Does your relationship feel flat? Have you lost the romance in your marriage? Is your bedroom about as passionate as the kitchen sink? The answer isn’t sexual acrobatics or a crash course in the Kama Sutra, but a few lessons in sensuality. Sensuality is about feeling in touch with your body – and with your partner’s. It’s about awakening all the senses and feeling truly alive. Rekindling your innate sensuality is simple when you follow the advice of natural therapies. There is far more to treatments like reflexology, shiatsu and yoga than just curing or preventing illness. These therapies all work at a deep level to balance mind and body: just what is needed to put you back in touch with your body and feelings. Plus many of them have some sure-fire short-cuts to put passion back where it belongs: in your body and in the bedroom. Try this seven-step plan to tempt sensuality back into your life…
STEP ONE: HIT THE SPOT WITH REFLEXOLOGY
Not so much sucking toes, but pressing them. Reflexology teaches that every part of the human body is represented in the feet and that, by clearing blockages in the energy channels (meridians) you can stimulate the whole body. So a few minutes of soothing foot massage before bedtime not only relaxes your partner but can also stir desire. “It is inviting and prepares you for intimacy by soothing and clearing your mind of worries and allowing you to unwind,” says reflexologist Sonia Ducie, author of The Self-Help Reflexology Handbook (Vermilion).
First gently hold and massage the feet all over. Then press firmly over the tops of all the toes with your index finger. Pay special attention to the big toe: press the pad firmly with your thumb. Now press all around the “waist” of the big toe on both feet. Move onto the foot itself and press into the ball, under the big toe; then right across the area under the toes. The area around the ankle is important – gently press in a ring around the ankle and into the area around the ankle joint. Finish by massaging the whole foot again, perhaps using scented oil (see the next step for ideas).
STEP TWO: DISCOVER SENSUAL SCENTS WITH AROMATHERAPY
Essential oils work directly on the nervous system, affecting not just our bodies but also our minds and emotions. Although aromatherapy cannot offer a fail-safe “attraction factor” it can help to create a mood, relax inhibitions and make you feel more warm and loving. Aromatherapist Valerie-Ann Worwood, author of several books on aromatherapy, suggests these super-sensual oils: “Ylang-ylang is excitingly exotic and intensely sweet; it stimulates the senses. Jasmine is seductive, relaxing and lifts the mood. Patchouli is earthy and sexual, it stimulates the nervous system. Coriander is spicy, warm and provocative. Nutmeg is provocative, seductive but calming, it disperses anxiety.”
Always buys good quality pure essential oils and use very sparingly. A few drops of your chosen oil in a oil burner or a bowl of hot water will scent the whole room. Two drops (no more) of an oil in the bath will be relaxing and stimulating. Or use a drop or two of your chosen oils in a base oil, such as sweet almond, for a sensual massage (see Step 7). Tazeka Aromatherapy offers his and hers sensual blends that, when dabbed on your pulse points, can turn on your inner god and goddess!
STEP THREE: PUSH THE RIGHT BUTTONS WITH SHIATSU
Shiatsu is like acupuncture without the needles – pressing specific points on the body can produce very profound results. There are several points which can be looked on as sensuality “trigger points”. You can use these points on your partner either clothed or unclothed. Learning how to find the precise points takes time and training but if you massage around the area in question you will certainly hit the right spot from time to time. For most points use the three centre fingers of your hand. Press into the point for five seconds and release. Repeat several times.
First focus on the area of the lower back, either side of the spine, just above the buttocks. Press around this area with the heel of your hand – this area promotes sensuality in a woman. Next press gently with your thumb down the very base of the spine, the sacrum, towards the tailbone. This is good for both partners. There are hoards of shiatsu points all around the upper thighs – you can gently press around this area, or simply give a smooth massage (most people find this absolutely divine). Now move up to the area from the collar-bone down the breast-bone. There are a line of points either side of the breast-bone. Press firmly.
STEP FOUR: EAT THE GOOD SEX DIET
Aphrodisiacs have been scoffed at by scientists for being nothing more than pie in the sky. But osmologists (expert on smell) say that certain foods truly are erotic in that they emanate pheromones (hormone-like odorants) which seduce the senses. Aromatherapist Chrissie Wildwood, author of The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy (Bloomsbury) suggests the following as foods of love. “Champagne and camembert cheese contain odour nuances that stimulate both sexes,” she says, “as do sun-warmed raspberries, fresh figs and olives. Sweet and mellow foods – banana, chocolate, almond, cashew nuts, coconut, butter, dairy cream and vanilla – are erotic because they have “mouth feel”. The coldness of ice cream gives an initial charge of excitement, followed by a sensuous sweet, smooth afterglow as it warms in the mouth.” A glass or two of alcohol is included in the equation. “Wine from the red grape cabernet sauvignon scents the whole body within six hours of drinking,” says Chrissie. But if you fancy something different try mead or elderflower wine. “Mead is the classic aphrodisiac – in Saxon times newlyweds drank it for a month (hence “honeymoon”) to sustain sexual desire and stamina. Elderflower wine also gives an immediate erotic charge due to the musky aroma of the flowers.”
