Yab-yum (literally “father-mother”) is a Tibetan term for the image of a god and goddess having sex. Often, the male deity is shown sitting in lotus position and the goddess is shown sitting on his lap facing him, with her legs wrapped around him.
Maithuna is the Sanskrit term for the part of the Tantric ritual in which the partners are joined together, with the penis in the vagina. In Hindu art, maithuna is basically a Sanskrit synonym for the Tibetan term yab-yum.
So yab-yum and maithuna both originally referred to the same thing: sexual congress. However, most Tantrics I’ve met use these words differently, so I will too. The distinction they make between the two terms is that yab-yum refers to vaginal insertion with relative immobility, a period of “connected stillness,” while maithuna refers to the following period of active vaginal sex.
Any comfortable sexual position can be used for either phase, but there is obviously a tendency during the first (“quiet” or “yab-yum”) phase to prefer positions that lock the partners very closely together and do not allow much mobility. The favorites among the people I interviewed were:
- Variants of the classic yab-yum position, with the man sitting on a mat, armless chair, bench, stool, or bed. He sits in any comfortable position and the woman sits on his lap.
- Inverted missionary. The man lies on his back. The woman lowers herself onto his penis in cowgirl position and then lies down on her partner’s chest and extends her legs to the rear.
- Side-by-side. Start in missionary with the woman’s knees drawn up, then roll to one side. The man’s waist rests on the woman’s lower thigh, so pillows may be needed to support him and keep his weight from cutting off circulation in her leg.
- Man standing, with the woman sitting on a bureau or other item. (Use cushions to support her back and adjust her height. It may take a lot of experimentation to get the height just right.)
What follows is just one possible script for part three. Treat it as a suggestion or starting point and vary it as much as you like:
Yab-Yum (the “connected stillness” phase)
13. After the short break, if any, the female partner will normally still be aroused enough for comfortable insertion. If she isn’t, or if the male partner is not firm, a bit of foreplay and/or lube may be needed to get you both ready to continue.
14. When you’re both ready, shift to the mat or bed or your favorite spot and get into a position that allows you to stay linked together comfortably for at least 10-15 minutes.
15. Stay mostly immobile in this position while resuming your couple meditation. You have both recently experienced an intense erotic peak, so this will be a much more sensual, erotically charged form of meditation. Slowly caress and kiss each other wherever it feels good and wherever your chosen position allows.
16. The man’s penis may get less firm, but as long as it doesn’t come out, this usually doesn’t matter, since it will normally get firm again on its own in a few minutes, just from the warmth and pressure of the vagina. If this turns out to be a problem, experiment with other positions or maintain a very slow, gentle motion throughout yab-yum. Some couples have also found that the man can remain firm during yab-yum if the woman does occasional “Kegels,” clenching her pelvic floor muscles, so that’s something else you can try.
17. Synchronize your breathing, or try breathing alternately, so your partner breathes in while you breathe out and vice versa. With each breath, visualize the sexual warmth and tension in your groin and imagine drawing it upward like a ball of energy, and exchanging this energy with your partner with each breath. Concentrate less on your own sensations and focus instead on your partner’s body, senses, feelings, and responses.
Maithuna (active sexual congress)
18. When you both feel you just can’t stay still any longer, it’s time to shift up a gear. Move to a more active position, preferably one with the woman on top. (Some variant on cowgirl was the heavy favorite for the position to use for the start of maithuna.) If the female partner is lagging behind in arousal, use fingers or a vibrator to provide clitoral stimulation to increase her arousal. If she is multi-orgasmic, as most Tantric women are, many couples indulge in some preliminary orgasms for her at this point.
19. Continue vaginal sex as long as possible with a relatively slow stroke. (Most couples find it works best if the woman controls the pace at this point, which is why cowgirl is preferred.) Continue with your visualization of sexual energy and your focus on what your partner is feeling with every stroke.
20. Change positions as desired when you are ready to up the pace still further. When you feel you can’t control it any further, go into high gear and finish in whatever way feels best for both of you!
As you can see, this is a long and carefully orchestrated sexual program that is designed around the “Five Keys to Tantra” I described earlier: extended time, deep relaxation, prolonged arousal, controlled attention, and intimate knowledge. It isn’t simple or easy to learn Tantra, or to find out what works best for both of you and customize it to your needs as a couple, but if you take the time to learn all parts of it, it can be deeply rewarding for you both!