by Emma Thake
We’ve been talking about sex quite a bit lately at the YinOva Center, with our director Jill Blakeway’s recent release of her second book Sex Again. In her comprehensive look at libido, Jill writes about how to rebuild the connection with our sexuality and desire from within ourselves and our relationship.
Since this week brings the big day for celebrating love and sex, I think it is an opportune time to share some recommendations for some specific libido boosting foods.
In Chinese medicine we always look to the internal organs when something is lacking. Sexual drive is connected to the energy of our kidneys, and the balance of yin and yang energies. Though generally lack of yang is focused on for sexual vitality, it is both the yin and yang that must be in equilibrium for one to have the motivation to pursue sex (yang) plus the ability to receive it (yin). However, this equilibrium is not meant to be rigid. As Jill writes, “ You’re aiming for a dynamic balance, not a fixed point and not a precisely even split. For most people, the sweet spot is where either yin or yang is predominant – but only slightly.”
To help nourish both the yin and yang aspect, here are a few suggestions for aphrodisiac foods and spices, whether for this Valentine’s Day or any day really!
Oysters – As the most highly prized of aphrodisiacs, these succulent yin nourishing creatures (they do come from the sea after all) are also high in vitamin B12 and protein.
Walnuts – Likely due to their kidney yang enhancing ability, an old Chinese folk remedy for impotence was to eat 20 walnuts a day for a month.
Chives – Their warm and pungent flavor is tonifying to the kidneys and specifically to sexual function. They also improve qi circulation, which is a huge benefit to your nether regions.
Apples – The legendary symbols of temptation, apples are cooling and moistening thus contribute to kidney yin.
Chestnuts – This deliciously meaty nut is both nourishing to the energy of the kidneys and helps stimulate the liver out of stagnation (because we all have stuck energy in there).
Lamb – Typically raised with far fewer antibiotics and allowed to graze on grass, this is an excellent choice for red meat lovers, especially for its kidney warming qualities.
Cucumber – This suggestive yin nourishing vegetable boasts the ability to cleanse the blood and purify skin.
Shrimp – Tasty, decorative and easy to prepare, shrimp has a warming and yang enhancing nature (inquire about allergies before offering this crustacean to any new lover).
Eggs – As a blood and yin tonic, eggs are also ascending in nature and have been used in the prevention of miscarriage.
Lentil – This little legume increases the vitality of the kidneys and is stimulating to the adrenal system.
Ginger – Dried ginger is said to direct the properties of foods and herbs to the lower region and sexual organs, making it an excellent spice accompaniment to your amorous meal.
String bean – This sweet flavored yin nourishing vegetable has known uses in the treatment of involuntary seminal emission.
Some delicious and sinful recipes utilizing the above ingredients can be found on Epicurious.com. One in particular caught my eye and may find its way to my table and my love’s lips soon…
Eating chocolate leads to higher levels of sexual satisfaction and an increase in libido. That was the finding of urologists from San Raffaele hospital, in Milan, Italy in a study that was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The researchers questioned 163 women about their chocolate habits, as well as how satisfied they were with their sex lives. Female participants who ate at least one cube of chocolate a day were more likely to report a healthy libido than those who didn’t consume chocolate at all.
Is this surprising? Well, chocolate contains the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA), a stimulant that releases the same mood-altering endorphins that flood our bodies during sex and are responsible for the excitement we feel when we’re attracted to someone, so perhaps not.
In my book Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido I wrote about chocolate and sensuality and included a couple of exercises that use chocolate to stimulate desire. They seem particularly appropriate for Valentine’s Day so I’m including them here to encourage you to grab some Valentine’s Day chocolate and share it with someone you love for double the fun.
Chocolate and kissing stimulate the mind and body in very similar ways— with chocolate actually producing the more intense and longer-lasting response. Both kissing and chocolate induce brain states that are alert yet relaxed—and decrease anxiety. Both rev up your heartbeat—in a good way. Chocolate has some unfair advantages, like the mental stimulants caffeine and theobromine and the serotonin-assisting tryptophan. Chocolate also provides a “natural high” thanks to the release of the dopamine that its sugar and fat content triggers in the brain.
But the chocolate feature I ask my readers to take advantage of is the conveniently sexy way it melts at body temperature. Try taking a bite of chocolate and, with it melting in your mouth, kiss. Enjoy the silky smoothness, as well as the extra sensory stimulation. Or try passing a piece of chocolate back and forth with your partner while you kiss. Can’t think of anything better to do with a Kiss!
