You’ve probably heard of the Kama Sutra—you know, the ancient text reputed to infuse your sex life with spice, sauce, and sensuality.
But likely, what you’ve heard about the Kama Sutra is skewed. “Contrary to popular belief,the Kama Sutra is not merely a sex manual packed with kinky positions for lovemaking,” says sex and relationship educatorBarbara Santini. It also covers topicslike mental well-being, platonic relationships, and nature.
And the parts thatare about sex? Well, they’re farmore accessible to pleasure-seekers of all flexibility levels (including those who are not very flexible) and farless performance-focused than you might believe.
Below, sexuality professionals break down common misconceptions about the Kama Sutra - then, share 5 Kama Sutra inspired sex positions to try with your boo(s) that don’t require acrobatic-level mobility.
THE HISTORY OF THE KAMA SUTRA
The termKama Sutra comes from an ancient Hindu text,The Kamasutra.
“Kama”, or the pursuit of sensual pleasure, is one of four aims that guide Hinduism, along with dharma, artha and moksha. “Sutra”describes a collection of brief aphorisms, or lessons that are usually handed down generationally. So, Kama Sutra = a collection of lessons about sensual pleasure.
Chasing, embracing, and honoring pleasure is a way of navigating the world according to The Kama Sutra, which gives individuals tips and techniques for doing so.
Written in Sanskrit by philosopher Mallanga Vatsyayana sometime between 400 BCE and 200 CE, this text has a reputation for being *the* book for erotic lovemaking. “But this sacred, dense text actually shows how to explore desire in and out of the bedroom,” according to Santini.
This text wasn’t translated into English until 1883 by Richard Burton. Burton, widely known for being a champion of colonialism and Orientalism, is blamed for the narrow understanding of The Kama Sutra because his original translation distilled many of the ideas down.
These days, there’s been an effort from sexuality educators to correct ill-conceived notions of the Kama Sutra, in order to get more individuals to implement its teachings into their lives.
While same-gender couples appear sporadically throughout the text, most of the sexuality-related content is focused on heterosexual pairings. That doesn’t mean that the Kama Sutra’s teachings can’t apply to queer couples, though!
3 LESSONS TO TAKE FROM THE KAMA SUTRA
The Kama Sutra is a meaty text. So, here’s the Sparknotes version. (You’re welcome).
1. PLEASURE IS THE POINT.
When you think of the Kama Sutra, you may think “there’s no way in hell I could make my body do that.”The good news? You don’t have to.
Today in the U.S., the Kama Sutra is marketed as a positional guidebook for the fearless, flexible, and daring, which can make it feel pretty intimidating. The reality is that “performance” isn’t at the heart of the Kama Sutra at all. Pleasure, not orgasm, is the purpose of sex, according to the Kama Sutra. And sex educators agree!
“When orgasm stops being the goal for sex, you open up the opportunity to enjoy the full experience of pleasure,” says sex educator Kate Delgado, Resident Sex Educator with Lioness. “It's so much easier to enjoy what feels good in the moment when you're not focused on what will feel good ‘at the end’."
By stripping away orgasm imperative, Santini adds that fucking in accordance with the Kama Sutra can help reduce instances of performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction. Word!
One way to put this principle into practice is to gamify it. You might, for example, forbid yourselves from coming. Or, see who can go longest without reaching the O-zone.
You could also explore different types of sensory stimulation, like gentle caresses with feathers, using food to tantilize your tongue, or trying out temperature play.
2. PRE-PLAY IS A PREREQUISITE TO PENETRATION.
Yep, the Kama Sutra is team foreplay.
“It teaches you to, and how to, embrace your partner before intercourse,” explains Santini. The goal of these embraces, according to the text, is to increase proximity and intensify pleasure before penetration has commenced.
And hey — penetration might not even be the name of the game for you. So, let the Kama Sutra guide you to focus on all of the other things you do in the bedroom that don’tinvolve putting something into your (or your partner’s) holes.
In practice, that means spending more time enjoying non-penetrative sex acts like oral sex, vibrator play, grinding, manual stimulation, kissing, nipple play, and chest tissue stimulation.
3. IF ORGASM DOES HAPPEN, THE WOMAN SHOULD ORGASM FIRST.
We know that people of any gender can have sex with poeple of any gender! With same-gender pairings do show up every once in a while in the Kama Sutra, heterosexual pairings are the main focus.
