Sex is different things for different people, at different times in their lives. It's potentially casual. Fun. Penetrative or not. Passionate. Intimate. Intentional. Performative. Obligatory (cringey but yes). Religious. Spiritual. Boring. Sex is transformative. Sex is a love language (physical touch). Necessary. Goal-oriented. Freaky. Healing. Loving. Or...Tantric! And in many instances, they are a compilation of these things, and definitely some that weren't listed here, as in the case of the very last adjective that I listed "tantric sex".
At least, that's the impression I get from my own deductive reasoning skills, but what do I know other than what American Pie taught me? But my curiosity is piqued and I'll bet yours is too, so Tantric Holistic Therapist Prandhara Prem clued us in on exactly what tantric sex is and how we can have more of it. First things first, she answers the obvious, more glaring question: what is tantric sex? Prem describes tantric sex as "a meditative form of sex, which has the ability to heal the individuals performing the act of sex. It is a process of expansion through breathing techniques and sexual positions that allow you to be present in your body."
She continued, "It is a beautiful experience in which the couple increases their intimacy and connection through being in the moment and focusing on each other and the journey with no end goal in mind. Tantric sex takes away the pressure of having to perform or have a certain outcome." Furthermore, "Tantra is spiritual, thus tantric sex is sacred."
Though both tantric sex and Kama Sutra share the sacred element that allows for the exploration of "desire, intimacy, liberation, expansion, and curiosity", they differ in that Kama Sutra is sacred texts that shows specific sex positions for pleasure, expansion, healing and growth. Kama is the Sanskrit word for sex." There's less of an emphasis on the meditative parts such as breathing and sensual touch that reduces the stress that may come with goal-oriented sex.
Although the practice of tantric sex is for anyone -- she means that literally as you can practice tantra via solo sex, in monogamous hetero or homosexual partnerships, and ethically non-monogamous relationships as well -- it's important that you truly and authentically commit to the art of this practice. "If you are going to practice Tantric sex, learn the history and as much as you can and honor where it comes from. Honor the sacredness behind it," she advised. "The best way to not colonize or appropriate is to simply appreciate and pay tribute to its roots and not take it as your own. Make sure to not just have tantric sex just for fun or to get your rocks off. It is not about that at all. Maintain the sacredness and integrity of the practice."
If you feel capable of honoring your own curiosity while also honoring, respecting, and uplifting the cultural elements of this practice, move your Candyland piece a little closer to the winning end for more information on the "how" of it all.
We’ve got the who, what, and the why of tantric sex but, as promised, here’s more on the how.
Prem compared tantric sex to a reflexology massage, further explaining: "Our genitals have reflexology points just as our feet, hands, ears, and eyes do and so when we have conscious tantric sex, we can heal and balance the energy in the organs that are located on the genitals." If we, "think of it as having a reflexology massage...through conscious sex, we could massage those points thereby releasing the traumas and blockages within the genitals and body."
Prem recommended for those interested in the practice to begin by taking a course led by a practitioner or teacher whom they're comfortable with and reading Urban Tantra by Barbara Carrellas. But reading or taking a class means nothing if you don't practice. Prem urged us to put the techniques from books and classes to practice. Retaining this information requires more of a hands-on learning approach than we're used to, but I imagine these are the types of homework assignments all of us dreamt of in high school sex-ed. Though keep in mind, that reaping the word comes with doing the foundational work. It's like our expert says: "It is really all about practice, breathwork, and being open to experience new sensations."
Prem also recommended two other reads,The Heart of Tantric Sexand The Art of Everyday Ecstasy. She reminded us that while "most of the times you will see examples of heterosexual couples, you can modify the positions and techniques" based on sexual orientation and such. Also suggested was finding community through platforms such as Facebook and/or Instagram in order to find classes and the like.
Here are 6 steps to introduce tantric sex into the bedroom, per Prem:
1. Mood Setting
"Tantra is about expanding the senses so it really stimulates the senses through incense, soft or sensual music, candles, pillows for comfort, and dim lighting."
2. Proper Breathing
"This is important to get you grounded and centered. I recommend to my students to breathe in a nice, deep breaths through the nose and expand the belly to get a full breath. Next, exhale slowly and deeply through the mouth. The more you practice breathing, the more it becomes natural and automatic. Most of us breathe incorrectly with short, shallow breaths."
3. Eye Contact
"Trataka which is the Sanskrit word for eye-gazing. Eye contact will help you both feel more intimate and connected during sex. I tell my students to choose one eye to look at to prevent the eye movements which can be a distraction."
4. New Positions
"Sit in Yab Yum position and breathe together. This is a position in which one of the partners sits cross-legged and the other sits on top. In traditional heterosexual relationships, the male sits on the bottom and woman on top. In homosexual, you can have the bigger of the two on bottom or the one with more masculine energy on the bottom. Whichever feels better to you. Simply breathe together. As one breathes in, the other breathes out and vice versa. This helps to align the chakras and energy within the two of you."
5. The Foreplay
"Sensual or erotic touch or massage. A woman needs at least 20 minutes to open up and relax so the longer you can prevent penetration the better. It's also important to redefine sex so that it is not just the penetration. All of these steps are a part of having sex. Practice asking for what you want and saying how it is feeling. Many people think this will kill the mood, but it does the opposite. It takes off the pressure from your partner from wondering if they are pleasing you."
6. Open & Happy Endings
"You can actually end here and cuddle or introduce penetrative sex. These positions can incorporate the Kama Sutra positions or specific tantric sex positions. I teach specific positions which are different from Kama Sutra."
Though Prem has provided us with a ton of wonderful information and resources in order to get our feet wet, please be mindful that at some point you will need a teacher in order to grow your knowledge. Similarly to how a gym trainer ensures we're using proper technique, Prem suggested a teacher at some point in order to provide guidance and proper technique.
Last but absolutely not least was a gentle reminder from Prem: for those of you looking to journey, "the most important thing when it comes to tantric sex is to be open and trust the process. Surrender, open up, and have fun. Enjoy the journey. Tantra has to be lived and you can't be in your mind. Like tantra, tantric sex is all about the experience."
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Motor City native, Atlanta living. Sagittarius. Writer. Sexpert. Into all things magical, mystical, and unknown. I'll try anything at least once but you knew that the moment I revealed that I was a Sag.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
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4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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