What does one of the oldest natural systems of holistic medicine, Ayurveda, have to say about sex?
I’m glad you asked, because I looked it up.
While many religions and cultures believe sex should be limited to reproductive purposes, Ayurveda disagrees. And quite honestly, after reading this, I decided it was safe to continue researching.
You see, while I’ve been thoroughly enjoying learning Ayurveda, I’ve also encountered quite a bit of resistance to many of the teachings—specifically pertaining to food. Yes, much to my dismay, Ayurveda has revealed that many of my favorite dry, salty snacks are not ideal for the vata in my constitution—so it’s understandable I wasn’t quite ready to digest more bad Ayurvedic news.
So let’s start with the good news. According to Ayurveda, sexuality is one of our deepest, most primal and powerful needs. Described to be our creative life force, our sacred expression, and one of our most valuable physiological assets, sex is not to be dismissed. In fact, Ayurvedic master David Frawley states that “if the desire for sex is not fulfilled, it can result in the physical or mental sickness, blocking one’s healthy and happy functioning in life.” Another source states that when sexual instincts are forcefully suppressed, it can lead to mental perversions and countless other physical diseases.
Yes, Ayurveda affirms that sex—or lovemaking, in Ayurvedic terms—is a vital piece to our existence with the power to nourish us deeply when approached in the right way.
So what’s “the right way”? There seem to be a few noteworthy rules pertaining to sex, so I decided to put together a list. Actually, let’s not call them rules, but instead helpful guidelines to consider when getting intimate, Ayurvedic-style.
As un-sexy as a structured approach to sex sounds, there is actually much good news within these ancient teachings, so bear with me.
Guideline 1: Choose your partner wisely.
Why? When we connect in sex, it’s said that we unite not only physically, but energetically, absorbing the energetic qualities of our partners. Meaning, if we choose a partner who is filled with repressed trauma, anger, and pain, then I’m sorry to say we are destined to take on some of this baggage. Alternatively, if we connect with a partner who is filled with love, kindness, and compassion, the same holds true.
While Ayurveda wasn’t my first to introduction to this concept, it was a great reminder to be selective when feeling frisky. Sex has the power to connect two individuals at a deep level—whether we want it or not—so engaging in casual, meaningless sex has the power to create chaos in both our inner and outer worlds.
In fact, according to Frawley, sex is both “the most powerful energy that connects us to the world and the main source of misconduct in the world.” Frawley states that without controlling our sexual urges, we are guaranteed to run into sorrow and conflict. He also states that all mental imbalances involve a distortion/misuse of sexual energy—as this energy is said to be the root energy of our senses and mind.
On the bright side, according to Ayurvedic guru Dr. Vasant Lad, “When two people truly love each other, and within that loving relationship, make love with awareness, they can transform ojas (vital energy) into profound bliss.”
Profound bliss, eh? Sign me up for that.
Guideline 2: Pay attention to the seasons.
Like much else in these teachings, sex is highly tied to nature, recommended in varying amounts depending on the time of the year.
In the hot summer months, it’s recommended to get down once every week or two, as the heat from the summer sun reduces both our reproductive fluid and energy. In the spring and fall, when heat and activity are more moderate, it’s suggested a more generous once every three to four days. And finally, in that cold, cuddle-up season of winter, it’s permitted the most. How much, you ask? Daily!
Yes, daily, if “making use of natural aphrodisiacs and herbs such as Ashwagandha and Vajikaranas to obtain strength,” as sex is said to be ojas (vital essence/energy reserve) depleting. Which brings me to rule number three.
Guideline 3: Nourish and replenish post-sex.
Take the time to replenish ojas depleted from orgasm. Yes, you read that right; in Ayurveda, orgasm is said to be depleting.
While many studies show that orgasm has the power to reduce stress, boost immunity, stimulate that feel-good oxytocin, and deepen our connection to our partner, Ayurveda believes that much ojas gets discharged during orgasm. Described as fuel to our tissues and organs, ojas is responsible for vitality, strength, health, long life, immunity, and mental/emotional wellness.
