Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reviews: Three Guides to Sensual Massage and Manual and Oral Sex

If you're looking for an illustrated how-to manual, but you get turned off by porn and explicit nudity, I have a couple of suggestion for you this month.

I get a fair number of requests for instructional videos and books on three related subjects:  erotic massage, hand jobs, and oral sex.  There seems to be something about all three that makes people insecure about just winging it, and in all three cases, there are a lot of tips and tricks that many people never discover on their own that can make their partners' experiences much more enjoyable.

We're at a peculiar stage as a society where it is actually much easier to find porn, which is widely available for free of you are willing to search for it, than it is to find good non-pornographic visual materials to recommend.  However, there are still many people who are not comfortable with porn, or indeed anything too explicit, and there is much less in the way of good material for this group.

By coincidence, I have received two items in the last couple of months that should appeal to this underserved audience.  The first is a tasteful and beautifully produced massage book, Erotic Massage for Couples: Head to Toe Techniques to Arouse and Gratify Your Partner, by Sylvia Patterson.  And the second is an instructional DVD, Blow Him Away! by Dr. Sayaka Adachi, that provides a detailed guide to manual and oral techniques that you can use during lingam massage.

That makes this also a good time to review another book, Ian Kerner's She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, which is devoted to manual and oral techniques that you can use while giving a yoni massage.

Erotic Massage for Couples

To begin with, there's no such thing as the "best" book on this kind of topic.  The best book for you might seem bland and boring to some people and still be too explicit or advanced for others.  So this is less about "best" in the abstract than it is about you and your own comfort level and your own level of knowledge.

This book is for comparative beginners who have not studied other serious massage books.  Also, it's visually beautiful, but rather tame.  Bare breasts and buttocks are shown, but no genitals or even pubic hair.  If that fits your degree of experience and your comfort level, this could be perfect choice.

The photography is sensual without being at all salacious and the angles are well-chosen for illustrating the various massage techniques.  If you want to learn massage at a professional level, this book won't help, but it's an excellent starting point if you simply want to learn some basic techniques that you can incorporate into your tantric massages.

The first 33 pages are a paean to the delights and the power of human touch - something I've discussed at length here on EP - as well as a simple program for self-exploration. This is followed by about 120 pages of sensual massage techniques and variations that you can learn and play with.  Two short sections are tacked onto the end, one dealing with supposedly "aphrodisiac" recipes - more accurately, some sensual taste treats - and a somewhat misleading section on oils that mixes up massage oils with aromatic oils and "essential" oils.

(On the last point, many products sold as aromatic and essential oils contain ingredients that can irritate the skin, especially the genitals, something I think should have been emphasized.  My recommendation would be to stick either to pure vegetable oils or to lubes that are marked as being safe for sex.

Coconut, almond, and walnut oil all taste and smell good and are safe even for most people with super-sensitive skin, as long as neither person has nut allergies.  However, it is ALWAYS a good idea to do a small patch test on the inside of your forearm and your partner's forearm at least 24 hours before slathering your body with something new, whether it's massage oil, sex lube, or just a new brand of body soap!)

Blow Him Away!

How do you do an instructional video for lingam massage techniques without offending those who are too prim for porn?  Here's one way:  take a cute, vivacious Japanese-American sexologist and have her conduct a living room "seminar" with four housewives, using some zucchini and a few fairly abstract dildos.  There are a lot of jokes and laughs, but Dr. Sayaka Adachi does an admirable job of covering the basic hand job and BJ techniques, plus many more-advanced ones, without ever being crude about it.

Dr. Sayaka demonstrates many of the moves I described in the seven-part series that starts here, including many two-handed maneuvers and the combined hand-and-mouth technique I recommend for oral if you are not a veteran deep-throater.  Altogether, this is a very thorough guide to the most effective techniques for both oral and manual lingam massage.  It's highly recommended even if you aren't too shy to look for porn, and of course it is doubly recommended if porn turns you off.

She Comes First

Ian Kerner's She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman isn't a video, but it is one of the clearest and most complete books available on effective techniques for oral and manual yoni massage.  As is the case with "Dr. Sayaka," Kerner's overall approach is enthusiastic, playful, and joyfully giving, which is essential for successful tantric couples.

As always, no book or video is perfect for everyone, so I recommend that you read the other reviews on Amazon to see if this is going to be a good fit for you, but for most people who are relatively new to extended "yoni worship" this is a treasure house of ideas and a source of inspiration.  Your partner will be glad you got it!

