An editor of mine asked recently for articles on good sex positions. It was one of those requests I ignored and left for other writers, thinking, "That's not my expertise." But it kept stirring around in my thoughts, like a swizzle stick in a cup of steamy hot coffee.
I have had two passionate love affairs for the last 20 years: One with my hunk of a husband, and the other with my hot, sweaty and very twisty yoga practice. You would think that the combination of the two would lead to some pretty interesting and esoteric knowledge about the best positions for sexual pleasure—even if most bodies couldn't contort themselves that way.
Add to that my background as a doctor of Oriental Medicine, with an understanding of how energy currents in the body work and which pressure points get things moving, and I should have all the ingredients someone would need for the best sexcipe. So, I kept pondering it. This led to a fun walk, tumble and roll down memory lane into some thrilling (and also some hilariously awkward) moments in my sexual archive. As I pondered it, I realized that for me personally the best sex never had anything to do with where we put our limbs or placed the chess pieces of our bodies on the board.
The most tender and surprisingly succulent sexual moments always came as a punctuation of deep emotional intimacy. Emotions always came first. I guess you could say I discovered that "talk" is a four-letter word for the best kind of intercourse. Surprisingly, this meant that sometimes the hottest physical encounters my husband and I have shared have come when one or both of us are in an emotional crisis or peak experience, and sharing very vulnerably with each other the deeper feelings brought up by that.
There is certainly some scientific evidence to back the anecdotal experiences I've observed in my own life laboratory. In Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine's article "Love Chemicals" she refers to oxytocin as the "cuddle hormone" and explains how it is released during touching. And oxytocin is also released by the human heart when we are experiencing states of love.
Research from HeartMath, published in the American Journal of Cardiology in 1991, also connects the heart with emotional states and shows us that these same feelings of genuine love and care (as well as passion, joy, appreciation, even compassion, and other feelings associated with emotional intimacy and bonding) produce a uniquely ordered pattern in the heart's rhythm that synchronizes all of the rest of the body's functions.
System wide synchronization sounds like a good position for sex to me! This state of physiological coherence generated by love through its impact on the heart's rhythm also reduces stress hormones and amplifies the anti-aging hormone DHEA, a precursor to the sex hormones, which source arousal.
It turns out the heart has a lot more to do with love than just a cute image on Valentine cards or a nice shape for chocolate boxes. And likewise it turns out that sexual arousal and fulfillment have a lot more to do with love and the heart than how athletic or flexible we are, or where our bodies are placed in the process.
So, how do we make this work for us? Listen. Listen. Listen. To yourself and your partner. Here are seven tips on how to listen in order to position sex for love.
- Don't make physical intimacy the goal—make really hearing your partner and what they need in the moment your aim. If physical intimacy comes as a result of that it will be awesome. But maybe they need to be held, or cooked a healing meal, or receive a foot rub with no strings attached.
- Likewise, make it a priority to listen to yourself and what you really need in the moment. Nothing kills passion like denying your own needs to care-take someone else while resentment builds underneath. Be honest with yourself about your feelings, and then you will be able to communicate your needs to your partner in a way that they are more likely to be fulfilled.
- Once you have listened to and taken care of your own needs, be there for what you have to give to your partner, rather than for what you can get from them. It turns out that turning that love on in yourself is the best turn on for you anyway.
- Pay attention. The cost of Superbowl commercials tells us the most valuable thing any of us can give anyone is our attention. The way to make someone else feel valued? Give them your full attention. Be fully present with yourself and your partner, and your experience with them. When you are present, you let go of what you preconceive should happen and are open to receive whatever happens. When you are present for the situation, then however the situation goes, it will be a present for you.
- The physiology of sexuality is strongly intertwined with our emotional biochemistry. Sometimes physical intimacy can trigger strong feelings or emotional memories for one or both partners that are not directly related to the current situation. This is a time to be extra aware not to take your partner's emotions personally, and instead to let them know that you are holding a safe and unconditional place for them to process their feelings, whatever they are. The HeartMastery program has an awesome tool for mirroring communication that makes it much easier to recognize that what is happening is not about you, so that you can show up for your partner as loving support.
- When things don't seem to be working as they should, on your side or your partner's, get curious instead of judgmental. Ask supportive questions that allow fumbles to become fun opportunities to get to know yourselves and each other better.
- Don't take it all so seriously. Be playful. The State of the Union or the global economy doesn't depend on how your date night goes. Listen for where humor can replace other reactive emotions like judgment, fear, or jealousy. Be ready to laugh together, and remember that the real reason to be together is to enjoy the moment and each other.
You don't need to practice years of yoga or have a 20-something body to get into the best sex position, because the best position for sex is to position sex as an expression of your love and care. Love is the best aphrodisiac after all, and it won't cost you a penny because it's made right in your very own heart.
More advice on sex positions on YourTango: