In the late 1970s, Suzie Heumann was a young single mom, living with her daughter on a small farm in Valley Ford, CA.
She supported herself as a waitress, a seamstress, and a part-time designer and builder of solar-powered homes. She also
owned a couple of cows, and when there was too much milk for her to sell or make into butter, she often enjoyed luxurious
She met her second (and current) husband, Michael Heumann, through mutual friends in 1979, when her daughter was eight.
Michael was convinced there was a future in producing VHS videos a brand new phenomenon at the time so the two purchased
rudimentary video equipment and set about building a successful business, creating instructional films for fly fisherman,
small airplane pilots, and other special interests. By the mid eighties, they had branched into cultural travel films,
which took them to Alaska, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, and other points of interest around the globe. A number of their
films ultimately wound up on the Discovery cable channel. Meanwhile, in 1980 and 1984, the couple had two more daughters.
In 1986, a friend introduced the Heumanns to Charles and Caroline Muir, nationally known tantra authorities, who were
presenting a workshop on tantric sexual techniques in Santa Cruz, CA. Suzie and Michael were open to exploratory approaches
to sexuality, having been deeply involved for years with a book entitled ESO: How You and Your Lover Can Give Each Other Hours
of Extended Sexual Orgasm coauthored by the husband and wife, Stanford prof team of Alan and Donna Brauer. The Heumanns had been
happily "turned on" by the ESO practices which, according to Suzie, "were actually Taoist and tantric" though not presented as
The Muirs were interested in having a short, explicit, instructional tantric sex film made, so they invited the Heumanns
to take the Santa Cruz workshop, and then asked them to come along, with their video cameras, to a more extensive week-long
workshop on the island of Maui. By the end of that week, the film was made, the Muirs were pleased and the Heumanns were
inspired. Upon returning home to California, they sought out and joined a tantra community in nearby Marin County called
Celebrations of Love. Over the next several years, Suzie occasionally assisted in leading that group's workshops, and the
couple made their own film about tantra, "Ancient Secrets of Sexual Ecstasy".
Michael Heumann, once again demonstrating foresight into the power of an emerging medium, saw opportunity in the World
Wide Web, and in early 1995, the Heumanns established tantra.com, primarily as a way to promote Ancient Secrets. Since that
time, tantra.com has grown into one of the Web's premier tantra and kama sutra web sites, a "portal", as Suzie likes to call
it, for useful information pertaining to "sacred sexuality." The site includes hundreds of audio files and articles on topics
ranging from "The One-Hour Orgasm" to "Dissolving the Effects of Abuse"; dozens of explicit instructional videos on everything
from effective communication, sensual touch, and eye gazing, to G spot stimulation, sexual positions, and oral sex techniques;
and online interactive courses. Yet there is no mistaking tantra.com for a porn site, because, as Suzie succinctly points out,
"Pornography is not what real sex looks like."
Over the last decade and a half, many people have turned to Suzie for advice about "real sex." For several years, she has been
invited to the annual convention of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. At their 2008 meeting,
she co facilitated an advanced tantra workshop, and also participated in a four-woman panel on the subject of bringing a feminist
perspective to sexuality. In 2004, HBO recruited Suzie's participation in its documentary series Real Sex, which includes a
lengthy segment of Suzie leading a tantric sexuality retreat. Suzie was also a regular guest for several years on a New York based
internet radio show; her 40+ hours of programming are now among the downloads available on her web site.
As Suzie expanded tantra.com, Michael went back to producing instructional videos for a variety of industries. The couple
collaborated on two more tantric sex videos, "The Art of Orgasm for Men" and "The Art of Orgasm for Women", both films featuring
world renowned tantra expert and sex educator, Margot Anand. More recently, Suzie has produced ten short YouTube videos on
"Enlightened Sex," featuring herself.
Suzie is the author of three books: "The Everything Great Sex Book" (Adams Media, 2004), 'The Everything Kama Sutra Book"
(Adams Media, 2004) and "The Rules of Love: The 64 Arts of the Kama Sutra" (Sterling and Hollan, 2008). She is currently at
work on her fourth book, about how the latest brain/body chemistry research reinforces the tenets of western tantra.
