We’ve probably all heard of mindfulness and how it can help us live more meaningful, peaceful lives, but what about when it comes to sex?
Embodied sex is the concept of being in the moment, in our bodies during sex and erotic experiences (btw, you get to decide what “sex” means to you!). The key to embodied sex is losing all agendas, and instead setting an intention of staying in the present moment, in the sensations felt in our bodies.
When we have goals such as achieving orgasm, performing in a certain way or trying to look cute, we lose the sensation and the experience of the moment. It’s easy to get lost in the chatter of our minds and the social sexual scripts we absorb from the outside world.
When we tune in to our bodies, sex can be a freeing, joyful, spiritual experience.
So how do we practice? There are five key embodiment tools I would like to introduce you to:
1. The Breath
The breath is one of the most powerful ways to regulate our nervous system, which is deeply connected to our arousal.
Firstly, the breath can downregulate our nervous systems, meaning bringing us into a more relaxed parasympathetic state (rest + digest).
A downregulating breath has a longer exhale than inhale, and may become slower and slower.
An upregulating breath will excite our nervous systems. This can be stressful (think: fight or flight), but can also be an interesting way to change our body’s state during sex. You know when you get really turned on and aroused? Often your breathing becomes shorter and quicker. If we know we are safe, the experience can be fun!
An upregulating breath can have two inhales and one exhale, or a quick in and out. Beware: practicing this breath can make you dizzy! Try with a partner or friend around.
Thirdly, a plateau breath can maintain your nervous system at the level it is already at. Try to equally inhale and exhale, smoothly switching between in and out. This is called a circle breath.
Move! Our bodies love to move! If you’ve been tasting the House of Sculpt menu you already know this. There is no need to sit like you’re at your desk or lie like a statue during sex and masturbation. Moving allows erotic energy to circulate our bodies, can feel incredibly sexy and expand what experiences are possible. If you like to sit, try standing. If you like to lie, start with some gentle rocking.
Moving our hips is a great way to awaken the pelvis, promote blood flow and help the body’s physiological responses to being turned on unfold. Beginning with pelvic tilts (yes, the ones you practice in pilates), try syncing your breath to the rocking movement. Then try letting your hips roll around in circles, and move from side to side.
Flexibility and mobility in the pelvis is important for engorgement, orgasm and ejaculation. If you find moving your pelvis painful or difficult, contact a pelvic physio who can help you understand what may be going on.
Move in any way you want to, alone or with others. Shake, twist, crawl, roll around, dance! See what movement brings you pleasure - there is no right or wrong here.
During embodied sex, we focus on the sensations of touch. Experiment with touch alone or with partner(s). Choose a variety of touches and become curious - what does each touch feel like? Describe with language beyond “good” or “bad”. Try and get specific. Developing our somatic language helps increase your awareness.
Play with different touches: light, hard, scratching, feathery, tickling, kneading. Now try a different breath. Does that change the sensation of the touch? You may not even know what touches you enjoy until you try new ones.
If you are exploring touch with a partner, try Betty Martin’s famous 3 minute game. One person asks for a touch they would like to receive for 3 minutes. Then that person asks how their partner wants to touch them for 3 minutes and receives. Swap and repeat - this game is 12 minutes in total but allows different combinations of giving and receiving. You may ask for a touch and your partner may say no- that’s okay, the game only works with safety and consent.
Explore your whole body with touch. Anywhere can become an erogenous zone with presence and curiosity.
Many of us have learned to masturbate or have sex remaining as quiet as possible, for fear of being heard or shame. As adults, we can forget we are allowed to make noise. Not only is it sexy, but making noise creates sound vibrations which travel throughout our body.
There is a strong connection between the pelvis and the throat, so releasing the jaw and allowing whatever noise wants to come out can help relax your pelvis and increase pleasure. Noise is also an excellent way to communicate with others. Providing verbal instructions, sharing desires and boundaries or moaning delivers feedback to lovers about what you like and what you don’t like.
5. Placement of awareness
You know those moments in life when you lose track of time and are completely present in your body? Presence expands sensation, and has the capacity to increase pleasure just by being mindful.
Think of activities which bring you into your body. Include them more in your everyday life, whether it’s yoga, meditation, a swim in the ocean, or dancing to music. Taste your morning coffee and savor it. Feel your booty burn in pilates. Notice the sensations and ask ‘can I stay with this’? If you don’t know where to start I’ll be releasing some free sexy guided meditations soon. Placing your awareness on one or many parts of your body, a partner, or yourself in the mirror are all incredible ways to be mindful.
Pilates is an excellent way to connect all of the embodiment tools. On the mat, your breath is connected to your movement. Your awareness is placed on the body and each muscle you engage, and the sound of your inhale and exhale brings you back to the moment again and again. For this reason, I’m convinced that pilates will help you have better sex.
Just like pilates, embodied sex is a practice. So go easy on yourself, remembering that when you learn anything new, patience and repetition are your friend. The skill will strengthen over time.
Invite pleasure into each day and enjoy it as your birthright.
I’d love to hear how you go on your embodied sex journey. Connect @sexologywithgrace