I’m not just talking about sex. Whether it’s our jobs, at home, or even our hobbies, we are continually striving to get better, to go further. We are inundated with messages that tell us to progress, to do more, more, more! It may feel sometimes like we need to be superhuman to even keep up. Often, we get so caught up in reaching our goal that we forget about enjoying the journey, only to find at the end, we’re still not happy. So we set another goal and start the process again.

As it turns out, our hectic lives are a pretty good indication of what’s going on behind our bedroom doors too. Is it any wonder we feel we haven’t found time to really connect with our partner? Is it any wonder sex seems like just another item on the to-do list? That we are too stressed/distracted to achieve that big ‘O’? Is it any wonder we worry we will never feel satisfied or experience a deep and meaningful pleasure?

Luckily, I can offer a few words of comfort and five practical tips to help explore sexual pleasure in a more meaningful way. The good news is that none of us are broken, nor are our intimate relationships in ruins; they were simply set aside as we got caught up in the whirlwind of life. Secondly, adopting these five mindful sexuality strategies will help promote a more mindful and pleasure oriented experience in all your day to day activities.

1. Breathe.

Yes, it is that simple. When was the last time during foreplay or sex that you really connected with your breath? During sexual activity hormones are flooding our nervous system, blood is being pumped ferociously to our erogenous zones, and we start to quicken our breath. While this is an excellent way to detox the lungs, sometimes we are trying so hard to reach climax that we stop breathing altogether (kind of like when you are holding triangle pose during yoga for the first time and you forget you even have lungs). Before you know it, sex is over and you’re wondering if it was even any good! It was quick, to the point and utterly devoid of mindfulness. Focusing on your breath during sex can help you reclaim that sense of connection to your body, mind, spirit, soul and even partner. Breath, physiologically speaking, is integral to a pleasurable sexual experience; it relaxes our muscles and actually increases blood flow to the genitals, which can result in a more intense and longer lasting orgasm. However, emotionally and spiritually speaking, focusing on our breath reminds us that sex is a beautiful journey; a time to connect, renew, relax and indulge. Try this: During foreplay, lay in spoon position with one of your partner’s hands on your belly and the other on your heart center. Breathe slowly and purposefully. You will feel the day’s tension melt away and you will feel the breath flow to where you need it most. If at anytime during your sexual encounter you start to feel that mad rush to get somewhere, stop and start breathing mindfully with the rhythm of your bodies. Delight in the sensations that you never even noticed before.

2. Look. Don’t touch.

Our eyes are powerful and magical; looking into someone’s eyes can tell you their life’s story, their greatest sorrow or their biggest desire. Eyes are often cited as the most erotic part of the human body, and can offer you the most intimate sexual experience you have ever had, without even getting physical. When was the last time you really looked at your partner? When was the last time you let your partner look at you – with the lights on?Perhaps you have forgotten what a beautiful and magnificent creature you are. Allow me to remind you of your absolute perfection. Really looking at one another during foreplay or sex will force you to ignore the nagging or critical thoughts rushing through your brain and will immediately center you in the present moment. The beautiful moments spent looking into your partner’s eyes gives you access to their soul, allowing you to experience the love and desire they have for you, in turn allowing you to relax and enjoy the moment. Try this: Undress slowly for your partner. Let them look at you. Let them marvel at every inch of your body. Once naked, sit facing each other and spend one minute staring into each other’s eyes with out breaking contact. Allow the feelings of vulnerability to surface, acknowledge them, and let them pass. Maybe you will feel intense desire or maybe you will begin to laugh uncontrollably with your partner. Either way, you will experience an intense sensuality that will likely be more rewarding than a quick-fix romp session.

3. Touch. Don’t look.

Your skin is your largest organ and it is filled with tiny nerve endings everywhere, ready to fire off messages of pleasure to the brain. But often times, most of these sensual spots go unnoticed or unused. Back of your elbows or knees? Fingertips? In between your fingers and toes? Behind the ears? The base of your neck or the top of your bum? When was the last time any of these places received the attention they deserve? Our genitals, nipples and lips get their fair share, but surprisingly, our finger tips are just as packed with nerve endings. I also know of people who cannot get aroused until the backs of their legs are gently stroked. Is it possible that you have a hidden hot spot waiting to be discovered? If we spend the time to explore our naked bodies through touch, we are giving permission to the world around us to slow down. We are proclaiming that our body, our temple, is worthy of pleasure. Try this: Ask your partner to blindfold you (if you feel comfortable with that) and allow them to explore your body through touch. Ask them to massage you, to trail their fingers or tongue all along your body, allow them to kiss your finger tips (and yes even toes) slowly and sensually. Allow them to explore all your nooks and crannies and to keep you guessing as to where they will go next. This results in your whole body entering a heightened state of arousal. You may get goose bumps, and you may make some interesting discoveries. When you are done, be sure to return the favour (bonus points if you use different objects and textures like soft skin brushes, pearls, feathers etc.)