I sat down to speak with Suzie at tantra.com's informal, pleasantly appointed offices in Sebastopol, California last August.
I found Suzie gracious, open, and exuberant, and her small office staff easygoing and welcoming.
Polonsky: When and how did you decide that your calling in life had to do with sex?
Heumann: I've always been very sensual, and my upbringing was liberal and expansive. My parents loved nature, they loved
to garden, and they took my siblings and me on long, marvelous camping trips. So the wild, the world of the senses, has very
positive associations for me from the time I was very young. Also, during high school, I was right in the thick of the San
Francisco scene when the bands were playing for free in the parks, and there was this great flowering of sexual freedom.
So there wasn't one particular catalyst, though I did have a profound experience in 1986, during the week we filmed the Muirs
in Maui. Up until that time, I had never witnessed other women in orgasm. But we made a 15-minute film showing Charles stimulating
Caroline's G-spot, bringing her to orgasm and female ejaculation. That night, Michael and I were making love, and I remembered
that Caroline had made some very interesting noises, and I decided to try to imitate those sounds just to see what would happen.
Well, the minute I started making those sounds, I went into immediate orgasm and ejaculation! It was like a transmission had
occurred, and a whole new circuit had opened in me, which remains in effect to this day.
Polonsky: That sounds lovely but also a little intense. Were you at all frightened?
Heumann: No, though I did have a more unsettling experience a day or two before that. On the second day we were in Maui,
I participated in a session led by a very accomplished breath work specialist. She had thirty or forty of us lie down in a big
room, and she was coaching us through the fire breath, which creates a complete circuit through your chakras, charging you up.
I had never done transformational breathing before. All of a sudden my body transformed, so that the whole area from my genitals
to my fifth chakra my abdomen, my stomach, my heart was one oval body cavity, containing a Hindu woman who was sitting holding a
dying baby. The baby was crying and the woman was crying. And she was in ecstasy and she was in agony. It was as though I was
possessed; I couldn't make her go away. It sends chills through me even now because I can still see her.
Polonsky: Were you sharing or witnessing the woman's emotions?
Heumann: Witnessing. I was crying, I was moved, but I identified as the witness of ecstasy and agony in the same moment,
not as the person to whom it was happening. It was as if a cosmic egg had opened up inside of me, my body was the body of the
goddess, and I was witnessing humanity. This was not a sexual experience at all, but it was part of what made me realize how
powerfully breath can move energy, and take you to ecstatic places that we normally ascribe only to saints and martyrs. Put that
together with sexual practices and the sky is the limit!
Polonsky: What exactly is tantra?
Heumann: Well, there's a huge difference between original tantra and the tantra we practice today in the West. True
tantra originated in ancient Hindu society, and was very esoteric and rigorous. Sexuality was just a tiny part of it. To be
a tantra practitioner, you had to be chosen by a guru at a very young age. The guru would set you a series of tasks, which
would reveal your character, your fears, and where you were willing to risk yourself. The guru would push you over many years,
as a means of facilitating your personal development. You might have to say a certain mantra ten thousand or a hundred thousand
times, or live in a cave for three years, or constantly perform devotions to various deities. Only some students were initiated
into the sexual practices, years after they had successfully mastered the extremely demanding personal and devotional practices.
We really don't know all that much about those ancient sexuality practices. We have had to infer them from ancient Hindu
writings that were interpreted and reinterpreted and retranslated numerous times. Also, many of the ancient practices were so
secret they were never even written down! We know this though: In ancient times, if you went into the tantric sex practices
with any notion of seeking your own pleasure, you left! If you were a man, you were there as God, and if you were a woman, you
were the Goddess, and you absolutely had to stay in that character in that presence with the greater God or Goddess for the entire ceremony, because you were there to sacrifice your small self for the greater good of everyone. It was a magical rite and highly rigorous.
