The origins of tantra aren’t easy to trace. It’s been around for thousands of years and it appears quite a bit in Tibetan Buddhist lineages. (Of course, Sting gave it new life decades ago when he talked about how he and his wife Trudie practiced it for hours. And hours.)
With tantric sex ― the yab yum position included ― a spiritual connection, synchronized breathing, deep eye contact and mindfulness are all important, said Devika Singh, a tantric sex and relationship coach.
“Yab yum is often described as a ‘full embrace’ in certain tantric translations when we are looking at Tibetan Buddhist deities depicted in this position,” Singh told HuffPost. “It’s cosmic because it’s intense ― just looking at this position in visualization yoga and artwork produces this energy.”
Here’s what it looks like:
Here’s a little back view:
If the above position looks enticing, but a little arduous for two mere mortals to attempt, try doing it sideways, said Diana Daffner, the co-author of Tantric Sex for Busy Couples.
“With a little maneuvering, the man penetrates the woman, easing in with a little soft entry,” she said. “Then, for the 10 minutes, the couple can focus on synchronizing their energy together with breath and eye contact.”
Done all together, “This awakens an orgasmic flow that is physically pleasurable, emotionally bonding and spiritually rewarding,” Daffner said.
To get the most of yab yum, put your focus on eye contact and synchronized breathing with your partner, maybe even before you two get physical, Singh said. (After all, the closeness that yab yum brings can be enjoyed without having sex.)
To practice, stare into each other’s eyes for five minutes a few times a week while staying silent. Check in to see how you feel, then try to build it up to 20 or 30 minutes, Singh said. (If you make it that long, you deserve a medal.)
To practice breath work, Singh said to focus on taking deep inhales and exhales during self-pleasure, then incorporate it into coupled sex. (She has a helpful video on yogic breathing for beginners here.)
And there’s no reason why queer couples can’t enjoy some of this tantric goodness, too, even if the position is traditionally depicted with male and female deities.
“Do the eye-gazing and yogic breath work prior to engaging in yab yum,” Singh said. “Any couple who wants to try it can experiment and see what works best for them when choosing who sits on top and who is sitting in lotus position on the bottom.”
So there you have it. Now go make like Sting and get your yab yum on, lovebirds.