To compensate for this oh-so-worth-it loss of ojas, Ayurveda recommends the consumption of ghee, coconut juice, warm milk of choice with honey, and/or snacks with sugar, such as fresh fruits and dates to replenish vital fluids lost via orgasm.
Ayurvedic herbs recommended to help support a healthy sex life include ashwaghanda (natural aphrodisiac said to increase stamina), amla, or Indian gooseberry (potent aphrodisiac herb said to increase sperm quality and quantity).
It is also recommended to practice abhyanga (massage) with yourself—or, preferably, with your partner, for further bonding and connection, using cooling coconut oil to regenerate lost ojas.
Warm honey milk, sugary snacks, and massage, eh? Now this sounds like a guideline I can live with.
Guideline 4: Pay attention to the time.
While this guideline seems the most unrealistic of all, as it conflicts with both my bedtime and the Ayurvedic suggestion of sleeping by 10 p.m., it’s said that the best time to get intimate is between 10 and 11 p.m. Why? This is the time frame where the pitta dosha is at its peak.
What does this mean? Pitta is that fiery dosha responsible for qualities such as passion, stamina, and intensity, so when getting down during the pitta time of day, sexual energy is at its peak.
It’s also recommended to make love on the night of the full moon, as the lunar energy is nourishing, and to abstain on the night of the new moon, opting for meditation instead.
Guideline 5: Abstain from sex immediately after eating.
Why? The body needs energy for both sex and digestion.
In order to efficiently utilize energy and allow for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, it’s key to allow time for digestion to be far along enough in the process for the body to have freed energy for sex—which is typically two hours after a meal. Following this rule will prevent uncomfortable symptoms such as regurgitation of food, cramps, and fatigue.
On the topic of sex and food, it’s also recommended to abstain from sex when hungry or thirsty. Instead, it’s recommended to drink or eat before engaging in sexual activity, allowing for proper time to digest. Adverse symptoms of this guideline not being followed include dizziness, headache, bloating, tiredness, and possible exhaustion during or after sex.
Guideline 6: Know your dosha.
The experience of sex is unique to each dosha, so understanding both your dosha and the dosha of your partner can be helpful when getting intimate.
Those with high vata in their constitution are described to be creative, sensual, and free-loving with an ever-changing libido. Physically, sex can be unbalancing for them, when outside of a loving relationship. While vatas may take more time to commit to a relationship, once they do, they are said to be sensual and faithful lovers.
In order to keep vatas interested in the bedroom, it’s said to be helpful to experiment with new experiences and change. Having spontaneous sex in new places can be exciting for vatas.
Those with high pitta in their constitution are described to be fiery, passionate, and powerful, with a high libido. Because of their high sex drives and naturally hot nature, they have the highest tendency to burn out, due to excess heat burning up their reproductive tissues. For this reason, it’s especially important for pittas to balance the act of sex with cooling, calming actions such as meditation or massage with coconut oil afterward.
Those with high kapha in their constitution are said to be loving, nurturing, and romantic with a lower libido. Naturally sensual, kaphas are considered to be good prospects for marriage and sex. They can also come across as needy, as they tend to get attached easily—which may just scare off those vatas. (Hmmm, is anyone else thinking Ayurvedic dating app?)
For kapha, it may take time to pique their interest in sex, as it’s in their nature to reserve energy. But once stimulated, kaphas are said to be amazing lovers. Sex is also described as a balancing act for kapha, as it satisfies their natural need to be nurtured and loved.
Guideline 7: Practice moderation.
Like anything else in these teachings, it’s about small and consistent lifestyle modifications. While it may initially seem like there are way too many rules, I would suggest starting with one simple change that resonates with you and observing the impact it has over time.
And as my teacher once said, when you are over-indulging or indulging in something that you know isn’t the best for you, it’s key to do it lovingly, without guilt, remembering life is meant to be enjoyed.
So while it’s important to make healthy choices in our life, it’s also equally important to practice balance—and I’d say part of that balance includes indulging from time to time.