4. Smile and give thanks.

This is a simple one, but it is all too often ignored. We may spend countless dollars on the latest magazine promoting explosive sex, only to be left feeling inadequate and dissatisfied at the end because it fell short on it’s promises. Our insecurity, fueled by the mythical stories of people finding nirvana between the sheets because they finally mastered reverse cowgirl, coupled with unrealistic Hollywood narratives of intensely passionate and ferocious encounters, only leads us into a deeper sense that we are somehow missing out on some big sexual secret. You may start to think you are the only one having slightly awkward functional sex with your socks still on. Hint: you’re not. The only difference between people having miserable sex and people having amazing sex is that the latter half is appreciating their experiences for what they are. It’s no secret that a positive outlook will attract more positivity into your life. The same goes for sex: smiling and giving thanks after each encounter will remind you that there was a part of it that really was enjoyable (you were just too busy focusing on what you “did wrong” and comparing yourself to unattainable ideals). Next time try focusing on all the enjoyable bits of the sexual experience. Reminding yourself about all the possible joys in each encounter will enable you to engage in sexual experiences with less pressure, which in turn will enable you to redefine what it means to have meaningful sex.

5. Don’t orgasm.

You must think I am crazy! Trust me on this one – nothing takes you out of the present moment more than trying to reach a goal. Inevitably, if you are trying to get somewhere, you are likely not paying attention to what is happening in the moment. This is ever so important during sexual activities simply because orgasms can be such powerful experiences; so much so that the smaller pleasures that we experience along the way get ignored and downplayed. This is especially true if we struggle “achieving” that goal; we feel let down, frustrated, guilty and we forget about what a wonderful experience we just shared. When orgasm becomes a by-product of sex, rather than an outcome, we are opening ourselves up to explore our sexuality in a more in depth, all encompassing, curious, and ultimately, more meaningful way. This is especially helpful for people who don’t feel in the mood, are tired, or feel performance anxiety and so avoid sexual intimacy. Try this: Do all the above tips, or pick your favourites, and then make a commitment with your partner to not have a sexual agenda. Instead, focus on sexual play: try new positions, try different paces and rhythms, try different locations, toys, or games, or simply try meditating together during sex by letting your bodies enter into their most intimate position and staying there still and silent until they merge into one. When you don’t have to get anywhere, you learn that exactly where you are is incredibly satisfying.

We all deserve to indulge in sexual and intimate pleasure no matter how busy or rushed we feel. Perhaps we can’t all move to a tropical island to get away from it all, but with a conscious effort, we can create our own paradise or oasis in the comfort of our bed. Allowing ourselves to enter into a sensual sanctuary from time to time will remind us that we are all worthy of pleasure and pampering. No matter how overwhelmed we may feel in life, no matter what we hope for our future, real time only exists in the here and now. Practicing mindfulness in the bedroom gives us the tools and ability to press pause in all aspects of life so that we may actually be able to enjoy the smell of the roses along our way.



What is Tantra Yoga?

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If the word Tantra conjures up scenes of sexuality, you’re not alone. The introduction of Tantric practices in the West has inadvertently become identified with a practice that’s laced with nudity, sexuality, and occasionally, promiscuity.

The truth is, Tantra may enhance your sex life, but only by deepening your connection to your energy and your body first. Although Tantric practices are founded on the principle of intimacy, intimacy is not purely physical. It’s the act of connecting so deeply that you feel as if you are getting a glimpse into your and perhaps another’s soul.

I’ve heard it described as “into me I see” based on the premise that we must gain an awareness of our true selves before we can forge the path of union with others.

What’s the point of Tantra Yoga?

The purpose of Tantra Yoga, is to further emotional wellbeing, aiding spiritual and physical health.

The exploration of the subtle energies within the body and their connection to the universe provide the opportunity to understand the purpose of life and the principles of union in new dimensions.

Rod Stryker, a prominent teacher of Tantra Yoga, describes the intention of Tantra Yoga, “(it) shows us what is blocking us from thriving and offers techniques that will help us attain spiritual and material prosperity.” Hence the goals of the Tantric practices are to enable us to prosper, to thrive and to merge the spiritual world and the material world into one.

What is Tantra Yoga?

The word Tantra means, “to weave or expand.” The root of the word yoga is “yuj” which means, “union.” Similar to some of the other 8 Forms of Yoga, Tantra Yoga blends elements of Raja, Bhakti, Karma, Kundalini, and Hatha practices. What distinguishes it from others is that it also weaves dynamics of other mystical practices as well such as: astrology, Ayurveda, crystals, and gemology to name a few. In utilizing these aspects, the Tantric practice aims to expand beyond perceived limitations of yogic philosophy and the asanas.

The comprehensive approach of Tantra Yoga incorporates conscious breathing practices, pranayama, and meditation, and may be practiced individually or in partnership with another. In both practices, the relationship between the micro (self) and the macro (others) is enhanced.

