Some couples go straight from yab-yum to slow intercourse and simply maintain that as long as possible before increasing intensity at the very end. Some are more active, but shift positions fairly often and include frequent interludes for clitoral stimulation by other means. (Usually, this is to give the woman a few orgasms while giving the man a chance to let his level of arousal decline a bit from the brink to prevent an early orgasm by him.) Some actually shift back into yab-yum, or simply hold still and cuddle for a while, doing this several times during maithuna.
Positions for Starting MaithunaMost of the couples I interviewed transition from yab-yum into the cowgirl position or one of the other woman-on-top positions. If you’re already sitting on the bed in the classic yab-yum "lotus" position, or something similar, the transition can be as simple as the man leaning back and lowering his shoulders to the bed or mat. However, if you need to move from where you are to the bed, try to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible. Yab-yum should be the first, slow part of maithuna, not something separate from it.
Woman on top is favored by most couples for three reasons. First, it allows easier access to the clitoris without requiring the partners to separate, so that if the woman’s level of arousal is lagging behind the man’s, they can use fingers or a vibrator to get her caught up.
Second, for the same reason, it is easier for her to have blended clitoral/vaginal orgasms in this position without necessarily triggering the man’s orgasm. This is highly desirable if the woman is multi-orgasmic and the man is not.
Finally, most couples find that it is easier to control arousal and extend maithuna if the woman controls the pace. As men get highly aroused, they tend to speed up the stroke unconsciously, and even with the best of intentions, this can be hard to avoid.
In the classic cowgirl position, the woman kneels astride the man’s hips. She can sit upright or lean forward at a forty-five degree angle, supporting part of her weight on her extended arms. She can lift her hips up and down, but this creates fairly intense friction for the man and less for the woman, so most of our couples prefer the alternative, in which the woman rocks or slides forward and backward.
This directly grinds or rubs the clitoris against the man’s pubic bone, providing external stimulus. It also angles the penis forward inside the vagina, so the head of the penis presses against the g-spot as it slides in and out, providing a lot of internal stimulus as well. (For more on the cowgirl position, click on this link.)
The other favorite woman-on-top position for some couples is a variant in which the man lies on his back with one knee raised so his thigh is almost vertical. The woman turns so that she is straddling his raised leg, allowing her to rub her clit against her partner’s thigh as she raises and lowers her body. This can provide strong stimulation to both partners, so use it wisely!
One or both of these positions may be uncomfortable for any particular couple because of build or proportions, or they may simply not work as well for you as some others. One couple who used inverted missionary for both yab-yum and at least the first half of maithuna told me that they tried the two previous positions, but didn’t like them because they separated the couple, breaking the strong emotional connection built up during yab-yum. They strongly preferred positions that kept them in close contact, face-to-face.
You and your partner will have to experiment and find what works best for you. But remember that the goal is not just prolonging the arousal, maximizing the pleasure, and having wonderful orgasms, but doing so without breaking that intense emotional connection you have built up through the preliminaries, the massage, and yab-yum. Because it is that connection that creates the basis for one of the most astonishing things about Tantra: the sensation of merging with your partner and sharing each other's bodies and sensations.
Becoming OneI’m going to devote several posts to unraveling the science behind what is happening during this experience. It doesn't really matter whether we call it “an illusion” or “a subjective experience,” or choose, along with the mystically-inclined, to believe that it is a true spiritual merging of souls. Regardless of what we call it, it's a very powerful and moving experience.
Tantra is not the only way to experience this. It can happen during any extremely intense, passionate, prolonged sexual experience. Indeed, most languages and cultures have stories or idioms that reflect attempts to describe this experience, and in many it becomes a poetic way to describe marriage or great love: becoming one person, one body, one flesh, or "one soul in two bodies" (attributed to Aristotle by Laertes). There are references to this subjective experience in Genesis, in the Koran, in ancient Persian and Hindu love poems and stories, and in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, just to mention a few.
It’s clear from the literature that this is an unusual experience and one that is literally awe-inspiring. The people who have left literary accounts of it often describe being exalted and transformed by it, and some seem to spend much of their lives trying to recapture it, either in reality or in words and memories. What is different about Tantra is that this rare experience becomes something that any loving couple can, with practice, achieve regularly, at will.
I want to emphasize that what we are talking about is not a simile or figure of speech. When it’s happening you don’t feel as if you were feeling every sensation your partner is feeling. You experience instead the very strong, very realistic sensation that you are in fact sharing your partner’s body, that in some sense you are inside it, that the two of you have merged into one being, and that you are able to sense everything that happens from both sides. You share every kiss, every touch, every stroke, and every orgasm, and experience them from both sides. Although not literally true, it feels intensely real – and utterly amazing!
The brain science behind this phenomenon is fascinating, and we’ll explore it in a bit, but for now, what you need to keep in mind are the elements of the Tantric ritual that contribute to making it happen:
- The strong emotional bond between the two of you. Love, caring, and trust are vital.
- Deep relaxation. The safe environment, with no worries about time or interruptions; the bathing, meditation, and massages; and the powerful orgasms of the first phase – all of these things contribute to it.
- The intimate knowledge of each other’s bodies and sensory responses that you gain from the lingam and yoni massages.
- Your intent focus on awareness of your partner at every level of perception during the couple meditation, the massages, and yab-yum.
- The euphoria of the Tantric high, generated during the massages and enhanced during yab-yum and maithuna.
As you become better at sustaining all of these elements, you will gradually feel that you are experiencing more and more of what your partner is experiencing. It takes time, and it will probably sneak up on you bit by bit.
The first time it happened to me, towards the end of maithuna, it took me completely by surprise. I had just had a series of orgasms that would normally have left me feeling wiped out and unable to come again, but in this case I could feel my partner’s intensity growing and – I really don’t know any other way to describe it – I experienced his orgasm along with him as he finished. It felt utterly real, and at least as powerful as any of the orgasms I had just had, but completely different from the way my orgasms feel to me!
I’ve heard very similar stories from almost all of the experienced Tantrics I have interviewed. There’s an incredible sense of, “Oh, now I get it! Now I know what that feels like for you!”
Over time, this linkage, this sense of merging bodies and senses, starts happening earlier and earlier in the Tantric ritual. For many Tantrics it begins during the massages, wanes during the break, and comes back full force during yab-yum. In fact, as you become more experienced and more attuned to each other's bodies, it can be a definite hazard during the massages. The massage-givers tend to focus so intently on what is going on with their partners that they experience the full intensity of their partners’ orgasms.
As I mentioned in a much earlier post, this is one reason the woman should give the first massage. If the man gives the first massage, he has a strong tendency to ejaculate when his partner reaches orgasm. Even with the massages in the “right” order, it can be a problem for the woman to continue giving the first massage without missing a beat while she is having a strong sympathetic orgasm of her own.
Some people dismiss the sense of union and sharing sensations as a mere illusion, but the fact that it can cause orgasms without any physical stimulation is an indication of the power and the reality of the subjective experience. Over the next few posts, I’ll try to unravel some of the mystery behind it, in a tale of empathetic responses, mirror neurons, body maps, rubber hands, and body swapping experiments!