This exercise is a favorite of our YinOva massage therapist Nicole Kruck. I sometimes call it “the chocolate bite meditation,” though it can be done just as well with a piece of fresh ripe fruit. It is a classic practice of mindfulness. The point here is to tune into all your senses with the goal of intensifying pleasure—an excellent skill to employ when having sex!
Choose a small piece of chocolate, and sit quietly with it for a few minutes. Take a good look at the chocolate. Describe it to yourself. Light or dark? Smooth or rough? Even or uneven? Now close your eyes. Hold the chocolate, touch it, and notice how it feels—the texture and shape. Bring it to your nose and notice how it smells. You can even listen to the chocolate as you break or bite off a piece.
Bring the chocolate to your lips and slowly take a small bite. Allow the chocolate to linger on your tongue, blossoming in your mouth, before swallowing or taking another bite. Notice not only the taste and the smell but also the feeling in your mouth as the texture shifts. Let your senses speak to you.
Throughout this meditation, check in periodically to notice if you are feeling any sensations in parts of your body not directly involved with the chocolate. Bring awareness specifically to your pelvis. Are you feeling any sensations there? There are chemical components in chocolate that make a good case for it being an aphrodisiac. Even so, for our purposes the more powerful effect of chocolate in this exercise is the way it awakens your senses, which opens you to sensual experience in general
The Taoist sexology texts contain a variety of instructions for using deep and shallow thrusts in alternating patterns, but I think one version is plenty to give you the general idea—and all the benefits. You can find this exercise, called Nine and Nine in Chapter 13 of Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido where it will be explained in more detail.
To begin, the man will insert only the head of his penis into the woman’s vagina—nine times. Then the entire penis once. That completes one set of ten strokes. Next decrease the number of shallow strokes by one, and increase the number of deep strokes by one, and continue doing so for a total of nine sets. The full pattern looks like this:
nine shallow and one deep
eight shallow and two deep
seven shallow and three deep
six shallow and four deep
five shallow and five deep
four shallow and six deep
three shallow and seven deep
two shallow and eight deep
one shallow and nine deep
The pacing is up to the two of you, but in general slower is better. A lot of couples prefer slower entries and quicker departures.
Beginning with more shallow and moving on to deeper thrusts maximizes pleasure, especially for the woman. This alternates a feeling of being tantalized with a feeling of being satisfied, which is a highly pleasing combination for most women—and a good path to orgasm, even for women who haven’t been able to orgasm during intercourse previously. Doing the Nine and Nine can speed up the path to orgasm for women, and/or heighten the orgasm experienced.
While the varying of strokes creates a sense of anticipation that intensifies the experience for most women, for men it tends to spread out the intensity, helping extend intercourse by delaying his orgasm. That’s because the stimulation varies between targeting the head of the penis and the shaft. Stimulation of the entire penis increases desire to ejaclate; stimulation of the head of the penis alone decreases desire to ejaculate.
That said, one time through this whole exercise totals ninety strokes, and no matter how you spread out the area of stimulation, this can be a lot for many men. If you finish a set of nine without having an orgasm, feel free to do the whole thing over again. But if it’s tricky getting all the way through, just do shorter sets, at least to begin with. Do sets of five, or four, say. Whatever works for you.
Yin in Chinese medicine refers to all those aspects of the body that are moistening and cooling. Yang describes the body’s functions that are warming and activating. Yin is what makes you want to receive sexual energy from another person and yang is what makes you want to initiate sex with your partner. People with too little yin often don’t feel sexy or have a poor self-image. People with too little yang are often too tired to want to have sex. So good sex means not just working on your partnership but also working on yourself and your own balance of yin and yang.
- Forge close emotional and energetic bonds without losing sight of yourself;
- Stay true to your own ideas and values, even as you engage with someone else’s;
- Agree without losing yourself, and disagree without feeling alienated;
- Empathize with and support a partner who is having a tough time without getting pulled down by or taking on the situation yourself;
- Become open to nurturing and support from a partner without spilling over into neediness; and
- Share your whole self, and help your lover do the same.
You can find out if you have too little yin or too little yang by taking this quiz and the book helps gives you lots of hints for getting your yin and yang back into balance both individually and as a couple because the key to staying centered and stable in a relationship is being able to find balance in yourself?There is a circus act where one person does all sorts of tricks while supported by a partner. Do you suppose the “flier” learned to do a handstand by doing one atop another person? She most certainly did not. She worked it out on her own before she ever involved the other person.
You can visit the Sex Again website here