THE NAKED TRUTH

Onsen

I recently discovered the joy of floating naked in a pool of steaming hot, mineral-laden water. Nestled among rock formations overlooking the sea in a Japanese onsen  – I could not believe how wonderful it felt. And made me wonder, why we didn’t do it here at home?

You enter the women’s onsen (men & women have segregated sections) and take off your clothes, douse yourself with hot water and clean up with soap, then gently ease yourself into the almost-boiling hot water with a bunch of other women.

I can hear the collective groans of horror among my women friends, exclaiming how they wouldn’t be caught dead naked in a hot pool with strangers. So why are we so embarrassed about being naked?

But here’s the thing: no one in the onsens I went to seemed to care how anyone else looked: it was a personal experience. Young teens with perky breasts floated right alongside grandmas with floppy, droopy breasts.  There were babies floating with their mums. There were women with all manner of pubic hair, some without, some with post-pregnancy stretch-marks, young teens with flawless skin… just women of all shapes, sizes, ages. And it was OK for us all to be naked in that steamy, communal space.

Sadly, I don’t see the Onsen trend catching on here at home anytime soon…

THE KAMASUTRA ON NUDITY

The Kamasutra doesn’t talk about nudity in particular. Because then it doesn’t need to. Being naked with your lovers, bathing with your friends in lakes and public bathing spots were the most natural things in the world and did not require mentioning.

There are passages in the Kamasutra that describe the life of the Nagaraka (man about town who is the hero of these erotic texts) which mention how he and his friends would attend horseback picnics and go swimming in summer.

Guests swam in ponds & frolicked with each other under the trees…

Perhaps showing off their lithe bodies in the water, teasingly inviting their lovers to join them. There is no mention of any embarrassment about taking their clothes off. But then, in that more evolved era, that’s not surprising.

Pity we’ve lost that in our so-called liberal times…

A DASH OF KAMASUTRA WITH YOUR G&T?

 

We’ve marched against discrimination. We’ve fought for equal pay. We’ve battled for the choice to be stay-at-home super mums or corporate-ladder-climbing career women. As we sip our well-earned Cosmopolitans with our fearless female friends, where does an ancient (and some would say archaic text) like the Kamasutra fit into our lives?

Because we all know it’s about hundreds of impractical, impossible sexual positions, right? Wrong.

Kamasutra is not just about sexual positions, that’s just a common misconception. In fact, sexual positions form only a small part of the actual text. Instead, the book is a joyous celebration of the glory & poetry of sex. Pleasure for the sake of pleasure. And nothing else.

You’ll find pages devoted to every form of foreplay from kisses, love bites, love marks and so on. (A handy little book to dip into when things get stale between the sheets, perhaps?) And there are pointers on how a man should conduct himself when initiating sex with a less experienced woman. (Tenderness says the author, will take a man a long way.) And what I personally find rather sweet, pages devoted to how a man should get himself ready for his lover. Like this extract:

“In the pleasure-room, decorated with flowers, and fragrant with perfumes, attended by his friends and servants, the citizen should receive the woman. He should then seat her on his left side and holding her hair, he should gently embrace her with his right arm. The lovers may sit on the terrace of the palace or house and enjoy the moonlight, and carry on an agreeable conversation….”

Now I don’t know about you, but I find that rather romantic. (More so that some bloke’s much-used pick up line in a bar.)

It’s not just about the poetry & the pointers though. Despite being written between 400 BCE and 200 CE, the Kamasutra is an incredibly liberal text. A woman’s sexual pleasure is mentioned as an essential part of the act & there are even notes on how a woman could learn the Kamasutra. Let’s keep this in context, ladies. Today, we expect our men to be able to find our G-spots (without any signposts!) and even your mum reads ’50 Shades of Grey’ at the local library. But in 400 BCE…that sort of focus on a woman’s sexual pleasure was a revolutionary idea.

To sum up, attitudes to sex were far more open during the times of the Kamasutra. In fact, sexual expertise was expected to be part of the repertoire of any intelligent, cosmopolitan adult.

Perhaps if that same attitude carried on in modern-day India, sexual violence against woman would not be as commonplace as it is today.

