Honouring the body ecstatic
Last month, armed with only Margot Anand’s ‘The Art of Sexual Ecstasy’ and an increasingly less reluctant husband, we explored Part One of ‘Honouring the Body Ecstatic’. It was a mixed bag of very labour-intensive exercises, some which were, frankly, hilarious. This month we finish off the chapter with some interesting tandem exercises designed to prepare us for the more intense tantric practices to come.
The focus is again on freeing the body of accumulated emotional and physical tension, and opening it once more to deeper levels of self-love and self-trust. The exercises that follow require that you work with your partner, so try to retain a sense of openness and playfulness when carrying them out.
The square stretch
Note: With all of the following exercises, first set up your sacred space and then begin and end with the Heart Salutation (HS), as discussed here.
This exercise opens your pelvis, making it more supple in preparation for the advanced practices in later chapters. Feel free to play some gentle rhythmic music to accompany this exercise. Allow about 20 minutes for this one.
Sit on the floor, facing your partner. Begin with a HS and then straighten your back and widen your legs to a 45-degree angle, as if you were stretching your inner thigh muscles. (You can put a pillow under your knees if your legs can’t straighten in this position). Place the soles of your feet against your partner’s and lean forward from the waist, keeping your back straight. Firmly grasp each other by the wrists and, looking into each other’s eyes, take some nice deep breaths. Begin to sway gently backwards and forwards, keeping your arms outstretched at all times, inhaling through the mouth as you go forward and exhaling through the mouth as you go back. Feel free to vocalise on the out-breath, using grunts, sighs or other sounds to express whatever you are feeling. Sound is a powerful way of moving energy through the body and releasing it. See how far you can take the movement back and forth, but please don’t overstretch – we don’t want any tantric injuries! Variations include stretching one arm forward and the other back as your partner does the opposite and moving in circles from the waist, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Keep moving fluidly, don’t stop and start. The idea is to keep a flow going and to observe your relationship with your partner – when do you lead, when do you follow, when do you surrender, when do you resist? It may lead to insights into the dynamic of your actual relationship.
End with a HS.
Really? I’m honouring the body ecstatic with stretching? Where’s the eroticism? Where are the mind-blowing orgasms? It took me right back to the school gym and I fully expected to be sent on a cross-country run at any moment. Who knew that Tantra is being taught in primary schools?
I would never knock back any opportunity to look at my wife naked, but after the erotic build up of the previous exercises, this was rather disappointing.
Squatting strengthens pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, massages the intestines, relaxes the anus, loosens the hip, knee and ankle joints and stretches out the spine.
Standing opposite your partner and maintaining eye contact throughout, slowly sink into a squat, breathing deeply through the mouth. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, begin a gentle rocking motion forwards and backwards. Let your knees rest under your armpits as this keeps your shoulders, neck and chest relaxed. Don’t balance on your toes or the balls of your feet but try to keep your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t put your feet flat, put a small pad under your heels. Again, make sounds to vocalise your feelings as this will deepen your relaxation. While squatting imagine that you are making love on top of your partner. Keeping your head down and your knees bent, slowly raise your buttocks then lower them. Keep it slow at first and then make it quick. Make any sounds that go with this movement.
Then stand up, grasp your partner by the hands or wrists and repeat the exercise in a tandem squat. Pull each other so that you both rock backwards and forwards. Be sensitive and gentle with one another to achieve the correct balance.
Allow 15 minutes and a lot of room (in case you roll backwards!)
The pelvic curl
According to Margot Anand, “the pelvis is the place where you generate, store and distribute your sexual energy”. The purpose of this exercise is to gradually open up the pelvis using rhythmic rocking, expressive sounds and breathing to intensify the energy in the area. It teaches you how to stimulate the orgasmic reflex and let go of muscular tensions that inhibit orgasmic release.
We will be exploring two kinds of pelvic curl. The downward pelvic curl is a gentle, feminine approach to charge the pelvis with energy. The upward pelvic curl is more dynamic and is similar to what the pelvis automatically does during orgasm.
Maintain eye contact throughout – this is very important in this exercise. Also let out sounds using sighing or shouting. When the pelvis opens, long repressed emotions often come to the surface. Let it all out without embarrassment. It’s very healing to allow these emotions to be expressed and it will enable you to connect with a deeper well of sexual energy, free of repression and inhibitions.
Allow about 30 minutes to complete these exercises. Dynamic music, such as African drumming, is recommended.
The downward pelvic curl
Anand suggests marching around the room for 10 minutes shouting ‘Ha!’ repeatedly and stomping in time to the music as a good warm-up. Stand facing each other and close your eyes. Breathe deeply through your mouth, all the way down through your tummy into your sex centre. After a few moments, open your eyes and look at your partner.