Other resources

If you have favorite books, videos, websites, or other sources, please tell me about them and I will pas along your recommendations to other tantric explorers!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mailbag #5: Tantra for women and the FC2 for anal

Lesbian Tantra

Two months ago I posted some information about gay tantra for men and asked for input from lesbian couples.  I've received one response so far, and I want to share that one with you here.  (I changed the names.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Grounding" or "Energy Management" Techniques

Happy holidays, everyone!

As we end the year, I want to talk about a topic that frequently comes up if you study with, or read books by, tantric gurus who have been affected by Chinese/Taoist approaches to tantra.  

Here's one version of the question asked on a Q&A site:

What do tantric/sexual grounding or "energy management" techniques involve, and what is their purpose?  Are grounding techniques and energy management commonly practice by people who practice tantric sex? Why?
I ask because when I read about tantra, including people's personal experiences, people tend to promote the idea of being careful with things like sexual and kundalini energy.
It makes sense to me that it is important to be careful with any practice, especially when getting started. This is true for almost anything we do with the physical body.
E.g. In reference to energy, the body has an electrical system, and it stands to reason that we could overwhelm it, just like we can injure a muscle if we don't  take care when exercising.  And I know from personal experience that I experience strong energetic sensations when practicing solo tantra.
So, getting back to my questions: what do tantric or sexual grounding or "energy management" techniques involve, and what is their purpose?
I could read lots about this, but I'd have to wade through lots of stuff I don't really resonate with.  I'd like if someone could just boil it down to simple explanations that are practical and applicable to many people. I'm fine with spiritual terms and concepts, I just prefer them to be clear, practical, and consistent, rather than obscure and arcane.

And my answer:

I've been meditating, doing yoga, and studying and practicing tantric sex for more than 20 years.  I've read and listened to far too much in the way of "spiritual" theorizing about the right and wrong ways to do things.  It is true that a lot of people do practice various kinds of magical or ritual behavior according to various theories about psychic, spiritual, or even electrical "energy" in the body, but it is also true that no one has demonstrated any basis for those beliefs, or theories, or practices, or any harm from ignoring them.

Mind you, I'm not questioning the benefits of meditation or tantric sex, or the reality of the sensations they can produce, which - as you have already discovered - can be profound. It's the elaborate pre-scientific explanations that people have come up with that are clearly bogus.

The classic example is Kundalini yoga.  In its original form, according to believers, it involved awakening the "Shakti energy" coiled around the base of the spine and moving it up along the "nadis" or channels through a series of "chakras" or waypoints.  Once the energy reaches the topmost chakra, this is supposed to represent enlightenment or empowerment, granting the successful yogi the ability to perform a wide variety of magical powers, including levitation, healing, and gaining immortality.

Taoist (aka Daoist) magical traditions include a very similar practice, but with the caveat that this "energy" is dangerous if allowed to remain loose and uncontrolled, so you must "complete the circuit," bringing the energy back down to the bottom.  If not, according to Taoist teachings, you will supposedly fry your brain, drive yourself insane, or give yourself a variety of unpleasant diseases.

This, of course, provided a wonderful way to explain away anything bad that happened to a student or master of this art:  if he got sick or died, it must be because he got arrogant and careless and mishandled the energy, failing to complete the circuit or ground himself properly at the end!

This created a seamless, self-validating, and undisprovable mental structure that perfectly explained both health and disease.  There's only one problem:  it didn't explain all those classic Kundalini practitioners who don't practice any kind of energy return or grounding ritual, and still seem to be sane and healthy.

This hasn't kept the Taoists from insisting emphatically that handling psychic energy without grounding it or closing the loop is extremely dangerous, but it does rather undermine their credibility.  However, the gurusphere in the U.S. is dominated by whatever appeals to the most gullible, so the Taoists are winning, at least over here.

If this "energy" were actually electrical energy, it would be easy to measure its movement in response to meditation.  No such thing has ever been found, particularly not at levels that could actually harm your body or your nervous system.  So you can feel completely safe: you are not going to electrocute yourself by doing yoga or having tantric sex, even if you don't "ground" yourself.

I've done enough yoga, meditation, and tantric sex over the last two decades to satisfy myself that what practitioners refer to as "energy" moving around in the body actually consists of changes in the somatic and sensory areas of the brain, the parts of the brain that keep track of our bodies and interpret sensations.  

What you are doing when you practice Kundalini yoga is focusing your attention exclusively on one part of your body in a specific way for long enough to alter the responses of your sensory and proprioceptive centers.  Then, as you shift your attention upward, you gradually move or extend the area of altered perception upward.  

