Whether you’re single or in a long-term relationship, most of us may find our sex drive wanes now and then.
If you’ve been feeling a little lacklustre lately, fear not... somatic sex coach Stella Anna Sonnenbaum has just the programme to reawaken your sexual self.
Brace yourself, it's pretty racy.
1. View your body with an artist’s eye
We are socially conditioned as children not to ‘touch down there’. This creates shame around that area of our body when in reality, it’s just another part of our body.
As a result, many women have never looked at themselves and rely on an outside gaze – whether that be lovers or nurses – to rest assured everything looks acceptable down there.
So, this exercise encourages us to view ourselves with fresh eyes, almost with an artist’s curiosity. It’s about overcoming the shame and the strangeness of that area, to integrate and normalise it, but also to help us feel more connected to our bodies.
Sit naked with your legs apart in front of a full-length mirror. Place a magnifying make-up mirror comfortably between your legs and look, without judgement, at the shapes, the colours and the structure. Don’t be critical, just observe your body.
The structures to find are the clitoral head, the outer labia and the inner labia, the urethra opening, the vagina and the anus. Women’s genitals come in such a huge variety of sizes and colours; they are symmetrical and asymmetrical. Taking the time to be curious and find out what you look like is a lovely way to reconnect. It may feel strange at first, but you'll soon get used to it.
2. Engage your pelvic floor
This is a great way of experiencing pleasure and connecting to our sexual organs that we can do wherever we are – even while working at our computer or standing in a queue.
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Focussing on the muscles in the vagina, take a deep breath being aware, as your breath goes right down into your belly, that you're engaging the pelvic floor. Then gently contract, in a pleasurable way.
So, even fully clothed we can connect our sexual selves. There are loads of nerve endings down there, which means instead of being annoyed that the queues are long, we can access our pleasure potential instead!
3. Ignite desire in your brain
The brain is the largest sexual organ. Therefore, in order to reignite our desire and our sexuality, we need to stimulate it.
This is where erotica comes in, whether audio, literature, photography or pornography such as female-focussed platforms like Frolic Me. You’re not limited to mainstream porn, either. Some women prefer curated amateur porn because it’s more natural than mainstream porn.
On sites such as Make Love not Porn there are clips you can browse without being too-long exposed to something you don’t like, which makes finding something you’d really like to watch a pleasure – a bit like browsing Netflix movie trailers.
When watching, pay attention to core erotic themes. What are the two to three main things that turn you on? This might even be something surprising or taboo to you like violence or extreme submission. We can think, 'Is there something wrong with me?'
But remember that what turns us on is a deeper part of us than our day-to-day person. The rational mind may struggle to bring those parts together, but don’t suppress those desires as that limits our life energy and ability to be wholly ourselves. There's no need to feel ashamed of your 'darker' fantasies – and they may be more common than you realise.
4. Prioritise self-pleasure
For women exploring masturbation, I would recommend a bigger sex-toy to start with – something like a plug-in vibrating massage wand. They have several power settings, and you can use them all over the body.
Alternatively, use a battery-operated waterproof one. Run a bath, light a candle and then start exploring your body with this powerful toy.
Begin far away from the genitals, maybe running it over unexpected areas such as the clavicle, the breastbone... then slowly go down and explore pleasure sensations around the pelvis and the pubic bone.
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The other toy I recommend is a small toy for the clitoris, like the Bullet vibrator which is finger-sized (and NB not to be used in the bath). Depending on your clitoris, it may be too intense to put directly on this area, so you can stimulate around and when you get too excited, take it away.
This technique of taking the arousal levels up, then down again, makes for a prolonged, deeper pleasure experience rather than a one-off more shallow orgasm.
What makes for really satisfying orgasms is to use the entire body. I teach something called Orgasmic Yoga, which is a practice of breath, sound and movement, which brings arousal to the whole body helping people to connect to their inner sexuality.
Begin by lying on your back with the knees up, feet on the floor, then you make a thrusting action to the ceiling, inhaling as you tilt the pelvis backwards. Try to then roll the pelvis up on the exhale. You can vary it, with motions to the side and different rhythms and pace. Remember to keep up the deep breathing. This helps us to enhance the feeling, as if you were breathing right into the sensation itself.
5. Let go of the orgasm agenda
‘Vaginal mapping’ is something you can do yourself and just means exploring the sensations in the landscape of the vagina.
Using the pads of your fingers with a light touch, start from the belly button and go down, exploring the pubic bone. Find where the right and the left side of the pubic bone meet – and how this point leads to the clitoris.
Put on some music and just enjoy the sensations. Trace around the pubic bone, the clitoris, the folds which lead us inside and right to the G-spot. Depending on how long your vagina is, you may need a very thin toy in order to explore the deeper areas around the cervix.
it’s not about reaching orgasm – in fact I would suggest you do this in ‘low arousal’ mode, so maybe a two to four out of ten. Whenever there is an urge to take that into high arousal, try to resist that. Vaginal mapping is about really feeling the whole range of feelings, not reaching climax.
6. Communicate your desires
Once you’ve awakened your desires, how do you communicate those fearlessly to your partner – if you have one?
Sometimes it’s tricky when we have sex, because any feedback can feel like criticism. But when we invite feedback, it’s much easier to communicate.
What helps is to take turns, so one person is the receiver and one person is the giver and the receiver is in charge. This is called ‘active receiving’, so the receiver is responsible for explaining their desires in a way that means they get exactly what they want. In other words, the giver’s only role is to touch and ask, ‘Like this?”
I give a criteria or structure to help. So, you can ask about direction, area, pace and pressure. What’s important is that the giver checks in frequently, but all the responsibility is with the receiver.