Whether you’re single, married or in a relationship, below are some practical, yogic tools to transition from ‘having sex’ to ‘making love.’
The key is to view our sexuality holistically—not just as a physical or emotional experience. When we honor our sexuality as the most potent energy we possess (literally the ability to create life), we realize a powerful opportunity for cultivating union—a deep, soulful merging between two people.
Turn your love making into a spiritual practice. Use sex to awaken, express your creativity and expand consciousness. In yoga, this is called bramacharya (containment and mindful use of sexual energy) and is one of the ten foundations (yamas) of living a yogic life.
1. Choose Partners Wisely.
Look and choose partners that have the same intention as you. For example, if you are seeking a relationship, be clear they have the same intention. If you just want a lover, make sure your partner is on the same page. Is this a monogamous relationship or open? Transparency builds mutual trust and understanding and creates the safety necessary for your psyche and soul to feel safe enough to expand. Having honest, direct conversations means you’re setting the foundation of love and respect.
2. Agree on the Ground Rules.
Prior to entering into a sexual relationship, have a conscious dialogue around basics such as sexually transmitted diseases, what type of birth control you’ll use and even what happens if you do get pregnant. It’s crucial to set and agree on ground rules in order to build a foundation where both partners feel understood. If you have trouble discussing touchy subjects with your partner, it’s a good indication that there is not enough care, friendship, emotional connection or psychological development between you to warrant moving into a sexual relationship. In other words, if you can’t be honest about your needs or truth—ask yourself why? Is this really an appropriate sexual partner for you? Bonus: deeper intimacy and physical satisfaction comes when you feel safe, heard and respected!
3. Practice Deep Breathing.
Before you enter the physical love making, get in the habit of slowing down and resonating with your partner by breathing together. Conscious sexuality is not about orgasm. It’s not even about intercourse. When we focus our attention on the breath, we move out of a goal oriented, physical process and into a more ‘feeling state’ connected to the subtle, non-linear, energetic body.
Making love is two people truly seeing, feeling, celebrating and honoring each other. A merging of the two into the one. When you deepen and slow down your breath, you open over 72,000 energetic pathways or nadis. This relaxes your body, increasing blood circulation which can lead to fuller, more pleasurable orgasms (not necessarily the goal). It also calms the mind and softens the ego. You will begin to connect to your partner from a more generous, humble, open and authentic place. If you notice continued deep, conscious breathing is difficult for you—get thyself to a yoga class!
4. Practice Soul Gazing.
Another powerful exercise to build energetic and emotional attunement with your partner is Soul Gazing. This is an open-eye meditation where you simply sit comfortably and relax together. Start by sitting on the floor or bed across from each other in a cross-legged position (or whatever feels comfortable). Sit close together, knees almost touching. Lengthen through your spine, relax your shoulders, face, jaw, tongue and your expectations. Make and gently hold eye contact. (It is helpful to look left eye to left eye so the eyes are not darting back and forth.) Begin to observe each other silently. Take each other in. Watch your breath without trying to control it. Observe what you see in the other person and how it feels to truly be seen. Let any thoughts, judgments, expectations, defenses or tension rise and silently fall away. Relax, breathe, see, be seen and feel.
For many people, it is extremely difficult to maintain eye contact here. Laughter often arises, a feeling of silliness or fidgeting. Simply notice this and allow it to rise and fall away like waves in the ocean. Come back to the breath. Silently sit and gaze into each others’ eyes—with no expectation—for a minimum of 15 minutes.
When you move out of the personality and verbal mode of communicating—you begin to simply be with another and drop into a more authentic space. Your connection deepens out of the “False Self” we tend to project. You begin seeing through the eyes of the heart and perceiving your partner beyond the roles and identity you have attached to them. Expectations and judgements slip away. The Soul or Spirit becomes more tangible.
Attuning and bringing your energies into alignment with deep breathing and soul gazing will immediately enhance the intimacy in your relationship even when you are not having sex.