And even though the text was written more than two thousand years ago, the heterocentric knowledge nuggets are still gold. Such is the case with the sacred texts' views on orgasm.
Ready? “The Kama Sutra recommends that a woman should orgasm several times and should climax first,” says Santini.
6 KAMA SUTRA POSITIONS TO TRY
Want to take a page from the Kama Sutra playbook? Give one of these Kama Sutra-inspired positions a try.
But remember — your context is yourcontext, so don’t take these positions as hard-and-fast rules. Instead, consider them loose guidelines that you can modify to fit your needs, desires, and partnerings.
This position happens exactly as you’d guess: standing. Also known as Tripadam, this position is great for quickies. To try it, lean back against a wall with your partner standing in front of you. Then, using the wall to support your back, try lifting one of your legs around their back.
As your partner grinds against you, ramp up the intimacy by gazing into their eyes. Or, bring your lips to their neck and kiss their thrumming heartbeat.
Struggling to hold this position comfortablyandpleasurably? Try using a wand vibrator between your bodies to ramp up the stimulation without ramping up your workout.
Do you and bae have a significant height difference? Give Janukurpara, a whirl. Here, your partner will pick you up so that your legs can wrap around their hips before backing you up against the wall.
Just keep in mind that deep (deep!) penetration is central to this configuration. Experiment with the angle of your pelvis to find a depth and angle that feels best to you. And be sure to communicate with your partner throughout.
If you enjoy doggy style, you'll likely enjoy Plough. To try this position, have the receiver lie face down on the bed so that their legs are spread and hanging off the mattress. Then, have the penetrating partner step between their legs and hold them up while penetrating them anally or vaginally. (Yes, this set-up does resemble the wheelbarrow racing position!).
If this position sounds like a workout, that’s because it is! So consider starting in a less taxing position (like missionary), before finishing up here.
The most iconic Kama Sutra sex position of all time, Lotus is a seated, face-to-face sex position. Interested? Have the partner who is going to be doing the penetrating sit criss-cross applesauce. Then, have the receiver partner climb aboard with their legs wrapped around the bottom partner’s waist. From here, rather than focusing on an in-and-out motion, focus on moving side-to-side or in slow circles. Hello, G-spot stimulation.
The Lotus can also be modified for two partners with vulvas, too. You can use a strap-on dildo or fingers for penetration. Or, if you want to try out scissoring, you can drop one of the top partner’s legs to be underneath one of the bottom partner’s legs (yes, you’ll look and feel like a pretzel).
5. LOTUS ON THE COWGIRL
This Lotus variation is perfect for people who have a rideable vibrator, like The Cowgirl, but no partner.
To try it, outfit the sex machine with your favorite penetrative attachment. Then, when you’re ready, straddle the machine. Once you’re full, rather than easing the attachment in and out of your hole, grind your pelvic against the machine, until you find a rhythm that feels best.
Pro tip: Use plenty of lube! This will prevent any unwanted friction.
Piditaka is a cozy position great for vaginal and anal play alike, and it can be used by partners of all types of genital configurations.
In this position, the receiving partner lays on the their back and pulls their knees toward their chest as the penetration partner kneels in front of them. Once you’re both in position, the receiving partner can rest their feet on the penetrator’s chest, giving the penetrator leverage for the next phase — gently lifting the receiver up so that their hips rest on the penetrator’s thighs.
This position gives you almost full-body contact with each other while also allowing for deep, slow-moving penetration. It’s also offers a great opportunity to add a wand vibrator into the mix for even more intense sensation.
MODIFYING THE KAMA SUTRA FOR LESBIAN AND GAY PARTNERSHIPS
The Kama Sutra is a guidebook for embracing your sensual and sexual pleasure, and that’s somethingeveryonecan do – not just straight and cisgender folks!
While parts of the Kama Sutra focus on intercourse or building up to intercourse, that doesn’t have to be your end goal. In fact, intercourse may not be part of your sex life at all. So, think creatively.
If a position recommends grinding, think about how two partners with vulvas could modify it for scissoring. If penetration is the focus, ask yourself if anal sex could be on the table or if strap-ons or fingers could be brought into play.
Rather than focusing on following any position’s instructions perfectly, focus on exploring what feels good for you and your partner.Anyposition or lesson in the Kama Sutra (and anywhere else, TBH) can be adapted to suit any set of partners.
Cultivatingthatfeeling is exactly what the Kama Sutra is about — regardless of how you get there or who you get there with!