Incidentally, the chakras aren't real.  They're just mental checkpoints.  The number wasn't even standardized at seven until a century ago, when an Englishman, John Woodroffe, pen-named "Arthur Avalon," wrote The Serpent Power: The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga.  He described seven chakras, but you can use five or eight or ten, whatever number helps you have the greatest control of your meditation as you move gradually upward.

If you can keep your focus intently enough and keep it going long enough, so that you alter your perception of your whole trunk, neck, face, and head, you are basically inducing a strong altered state of awareness that feels extremely peculiar and very, very different from normal activity and sensation.  You are acutely aware of every sensation at once and you feel like you are crackling with energy.  It really does feel like you could fly if you wanted to.

The key point, however, is that this is happening inside your brain, even though it feels like it is happening in your body.  Instead of having your attention hopscotching around, focusing on one little spot at a time and blocking out the rest, you've got all the circuits wide open, attending to a large part of your body, and the resultant sensory cataract feels wild, powerful, and intense.

I don't blame anyone for interpreting this as some sort of physical or spiritual energy moving inside the body, because that's absolutely what it feels like.  But there's no evidence whatsoever that it actually is happening that way, and a great deal of evidence that it is really happening inside the parts of the brain that interpret sensations from the body.

And the problem comes when people start reifying metaphors like "energy" and constructing elaborate theories based on them, as if they were real.  No, it's not real energy.  No, it's not going to kill you or hurt you.

During my research, I interviewed 59 couples who had practiced tantric sex for many years, often decades.  None of these veteran tantric practitioners practice any kind of "energy grounding," and none show any signs of harm from not doing so.  Counting my partner and myself, that's 120 people who can testify that grounding rituals aren't necessary.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tantra Workshops, Gay Tantra, and More

Happy Turkey Day, for all American readers!

I've just enjoyed my second Thanksgiving dinner in four days, first with Z's amazing family, including his sister and her husband and kids, and then with my brother and his wonderful wife and daughters, so I'm feeling very happy, thankful for my family, and stuffed!  I hope those of you who celebrate T-day had a great week too!

Tantra Coaching and Workshops

Ever since I started this blog, I've had a steady trickle of questions about personal coaching or workshops.  As far as I'm concerned personally, the answer has to be no.  I did this once for a young couple about a decade ago, and Z just found it too embarrassing and awkward, so part of my deal with him when I went public with this blog was that I would not get involved in teaching tantra in a personal way.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Origins and Meaning of "Tantra"

I want to move some posts from other spots over to this blog, so I thought this one on the origin and the various meanings of the word "tantra" would be a good place to start.

The word "tantra" means (at least) four different things:

Tantra (1) – A tradition of supernatural ritual magic found within manybranches of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and to a lesser extent Daoism.  Also known as Tantrism.

Tantra (2) – A ritual, formula, or procedure described in a text or esoteric teaching, especially in Hinduism and in Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism).

Tantra (3) – A written text describing a tantra (2) and recognized as authentic by one or more sects of one of the Asian religions.  Most date from the 5th through 10th centuries CE when religious turmoil and increased literacy led to a great upsurge in interest in learning and recording the secrets of ancient magic.

Tantra (4) – Tantric sex, the common Western term for a set of sexual practices that are allegedly derived from sexual rituals that originated roughly 2500-5000 years ago in the Indus Valley region of India.  Also known as neotantra, modern tantra, urban tantra, and sacred sex.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Woman on top - sex in the "Cowgirl" position

I love being on top.  I mention it often on this blog and it's pretty close to a standard after the yab-yum stage during tantra, but I also love it for regular sex.  My partner and I tend to begin that way more often than not.  But after getting several private questions and a plaintive one on another website, I've begun to realize that a fair number of women are scared to try it, so I thought I would share some tips.

This was the question:

How do you support yourself as a woman when you are on top during sex? Do you move up and down or do you rock back and forth? Are you sitting completely upright?  Besides being shy about "being on top," I don't really know the logistics of how to do it.  Any tips?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The most intense orgasm for women

This was a question I answered elsewhere, so I thought I would share my answer here, too.  Some of it will be redundant for those of you who have read through this blog from the start, but it still may be fun to see it summed up in one place!  :)

What is the most intense orgasm a woman can have?

I've discussed this question at length with many women and their spouses/long-term partners.  All are very experienced with tantric sex, and all of the women have at least occasionally experienced real monster orgasms.

The first observation, and this was unanimous, is that "most intense" does not equal "best."  This is partly because, as others have pointed out, you hit a circuit breaker when things get to the max intensity level and then you miss what comes after.  Around a dozen of the women I talked to have blacked out at least once during an orgasm.  Several reported feeling woozy or nauseous afterward and none of them thought passing out was fun.  It made all of them a bit cautious about pushing for a repeat.