Six reasons why Yoga & BDSM are closely related

Apr 28, 2018 | 0 comments

Anastasia Steele meets Christian Grey.

I mean, who hasn’t seen, read or heard of Fifty Shades of Grey? This modern erotic romantic novel has become an absolute must-read. The first movie alone has been estimated to have made 570 million in revenue. But did you know that the BDSM premise of this kinky storyline is deeply rooted in Yoga? Oooooooh – Yes! Yoga isn’t just incense-smelling, head-standing, angel-like floating all day long. Yoga means UNION, and though union with the SELF is implied, there’s also the UNION with The Other, or rather at its core, there’s the understanding that there is no other, we are all ONE.  This path of connecting with an intimate partner for the ultimate goal of self-realization and merging as ONE with the Divine is known as Tantra. As such, with its grounds in spirituality, it is often times considered an extension of Yoga or a sister branch of it.

BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance and Submission and Sadism & Masochism. In it, a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving (any or all) variations of these approaches and other related interpersonal dynamics takes place.  Picture whips, canes, choking collars, bondage ropes, clamps and whatever other sexual toys rock your boat. Oh yes, it’s very spicy indeed!

Being raised in a highly Catholic country (Bolivia), you can imagine this scenario was never an option for me. The mere thought of pain and pleasure combined is not a conversation that would be entertained over Sunday brunch during our traditional Churrasquito (Bolivian term for Barbeque). It is, simply put,  “not something a ‘good girl’ does or even talks about”, my parents would say.  

However, understanding that we are more than just a physical body, we dive into the realm of subtle energies. Chakra means “wheel” in Sanskrit. We have 7 of these energetic centers in our body. The first two lower chakras govern the areas of our life related to security, foundation, creativity and emotions. As we rise to the third chakra, we encounter MANIPURA, referred to as the “city of jewels”, also known as the Solar Plexus, located in the abdominal region.

Let’s explore then, how closely related these sexual practices and how rooted to the sacred tradition of Yoga they are:

1. Let the Fire Burn

The Manipura Chakra is situated behind the navel. The corresponding element is Fire, therefore it is also known as the Fire or Sun Centre. The fire element manifests in the body as heat in the Solar Plexus. The practice of Yoga Asana (which is the common idea people have of “Yoga”), has the aim of purifying our minds and bodies through the practice of “tapas”, which can be translated into “austerities” or “the fire that burns”. Like a diamond, which needs to be polished through heat, the yoga practice becomes the vehicle with which we shape our willpower. As well, through the practice of Tantric lovemaking, based in Manipura, we learn to burn the ego and exercise discipline.

2. The Ultimate Surrender

Often misunderstood, BDSM is condemned by many as a practice of unnecessary pain and torture. In fact, those who dare to venture into this (often thought of as dark) practice, quickly discover that one of its main goals is the ultimate and voluntary surrender of control, exercising absolute trust in one’s partner for the sake of “feeling” rather than “thinking”, and ultimate enlightenment itself. In an era where both men and women are pressed to step up into leadership roles, “climb the corporate ladder”, keep up with fitness, social agendas, raise a family, travel, pay mortgages…and the list goes on, it’s not surprising that we’ve hit BURNT OUT MODE. Now, more than ever, we crave to disconnect from this madness – even if just from time to time – and FULLY relax and enjoy life. Well, guess what? Sex is a great and therapeutic tool available to every human being in this planet. Yoga allows us this disconnect from the world in order to reconnect with ourselves. Similarly, as with yoga, the conscious practice of BDSM can bring us closer to the feeling of transcending of the ego and physicality and enter the realm of soul and exploring one’s own boundaries. I would like to emphasize the term “conscious” here because in the path of Tantra, we keep our focus on a higher purpose than the mere and ephemeral bodily satisfaction. Tantra is the search for union with the divine. It is the path to God. While this may start as a sexual practice, it may shine light upon other areas of our lives in which we can exercise less head (all pun intended) and more heart. Therefore, keeping it sacred is key to achieve this ultimate surrender that comes from a deep soul quest.

