Sometimes, sex can be a little wham-bam. Let me introduce you to the exact opposite of that: tantric sex. It's that long, slow, "souls-connecting" type of sex that honestly sounds simultaneously intimidating and sexy AF.
You've probably heard about tantric sex before. Maybe you have a vague sense that it involves prolonging a dude's erection (which it kind of does). But tantric sex has actually been around for thousands of years and has origins in the same teachings as yoga.
"Tantra is an ancient Hindu practice, translating to the weaving and expansion of energy, that promotes deeper intimacy by using breath, slower touch, energy, and delayed orgasm," says Dawn Michael, Ph.D., certified sexuality counsellor, clinical sexologist, and author of My Husband Won't Have Sex With Me. "It's not orgasm-focused, so it works for individuals who may have anxiety achieving an orgasm too fast or not at all."
There's no rulebook, per say, but at the heart of tantra are sexual rituals that get you in the mood and help you connect with your partner. One biggie: "worshipping" or serving each other. Partners turn the focus on one another (like through massage), which prolongs and builds arousal, say Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, co-authors of Tantra for Erotic Empowerment and The Essence of Tantric Sexuality.
Perhaps the best part of tantric sex is that it benefits everyone. "Tantra can help men suffering from premature ejaculation because it slows down the process of sex and removes the pressure to perform," says Tammy Nelson, Ph.D. licensed psychotherapist, relationship expert, and author of Getting the Sex You Want. "For women, learning to relax and be in the moment can help with orgasmic function as well as building desire." It can also help your relationship outside the bedroom by improving intimate communication.
While orgasms aren't the goal, per say, "tantric orgasms" are often referred to as transcendental experiences, says Sally Valentine, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist in Boca Raton, Florida.
Sign me up, right? But how the heck do you go for it? First, talk it over with your partner. Give them the deets on what it is, and why you want to try it (you know: deeper intimacy, passion, more satisfying sex, or just for fun). Once your boo gives you the thumbs up, start incorporating the art of tantra into your sex routine with these simple steps.
SET THE SCENE
Get into the mood is by incorporating rituals into sex. That can be anything, such as setting up your space as a sanctuary with candles, pillows, and soft music. What's most important is that you make sex feel, well, special. "You want a sense that sex is something important and distinct from everyday life," say Johnson and Michaels.
START BY BREATHING
Just as with yoga, tantra begins with and centres around the breath. Try this method recommended by Valentine: Take a full breath in through your nose. On the inhale, fill up your belly with air. Exhale. (Are you doing it right? When you place your hands over your belly, you should feel it expand on the inhale and return to normal on the exhale.)
Visualise that you’re pushing the breath down through your pelvis, knees, and floor. Practice the belly breathing technique a couple times before you bring it into sex so that it becomes more automatic, she recommends.
MAKE EYE CONTACT
Eye contact will help you two feel closer during sex. Focus on each other. Traditionally, this is by looking into their left eye, but you can look into both if that's more comfortable to you.
GIVE EACH OTHER MASSAGES
Give each other mini erotic massages. David Yarian, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist, recommends switching between who gives and receives pleasure. For instance, you might ask your partner to give you a foot rub for two minutes, and then you would do whatever your partner says they’re craving for two minutes.
During your turn, give your partner feedback (for example, “to the left,” “a little more pressure would be great,” etc.). Then, when it’s your partner’s turn, encourage them to do the same. “This is a way of practising an element of love-making very intentionally as a way to learn—learn how to be the best lover possible for our partner,” says Yarian. And vice-versa, of course.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE MOVEMENT OF YOUR BODY
TRY YAB YUM
There's a traditional tantric position called "yab yum" that you might want to try to “help align energies necessary for a powerful tantric love connection,” Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D., writes in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex. Ask your partner to sit on the floor cross-legged. Facing them, climb on top and put your legs around their body. If you need, you can put a pillow under your rear.
That said, you can make any position tantric, so as long as it feels good and you're comfortable. (Awkward positions are distracting. So yeah, no butter churner.)
"Delaying orgasm often intensifies the experience," say Johnson and Michaels. "Remaining in a high state of arousal can also help people experience energetic orgasms, or orgasms without ejaculating," they add. Delaying an orgasm means you bring yourself to the brink of having one, only to back off and delay it. Called edging, it's best to give it a whirl while masturbating to get a handle on the technique.
Practice getting yourself up to the point of orgasm, then stopping, and starting up again. Then, when you're with your partner, you can take turns getting each other up toward climax, sliding back down, and then going back up again toward orgasm before surrendering to the fireworks finale.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.