Vinyasa, as a moving meditation through postures, or asanas, also may be practiced partnering, as a blending of energies or as a sole practitioner. The aim is the same: to gain awareness of our strengths and weaknesses, the places where we resist union with ourselves and others, and cultivate the ability to consciously respond rather than unconsciously react to both our fears and desires. When that occurs, we reach a state of eternal bliss.

Five Tantra Yoga Practices

1. Peace Pose with Pranayam, Conscious Breathing

Begin in a cross-legged seated position, Sukhasana, or peace pose. Gaze down; if knees are higher than hip creases, sit on a yoga block or rolled up yoga mat to elevate the spine.

For solo practice, place hands in gyan mudra (also referred to as jnana mudra in some practices) with the tip of the index finger touching the tip of the thumb, extending out the other three fingers with the palms facing up and resting on knees or thighs. Gyan mudra, a yogic shape for the hands, is considered the prime mudra with many health and grounding benefits.

If practicing with a partner, sit back to back in peace pose, sukhasana. You’ll want to align your spines: start by scooting your seats as close to one another as possible. Option to use prithvi mudra, tips of the ring fingers touching the tips of the thumbs, remaining three fingers outstretched but relaxed. This mudra creates a circuitry igniting the heart meridian, or line of energy that extends from the ring fingers, extends up through the arms and confluences at heart center in both the front and backside of the chest.

Take five full breaths, focusing on smoothing out the length of the inhale to match the same length on the exhale.

2. Sun Salutations, Surya Namaskar

Start in mountain pose (tadasana/urdhva hastasana), standing at the top of your yoga mat. As an individual practice, you may like to practice facing a full-length mirror. In a partner practice, you could either practice facing one another or side by side. Bring palms to meet at heart center in anjali mudra (prayer gesture) or place one hand on your heart, and one on your partner’s heart. Take five deep breaths.

Extend arms overhead, mountain pose, then bow forward, keeping your heart open and gaze forward, and release your head into a forward fold (uttanasana). Bring hands to shins or thighs and lengthen through your spine for a halfway lift (ardha uttanasana). Repeat three times.

3. Modified Side Plank/ Partner Modified Side Plank Pose

Start in table pose, wrists aligned under shoulders, hands spread wide, and hips stacked over knees. For partner modified plank pose, you can lightly touch the crown of the head with one another while in table. Then extend your right shins behind you, toes curled under as you root right hand into the mat and open your chests towards one another.

For an individual practice, bring your left hand to rest over your heart as you stack your left shoulder over right so your heart is wide open. Your hips are also stacked creating a beautiful opening for what are considered our more vulnerable energetic centers: hips and hearts. In partner practice, connect left palms overhead. Enjoy five breaths. Return to table and then switch sides.

4. Partner Peace Pose, Entwined Sukhasana

Come into a loose, cross-legged position (typically the larger person in sukhasana first). Your partner then sits on your thighs and crosses their ankles behind your back. Touch your third eye centers (space between the eyebrows) as you both lengthen through your spines. You may choose to close your eyes or gaze lightly into each other’s eyes as you inhale and exhale through the nose. Take five breaths, allowing a natural synchronicity of breath, with your palms resting on the backside of your partner’s heart. Surrender to the intimate experience of both your and your partner’s heartbeat.

5. Child’s Pose (Balasana), Partner Child’s Pose

Bring your knees wide to the edges of your mat, fold forward resting your forehead on the mat, arms extended overhead but resting on the mat. (If knees are sensitive, you can place the folded edges of a blanket behind your knees before folding forward or rest your seat and perhaps forehead on yoga blocks.) If shoulders allow, bring your palms to touch in prayer, symbolic of union with all aspects of yourself.

For partner child’s pose, assume the same shape described above, with heads pointed towards one another. With arms outstretched, you can place your left palm down, and your palm up to connect with your partner’s palms. It’s said that our hands are an extension of our hearts. Envision your inhale emerging from your left palm, breathing in the essence of your partner, and exhaling through your right palm, sharing your essence with your partner.

For a more advanced practice, presuming both partners have healthy knees and spines, you may like to have one partner (typically the larger partner) stay in child’s pose, and the other, sit facing the opposite direction, on the low back of the partner in child’s pose. Slowly, keeping weight in your feet, begin to lower down, using the support of hands on the mat alongside the bottom partner’s hips. Eventually, lower your spine to align with the partner in child’s pose, and relax arms alongside, or extend your arms overhead, sliding palms underneath your partner’s palms.

Stay in close communication with your partner in child’s pose to ensure that each of the actions feels safe and available in their body.

Expand Your Capacity For Intimacy

If you’re practicing Tantra Yoga on your own or with a partner, you’re expanding your capacity for intimacy and union. With practice, we’re able to get up close and intimate with the beliefs and behaviors that hold us back from the intimacy we desire. In addition, Tantric techniques are provided to evolve beyond these barriers so that each and every one of us may thrive and prosper.

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