So sit back, pour yourself a chilled glass of Chablis and pick up a copy of the Kamasutra. You’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised. Cheers…

THE FOOD OF LOVE

According to the Kamasutra, food plays a huge role in sensual pleasure: enticing your sense of smell, delighting your eyes and stimulating your taste buds. And love-making after all, is all about your senses. But I wanted to go a bit further & explore which foods (particularly spices which are known for their aphrodisiac qualities) could actually make you both more interested in heading to the bedroom…

Let’s talk about Chillies, baby!
Move over Viagra. And pass on those chillies please! Chillies contain capsaicin, which is the source of that chilli heat you feel in your mouth. And what does that do, you might ask? Well it triggers endorphins, those all-important feel good chemicals in your brain. Capsaicin also stimulates your nervous system, so you can FEEL your arousal and everything in bed so much more. Go on girls, stock up on those Scotch Bonnets.

Give me Garlic
Not the exclusive preserve of the Beret-wearing French, garlic is essential in many Indian dishes. Garlic has high levels of something called Allicin (which is what gives it that gorgeous fresh garlic aroma). It is known for its ability to stimulate blood flow to those all-important organs. But before go ordering that Chicken Curry with extra garlic tonight, make sure you BOTH eat it. When you both have garlic breath, it’s not quite garlic breath is it?

Go towards that Ginger 
It’s warm, fiery and heats up your sex life. Ginger is good for your libido, brimming as it is with potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and Vitamin B6. The clue is in the fact that it warms up your body in a way the mirrors your reactions during sex. It’s gettin’ hot in here…

The call of the Cloves

Cloves get you warmed up and your breath smelling sweet. It’s been used by ancient Indians for thousands of years to sweeten their breath before approaching their lovers. Almost in the same way as we spritz on our favourite perfume before heading to our boudoirs. As is with most other spices, cloves too increase your body temperature, getting you primed for sexual adventures.

Fabulous Fenugreek
Fenugreek seeds are used in many Indian curries, but remember a little goes a long way with this super-strong spice. So what does it do? Well if your man’s feeling not quite up to the task, this little spice has been known to increase sex drive in men with a low libido.

Cardamom Shardomom
The ancient Indian art of Ayurveda recommends cardamom to add oomph to your libido. Cardamom also balances our body energies, helps with depression and has detoxifying properties. So detoxify me & sex me up, baby!

6 KISSES YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

A sneaky snog after a night out. A quick stolen kiss in the pelting rain. A peck on the lips for an old lover. A kiss is a kiss, right? Not quite, according to the Kama Sutra which has a few inventive types of kisses.

The Kama Sutra advises going for the lips as well as the inside of the mouth, the breasts, the throat and other more intimate areas. Steady on, Vatsyayana! (In case you didn’t know, he’s the author of the Kamasutra.

The kiss that kindles love
You know the drill. He’s fallen asleep on the sofa after watching the footie. You’re starting to feel, you know, interested. Bring on ‘the kiss that kindles love’. It’s when a woman looks at the face of her lover while he is asleep and kisses it to show her desire.

The turned kiss
He turns up your face tilting it upwards, gently holds your head and chin – then kisses you. That’s what the Kamasutra calls ‘a turned kiss’. Also useful if you’ve had a few too many Pinot Noirs and need him to hold your head steady.

The clasping kiss
This is when things start to get steamy. You take both his lips between your own. And you don’t let them go. For a long time. This is called ‘a clasping kiss’.

The kiss showing intention
Let’s say you want to show the object of your affections that you want him. But not directly. The Kamasutra says you should kiss his reflection in a mirror or in water. Or even his shadow on a wall. And he can remain in no doubt of your intention, ladies.

The transferred kiss
Let’s carry on being indirect, because in the Kamasutra, ardent lovers have all the time in the world to play their ‘love games.’ If your lover kisses a photograph or a pet or even a child while you’re standing in front of him – this is ‘the transferred kiss’.

The demonstrative kiss
You’re standing at the bar with a whole bunch of mates. Your man comes up to you, lifts your hand up and gently kisses a finger, then the next and the next – making sure everyone’s watching his little theatrical production. That ladies and gents, is the demonstrative kiss.

YOUR KISS IS LIKE A DRUG

Kissing releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin, often called the love or bonding hormone. Which we’re primed for from infancy, whether it’s from nursing or kissing. Regular lip-locks are essential for a healthy relationship and help those all-important feelings of affection and attachment. You know what they say, when the kissing drops off in a long-term relationship– you’ve got to start worrying.

You know that feeling when you first meet someone and CANNOT stop kissing them. Well blame it on the dopamine. This feel-good brain chemical is at its highest during a kiss, making us feel elated and even obsessed with our partner. It’s almost like an addiction, and dopamine is more abundant in the early stages of a relationship, and declines as the novelty of our partner wears off. Sigh…

So enough of all this talking, get that lip-lock on!