3. Inhale, Exhale

The breath is the main component of the Yoga practice. We focus on deep, full belly breaths, in order to stabilize the mind. The deeper your breath, the quieter the mind becomes. A Stanford study accurately describes the direct connection between breath and states of consciousness. As with Yoga, we can also bring this awareness to our lovemaking. You can literally put yourself in the mood, provided you learn how to utilize this powerful tool, available (for free), at your disposal 24/7.

4. Self-Awareness

Let me ask you: How well do you think you own your sexuality? 

Most of us, due to societal or parental conditioning (which, is societal conditioning in essence too), have been raised with certain taboos inflicted upon us. Can you relate to any of the following statements:

  • Girls don’t touch themselves.
  • Boys Don’t Cry
  • A girl must always behave ladylike
  • Boys must be gentlemen (never touch a woman, not even with a feather)
  • A girl must never initiate sex
  • “Are you seriously wearing that?”
  • Girls shouldn’t dress like this/that
  • Boys must always be strong
  • Wifes must always follow what their husbands say (or something like written somewhere in the bible)

and the list goes on and on and on….

If you can spot at least 1 of these statements as even partially true for you, then chances are you have some limiting beliefs that are withholding you from a deeper sexual experience past the traditional encounters (I’m talking missionary, doggy style and a couple other more common sexual positions).

In taking your sexual practice to the edge of your comfort zone, you get to practice Self-Awareness. When lovemaking becomes a conscious practice, and not something you do once the kids are asleep, in a matter of 20 mins or less, lights off, on Saturday night, THEN you can dive deeply into understanding your triggers, discovering your deep delights and kinks, and how you roll, in sex. Similarly, in Yoga, we take ourselves to the edge of our comfort zone and with the assistance of breath, we observe all the emotions that arise: the anger, fear, doubt, judgements that become present during our practice. Once again, conscious lovemaking and yoga prove to have more in common than we thought.

5. Absolute Trust

As we mentioned before, the element of trust is of utmost importance when following a tantric path and exploring the flavors and fun of BDSM. Without trust, the full force and energy that rises at the level of Manipura can easily become murky, muddy, of a lower frequency and carry more damage than healing. When we arrive at our Yoga mats, we choose trust over fear as well. We trust that every inhale will be there after every exhale. We trust the process of heart opening through following an apparent external practice, knowing that its ripple effects go way deeper than just the flesh and bones, much more than the aesthetics of a well-performed mermaid pose, dancer’s pose, or handstand. We trust our mat to support us, we trust our body to find its “sthira sukham” – its comfortable seat, as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Trust must be present on both Tantric and Yogic paths.

6. Flow/Play

Creativity is our birthright. We are the single only species who can afford verbal communication through the use of language as well as creative living. Whereas most species strive for survival, we have the ability to paint the Sistine Chapel, compose Ride of the Valkyries, and build La Sagrada Familia. The Flow I’m referring to here is the Flow of Life. When we are creating, we feel alive, we feel ecstatic, connected to one and all. We feel invincible, we ride the waves of pleasure, knowing that we deserve to experience beauty, play, connection, abundance and a plethora of emotions, simply and for the mere fact that we are HUMAN. So, in conscious lovemaking, we can also experience a similar flow. BDSM then, represents a tool, available to us for the purpose of experimentation, play, and creativity. Role play, make-believe scenarios, sexual fantasies explored, it all becomes a stage for us to play on. Yoga, on a parallel line, promotes flow through the stream of movements, deeply rooted in the breath. In this flow, we disconnect from external distractions, and go deep within, dancing between breath and movement: allowing, surrendering, enjoying, observing, reconnecting to our divine essence, sublime, exquisite, ONE with creation itself.

So I suggest you get yourself some kinky toys, set an intention with your partner, and get on with playing. You’d be amazed at what you discover!

Thanks for reading.

Stay kinky, drink more water and twerk on!

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