Start rocking your pelvis forwards and backwards keeping your chest and spine relaxed but straight. Only your pelvis should be rocking. As you inhale, thrust forward without tensing. As you exhale, let your pelvis fall back into its natural position, relaxing your inner thighs, buttocks and pelvic muscles. Rock with vigorous movements for at least five minutes. Try saying ‘Ha!’ in a sensual manner each time your pelvis falls back. Gradually quicken the pace, stepping your breathing up to a pant, with faster and stronger movements and louder sounds (as if you are approaching orgasm). Keep this up for around three minutes then slow down, letting your breathing relax and the ‘Ha’ sound move down into your sexual centre as you exhale, (imagine that you are pushing it out through your genitals). Do this for about three minutes. Now you start the cycle again, building to a fast pace and a climax of excitement, and then slowing down but continuing to rock. Include the rest of your body in your rocking. Remember to maintain eye contact, continuing with the ‘Ha’ sound and the abdominal breathing. Do this for around five minutes.
Continue the whole cycle for around 15 minutes then slow down and stop. Close your eyes and notice whether you feel any tingling sensations or warmth in your pelvic or genital area. If so, well done! You are one step closer to truly fantastic sex!
The upward pelvic curl
This is essentially the same practice but this time, invert the movement so that the pelvis arches back and up slightly as you inhale and drops down and forward as you exhale. Arch your back slightly as you inhale and rotate your pelvis backwards. As you exhale bear down and push out with the “Ha!” sound to release tension and open the area. Many people find this the more masculine of the two curls and you can play with this energy by tightening your anus and buttocks as you push your pelvis forward on the exhale. Again, allow the movement to build up to an intense pitch and then slow it down again. Do this for 15 minutes and then slow down and stop. Close your eyes and again, be aware of any new sensations in your body.
NB: In the beginning it may be too much to concentrate on the exercise and keep looking at each other. If this is the case, keep your eyes closed until you have mastered the exercise and are enjoying it, then open your eyes. You can alternate between having your eyes open and closed and see what difference that makes to your feelings and emotions. It can take regular sessions of this exercise to really loosen you up and to get to the point where you can really experience the delicious pelvic energy it raises, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work for you first time. If you feel nothing during the exercises, try sucking your thumb or making sucking motions and noises with your mouth. These release energy in the throat, which in turn relaxes the pelvis. You may find that cupping your genitals gently with one hand and placing the other on the base of your spine, greatly enhances pelvic sensitivity during these exercises.
Well, when I read the instructions I just thought ‘Oh great! More bloody exercises, this time Pilates!’ The squats really didn’t do it for me (or my sciatica), plus can I just say, naked squatting with partner – not pretty. But when I got into the pelvic curls (and I don’t mean pubic hair), I found it to be quite releasing. It was quite confronting to look at the Hubby and I felt more connected with the exercise when I closed my eyes. I also felt freer to make some noise. I felt energised all over when I had finished but I’m not sure I could tell how far down that feeling reached! Besides, my pelvic floor retired after the birth of my daughter.
I know the book says it’s preparation for great sex but to me it just sounded lame. I can’t honestly see what squatting and stretching opposite each other has to do with it. Of all the exercises, the pelvic curls were the most interesting, but I think I’d dismissed everything as being pointless by the time we got to them.
The opening lotus
After the intended energising and expanding effects of the pelvic curls, the opening lotus exercise is designed to draw the energy inwards. This position is used in tantra, yoga, zen and many other spiritual traditions because it fosters self-contemplation, calmness and tranquillity. In later chapters it is used in tantric sex, so learning to relax deeply in it is very helpful.
You will need a firm, comfortable supportive cushion or pillow to sit on. Allow 20 minutes for this practice.
Sit cross-legged on your cushion with your heels tucked in towards your groin (the lotus position), your eyes closed and your belly relaxed. Place your hands on your knees and breathe slowly and evenly through your nose. Let your face and jaw relax. Sit for 20 minutes observing your breath. Don’t get caught up in your thoughts, simply notice what arises and let it pass without focusing on it. End with a HS.
I like the ease and peacefulness of this position after all the energetic thrusting of the previous ones. It was restful to simply focus on breathing and drop into a quieter state.
I’m honestly not obsessed with sex but where the hell is it?
Next month: We get a better understanding of the chakras, generate some sexual energy and learn to ‘open the inner flute’. Here’s hoping this is an instrument I can actually play!
Kat Skarbek is a writer and Head Honcho of The Divine Feminine specialising in unique events for women.
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