By Dr. Jenn Mann
Updated: May 08, 2018 @ 2:41 pm
Eva Hill

DEAR DR. JENN,

I’ve heard of tantric sex, but I’m not the ashram, incense, spiritual type when it comes to lovemaking. Do I need to be? —Not a Yogi

DEAR NOT A YOGI,

There’s a reason that tantric sex has been around for an estimated 3000-5000 years. The promise of longer, stronger, more intense orgasms is intriguing (not to mention alleged multiples for all genders!). But those who practice tantra—a spiritual philosophy about how all energy in the universe is connected—know that it’s not just about ultra-twisty sex positions. Practitioners use its principles of mindfulness, breathing work, and focused awareness to deepen all arenas of life. And yes, one of those arenas is really, really good sex.

Unlike the bone-and-bail sexual experiences you might associate with a Tinder hookup, tantric sex is about a deeper, more connected experience. Remember those reports that Sting and his wife Trudie regularly engaged in hours-long, tantric love-making sessions? Well, good for the couple, but you don’t need to block out your day to benefit from the tools and philosophies of tantric sex. Nor do you need to join an ashram or have mega-flexible limbs. But you can enhance a “vanilla" sex life by borrowing from the tantric playbook. Below, pick and choose from a buffet of nine tantric principles that will make your regular sex all that much sexier.

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1. Prep

In Western culture we tend to romanticize the idea of being spontaneous and swept up in the moment, but in tantra, preparation and planning is part of the foreplay that intensifies passion. Creating a sacred space, whether to connect with a higher power or with your partner, is key. Setting the mood with lighting, temperature, and scents, and picking what you are going to wear and the props you are going to use are all part of the rituals of tantric sex. That also means carving out a specific time for sex—and possibly even talking about it in the lead-up. These rituals show clear intention and conscious preparation. Your mind and body need to be prepared for a sensual encounter too. Take a bath or shower. Clear your mind of your day and your stress. Meditate, journal, dance, scream into a pillow—or whatever you need to do to let go. Delineate the end of the work day by taking off your work clothes and putting on something sensual. Sex, in tantra, is a well thought out experience; your mind needs to be in the right state to give and receive pleasure.

2. Breathe in sync

Have you ever noticed how your breathing changes when you are stressed out? It tends to get quicker and more shallow. We regulate ourselves with our breathing, and the tantric community believes that breathing properly is the key to ecstasy. When engaging in sex, that means breathing together. Try having one partner (often the male, if the couple is heterosexual) sit in Yab-Yum position a.k.a. cross legged, while the other partner (often the female, if the couple is heterosexual) sits in his lap, facing him and wrapping her legs around his side. Look into each other’s eyes and synchronize your breathing. If you are not used to this kind of emotional intimacy, you may feel uncomfortable at first. Once you have both gotten used to the experience, try to maintain this eye contact throughout the lovemaking experience.

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3. Slow way down

There is no rushing in tantric sex. It’s about an extended erotic experience. Try moving your hands at one-tenth of the speed you normally do. Allow yourself to linger so you and your partner can enjoy every delicious moment.

4. Practice mindfulness

Being present and paying attention to what is happening in the moment is a major part of tantra, both in and out of the bedroom. This means shooing away any thoughts that creep into your mind during sex. In order to do this, let go of judgements, comparisons, criticisms, and self-consciousness. Piece of cake, right? Do your best to silence intrusive thoughts and minimize distractions.

5. Give or receive, not both

It is challenging to give your full attention to two things at once. Try taking turns being the giver and the receiver. Allow yourself to surrender to the sensations and erotic experiences of receiving—totally guilt free. When you give, tune into your lover’s body and reactions in order to give him or her the most pleasurable experience possible.

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6. Delay

Tantric sex isn't about orgasm. It is about extending the sensual experience for both partners. This maximizes the love-making experience, allowing energy to be exchanged between partners for a mutually satisfying experience. When you think you’re almost there, take a breath and delay. That can mean building up to a mind-blowing orgasm—but it doesn't necessarily need to. Tantric sex it is about the journey, not the destination.

7. Don’t move linearly

Often, typical heterosexual sex has a beginning (foreplay), middle (intercourse), and end (orgasm). Tantric sex is about creative, sensual play and connection with your partner. Switch up the order of your usual moves and rather than building toward orgasm, circle back to what you consider foreplay.

8. Focus on process over outcome

Leave your expectations at the door. We’ve all been in that situation where we get so focused on getting to the orgasm that it prevents us from actually getting there. Try totally focusing on the sensations without any anticipation of or prediction about what will come next.

You can practice all these approaches without even leaving the vanilla zone. Consider them your sprinkles.

In Hump Day, where award-winning psychotherapist and TV host Dr. Jenn Mann answers your sexiest questions—unjudged and unfiltered. Email us anonymously at HumpDay@instyle.com.

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