“Get out of your head!” Focusing on the orgasm can stop the orgasm completely. Instead, focus on the ABCs of sex. Not the birds and the bees, but the nursing ABCs, Airway, Breathing and Circulation, this is the way to pleasure my friends.
Perhaps you’ve heard that Sting, the lead singer of the Police turned soft rock balladeer, has 7 hour Tantric sex sessions with his partner. Or maybe you’ve heard that if you practice hard enough, your orgasm can last over an hour, and you think to yourself, “I want some of that.” Or you may also think, “damn, I can’t even poop without someone interrupting, how the hell am I going to have sex for 7 hours… wait how many sick days do I have left?” But let’s be real, most of us don’t have that kind of time. And Sting has broken down those 7 hours to include dinner and a movie. So it’s not all lingam and yoni twiddling, add some commute time and conversation in there, and we have brought it down to a solid 30 minute session of focused Tantric sex. Far more doable for the majority of us.
So what exactly is “Tantric” or “Tantra?” First off, there is white tantra which is focused on spirituality and using sexual energy for transformation without losing your sexual energy, black tantra which is focused on power and ejaculation, and finally red tantra which is all about sexual connection. What unites all three is the use of breath.
"There is actually three types of Tantric Yoga. One is White Tantric Yoga that can remove the garbage from your subconscious mind, which blocks you from seeing your real self. It does involve the male & female energy, and does not involve sexual intercourse, nor do you take off your clothes. The second is Red Tantric and directs the energy for sensual purposes. And the third is Black Tantric that directs the energy to manipulate another human being. All other forms of Tantra, are an offshoot of this." -Yogi Bhajan
I personally have been practicing a form of white tantric yoga called Kundalini for ten years. Kundalini, like all tantra, is all about the ABCs, by breathing and chanting you know your airway is clear, your breathing is strong and you get your circulation going by grinding it out with the Sufi Grind. Sufi Grind is easy - you sit and grind your sitz bones and pelvis into the earth, in a circular motion, et voila! While Kundalini seems to be focused only on the spiritual practice, it definitely bleeds red, moving energy from the base to the crown and translates easily into the bedroom.
Three studies by Drs. Bhikav, Karmarkar, and Anand found that yoga not only increases a woman’s sexual satisfaction but male erections as well. The first study was focused on premature ejaculation and they found that prozac and yoga delayed the final explosion. Their second study focused on 6 men who went to yoga camp and learned a yoga sequence that they did for 12 weeks; the result was higher sexual satisfaction. Finally, in the third study the focus was on women; they too went to yoga camp, were taught a 12-week yoga practice and the result was that sexual function increased, especially for the women over 45 years old. So what does that all mean? When the body moves, you breathe more and the energy you generate lights a sexual fire. (Read more about Sexercise, one of my older posts).
Here’s another example of yoga linking breathing, movement and tantra (white): Freediver grinding!
Moving more directly into the bedroom, many studies have shown that playing with your breath works when you are looking for sexual satisfaction. This idea is not a new age notion. I was 20 when I watched sexologist Betty Dodson, PhD., author of Sex for One, teach a bunch of hairy naked women how to use the Hitachi Wand and moan. She was showing them how to make noise when they masturbated not for the erotic pleasure of sound, but because by making sound they were sure to breathe, and breathe deeply.
By performing rapid breathing, or breath of fire, you activate the sympathetic nervous system (ie. the fight or flight response) and a little bit of this type of stress increases sexual desire, arousal. This is especially true for female-bodied people and in fact, other studies have been conducted that showed that desire is so closely linked to the mind that women can consciously and subconsciously turn themselves off or even reach orgasm with just a thought and a breath. Barbara Carrellas, the creator of Urban Tantra, has mastered the practice of tantric yoga, that of the red variety, and is able to cum at will, fully-clothed, alone and hands-free. Yes, you read that right, just using her breath. Look Ma, no hands.
However, sometimes people become “a little extra,” and can take playing with the breath too far, and in fact many have actually died trying to test the limits like in the case of auto-erotic asphyxiation, i.e. the intended restriction of oxygen to the brain for the purposes of sexual arousal. While cutting off the flow of oxygen to enhance orgasm may be intriguing, and in fact Masters & Johnson noticed that men are prone to stop breathing at the point of orgasm, there are limits. Hanging yourself for stronger orgasms is way beyond those limits.
Speaking of limits, because you know I’m all about consent, in the world of BDSM, mastery of the ABCs is called breath control. It may involve a rope, a sash or a partner that applies the breath control. The result, for those that love this type of play, is an intense sexual experience. The artist Bob Flanagan, a Supermasochist, talked about the erotic pleasure he felt when his partner would strangle him as part of their S/M sessions. What makes it more intriguing is that he had cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease with a life expectancy of 20-30 years back in the 90s and he credited his long (and painful) survival of 43 years to his BDSM lifestyle. For the Supermasochist, taking control of his breath by being flogged, hung up, struck and choked by his mistress was about declaring mastery over one’s body, about knowing how to use the body and about an acceptance that you only get one body and you will use it until it’s all used up. Again this is all about consent and trust between partners.
While I continue to practice Kundalini, I have also recently started to add to my breathing routines with the Superhuman (not Supermasochist) practices of Wim Hof, who plays with deep breathing and movement free-of-breathing. I have experienced some interesting reactions, including an endurance that I had not noticed before But it’s the focus of breath and presence that has been the most impressive result, so impressive in fact, that I had sex with Wim. Let me clarify, he wasn’t actually there and I didn’t fantasize about him but I did decide to see what kind of energy and oxygen was moving through me while I rested comfortably without breath. Sometimes we rest with our hands down our pants, and it was amazing. In Kundalini, orgasms are called tiding, and after practicing Wim Hof, the tide was high and I was holding on, and on, and on.
Each sexual act has the potential to create an energy, a force, that heals. You can feel it. This true merger is one of the gifts of sexuality and intimacy. This is grace. ...Back to each other without the weight of roles, identity, or ego getting in the way. Instead, you merge in the breath. ~Everyday Grace, Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa
If you are interested in exploring the use of breath during sex, with a partner or solo, take it slow. Go to a yoga class or try one online, if you haven’t experienced consciously breathing before. One FREE series that is quick and effective is Kundalini Lounge’s Kundalini for Weight Loss. Don’t be concerned about the weightloss part, just know that it is a 40-day Kundalini series that will give you a taste of the practice, or check out the work of Wim Hof. Or if you want to go straight to the hot stuff and feel like diving deep into the world of erotic tantra, check out Barbara Carrellas’ workshop. Once you notice the breath, play with it, safely of course, poco a poco, and see what comes up. These practices will get your ABCs going and you can take them back to the bedroom with you.
Let me know how it goes but I may not hold my breath for your comments. Or maybe I will.
Brotto, L. A., Chivers, M. L., Millman, R. D., & Albert, A. (2016). Mindfulness-based sex therapy improves genital-subjective arousal concordance in women with sexual desire/arousal difficulties. Archives of sexual behavior, 45(8), 1907-1921.
Dhikav, V., Karmarkar, G., & Anand, K. YOGA AND SEXUALITY: A NOVEL WAY TO IMPROVE SEXUAL FUNCTIONING.
Estupinyà, P. (2016). Having an Orgasm with the Power of the Mind. In S= EX² (pp. 189-197). Springer International Publishing.
Khalsa, S. P. (2010). Everyday grace: the art of being a woman. Santa Cruz, NM: Kundalini Research Institute.