5. Set An Intention.
Allow your love making to turn into a spiritual practice. This is often referred to as ‘sexual magic’—or using sex as a gateway for spiritual evolution and deep psychological and emotional healing. One way to do begin this practice is to simply set an intention or say a prayer before making love. Ask Spirit to enter the room. Ask that this be a ritual to bring both you and your partner into your Highest Self, connect with your deepest truth, wisdom and capacity for unconditional love.
If you’re in a committed relationship you may choose to focus on something you intend to create together with your partner. For example, if you have children you may dedicate your ritual as an offering to be better parents. If there’s tension in a relationship or you just had a fight—ask that the love you make help you both soften, let go, forgive and reconnect. Perhaps, your intention is simply to explore, release, be wild, playful and have fun!
Sex is alchemy—an opportunity to use the physical body to consciously shapeshift, change our emotional state and elevate our consciousness. Your sexual energy is the most powerful energy you own. Literally, the energy that creates life. It does not get any bigger or more potent than that. Setting an intention before sex is like placing a dam on this raw power—focusing and directing the flow to exactly the area of your life you choose.
6. Start Slowly.
Slowwww dowwwwn. Sex is not a goal-oriented process. Our aim is to move out of the ego/thinking mind and into the transcendent realm of the Soul.
Start with deep breathing, massaging, gentle touching, kissing and maintaining eye contact. The nervous system, physical body and heart need time to transition, relax, feel safe and open. Patience creates safety, ease and contentment.
The ego mind is goal-oriented. When we are trying to get somewhere or get someone else somewhere it breeds tension, anxiety and constriction in the body. When you notice your thinking mind ‘trying’, analyzing, judging or anticipating – return to the breath, relax, recommit to gazing and slow down.
Holding each others’ gaze while making love breeds much more intimacy (and vulnerability) and connects the heart center to the second chakra or sacral center. Deep breathing expands and spreads out the intensity, desire and sensations of the sexual organs, building a bridge between our primal desires (sexual energy) and our heart -the emotional, sweet, tender, vulnerable, authentic space of who we are.
Breath, gaze, sound and intention begin to align our actions with our heart.
7. Draw Energy Up Your Spine.
Once you are making love, practice taking deeper breaths to expand your energy and draw it up the spine. When we move up the line through the chakras, we move into more refined aspects of Self. We are less obsessed with our individual, physical desires and getting our needs met and more attuned to our partner, expanding our awareness and serving others.
Allow yourself to be “inspired.” The word “inspiration” literally means to breathe in—to be filled with breath. Allow Spirit to flow through you and be literally In-Spired or filled with Spirit when you’re in the process of making love. Visualize the flow of energy moving upwards through your belly, chest, back—outwards through your arms and eyes—and back to your partner again. This begins the tantric loop of contained energy that will fuel and “inspire” both of you.
8. Bring More Affection Daily.
Make affection, kindness, tenderness and physical touch a priority on a daily basis. Sweetly caress your lover’s face. Get in the habit of regularly giving compliments. Hold their hand. Surprise your lover with a sweet kiss. Practice random, unsolicited acts of kindness. This stimulates the ‘mirror neurons’—making us feel loved, lovable and keeps us sensually connected. Do this for yourself, too! Self love is the foundation of all love.
This is one big, juicy blog. Please share with me your feedback!
What helps you shift from having sex to making love?
What improves your sex life?
Share with us in the comments below.
Big, sweet, hot love,
Recently named the ‘#2 Online Influencer for Stress Relief’, Ashley Turner, MA, MFTI is an innovator in self development – combining yoga, modern psychology + spirituality.
A yoga instructor, mind-body psychotherapist, author and Ordained Priestess, Ashley is the creator of several best-selling yoga dvds, co-author of Aroma Yoga and co-founder of the popular digital program LIVE YOUR TRUTH. LOVE YOUR LIFE.Ashley will be leading a retreat to Galapagos Islands in July 2013 and works with clients worldwide via SKYPE.