STEP FIVE: DISCOVER DEEP STRETCHING FOR INCREASED SENSUALITY
If you really want to improve your sensuality, start exercising. Research has proved that those who exercise regularly have better sex and more of it. Exercise boosts energy and increases flexibility but above all, it enhances body consciousness (the ability to tune into how your body feels). According to Canadian research, swimming, tai chi, yoga, dance and skating are the best sensuality boosters. Try these deep stretching exercises to increase flexibility and body consciousness.
First lie on your back, arms outstretched. Exhale, bringing your right knee to your chest, then twist your torso to the left until your lower leg is resting on the floor. As you roll, let your right arm be pulled behind you. Return to the starting position, then repeat to the other side. Do this three times on each side, in one slow continuous movement.
Next lie on your right side, arms and legs at right angles to your body (like a dog lying on its side). Extend your left arm and leg in front, then lift both wide to the side until your legs are in an open “V” shape. Continue rolling, letting your right arm and leg follow, feeling the stretch in the inner thighs, until you’re on your left side. Repeat in the other direction. Repeat three times, focusing on “opening” and “closing” the body.
STEP SIX: PUT YOUR BEDROOM IN ORDER WITH FENG SHUI
Could your bedroom itself help bring sensuality into your life? “Absolutely,” says feng shui expert Sarah Shurety, author of Quick Feng Shui Cures (Rider). She explains that by making subtle shifts in your bedroom you could attract much more sensuality and romance. Ideally your bed should be positioned against a wall, in the opposite corner to the door. Keep your bedroom clear of clutter and make sure it is clean, warm and comfortable. Avoid having anything in your bedroom that represents your work. Don’t take your work to bed with you or have piles of work papers by the bed. Keep your bedroom free from bookshelves if possible – they will distract your mind. And if you do have to have your desk or work in your bedroom minimise the problem by pulling across a screen at night so you can’t see it. Display pictures of couples or soft romantic landscapes and keep mirrors small with round or oval frames (you shouldn’t be able to see yourself in the mirror while you’re in bed). Choose soft materials and rounded shapes in your bedroom. Curved lines stimulate harmony and encourage the smooth, relaxed movement of chi (vital energy). This is one room in the house that above all needs to avoid the stark modern look.
Colour is important in feng shui – for sensuality you need to introduce some pinks or reds into the room. Too much red would prove over-stimulating, says Sarah, but a beautiful red velvet throw or some sumptuous cushions would be ideal. Finally candles represent the element of fire which also symbolises passion. Choose red or pink candles to softly light the room and get your love life glowing.
STEP SEVEN: ENJOY THE SOOTHING POWER OF TOUCH WITH MASSAGE
Massage is simply the superlative way to relax, let go of the day and form a deep emotional bond with your partner. “Massage is important,” says Dr Miriam Stoppard, “because not only does it have the general effect of relaxing you and giving you the opportunity to really think about and enjoy touching, but it allows you to focus your senses acutely and deeply on the responses aroused in your body.”
First make sure your room is warm and cosy. Light candles (scented ones are ideal) and put on some relaxing music in the background. Choose a massage oil with a scent you both like. You don’t have to be an expert in massage – just remember to keep a slow steady rhythm with the right amount of pressure for your partner. Start on the back with your thumbs on either side of the spine, fingers pointing towards the neck. Allow your hands to glide slowly up the body and around the shoulders. Draw your hands lightly down the side of the back to your starting position. This is known as effleurage, one of the major movements of massage. Repeat at least six times. Fleshy areas such as hips and thighs can be kneaded gently – lift, squeeze and roll the skin between the thumb and fingers of one hand and glide it towards the other hand. Knuckling produces a pleasant effect: curl your fingers into loose fists, keeping the fingers (not the knuckles) against the skin. Make small circling movements on the shoulders, palms of the hands, soles of the feet and chest. Now try forming your hands into cup shapes and with quick light movements move over the skin – particularly the whole back area – as if you were beating a drum with alternative hands. As you reach the end of your sensual massage you want to wake your partner up so use light pummeling – put your hands into loose fists and lightly bounce the side of the hands alternatively against the skin.
A version of this feature first appeared in the Daily Mail.