But that is not what we're doing today. We westerners have latched on to the sexual part of tantra, and it's only fair to call
this "western tantra" or "neo tantra." It's a hodge podge of modern psychology, Reichian therapies, some sensate-focused stuff,
and connective practices that people make up, all blended together with modern interpretations of the ancient tantric sex
Polonsky: But then, isn't there a concern that western tantra is not authentic?
Heumann: Oh, some people have huge concerns, but I don't. It's like the Dalai Lama said about Buddhism, that it's
most alive today in America, because people in this country are living it and changing it and figuring out how to make it useful
in their lives. Similarly, the western tantra movement is an extension of a living tradition; it has done tremendous good, and
Polonsky: Your web site also features a great deal of material on the Kama Sutra. Is the Kama Sutra an expression of
Heumann: No, they're not related, though they both have Hindu origins. Before it was written down, between 300 and 400
A.D., the Kama Sutra had an oral history of thousands of years. Ancient Hindu society looked at the art of living as one
integrated science, and the Kama Sutra was a manual on how to conduct yourself as a citizen. It includes instruction on the
art of playing games, the art of speech, flower arranging, and all kinds of things. It has one chapter on sexuality, as sex
was considered one of the sciences of life.
The chapter on sex is divided into 64 artseight sections of eight. One section is on eight different ways you can bite your
lover, all of which have very specific purposes and must be done in a strictly prescribed fashion. For example, a man should leave
certain marks on the belly of the woman if he is to be gone for several weeks. He has to bite her hard and draw blood, so she can
remind herself of him. Another section is on eight types of scratching, with different nails, and the patterns you should leave.
One pattern is called "the peacock's foot," one's called "the leaf of a blue lotus," another is called "the jump of a hare," and
there are five more. There's also a section on eight ways of kissing.
Only three of the eight sections in the chapter are on sex positions. So in the entire Kama Sutra, there are actually only
24 positions. And they don't even talk about oral sex for women! Only men get to receive oral sex in the Kama Sutra. People think
there are 64 Kama Sutra positions, or even hundreds. My latest book is a color photography book on sexual positions, and the
publisher told me, "We want you to do a book on the 64 Kama Sutra sex positions." I said, "But the Kama Sutra only has 24
positions." They said, "We don't care; we want 64." So I ended up drawing from the Ananga Ranga, another ancient Hindu sex
manual, and The Perfumed Garden, a 15th century Islamic sex manual written in Persia, for my additional 40 positions.
I was up front about that in my opening chapter.
The Kama Sutra also contains a chapter on how men should treat courtesans, and a chapter on how men who have multiple wives
should conduct themselves, and how their women should conduct themselves. The chapter on how to court is very elaborate; you
had to go through intermediaries; the man and woman couldn't even see each other. Most people today aren't aware that the Kama
Sutra is a product of a very rigid ancient society, and it's full of details and rules that most modern westerners would not be
Polonsky: So then, in a nutshell, the goal of ancient tantra was spiritual purification, and the purpose of the Kama
Sutra was to foster well-adjusted citizenship. What are the objectives of modern Western tantra, and do they bear any relationship
to those of the old version?
Heumann: I'd say the primary objective of western tantra is to lessen the sense of duality that exists between people,
to deepen our connectedness, to break down barriers so that love can be more present. There is nothing that separates me from you
really. We each have a skin, but we're exchanging molecules of oxygen and CO2 even right this moment. When you get down to it,
everyone has the same needs and desires; we are one.
Westerners are involved with sacred sexuality because we are searching for a personal experience of spirit. Many people start
with the sexual practices and then move on to the more esoteric breath and emotional practices. Today, just like in ancient times, tantra is about risking, and pushing the edges of discovery. Tantra basically says, "Say yes to everything." In that way, you get beyond maya, the veil of illusion, much faster. All the outrageous experiences you can have aren't really what life's about. It's ultimately about presence, about being.
Polonsky: But outrageous experiences seem to be precisely what western tantra promises. When you and Michael joined
your tantric community some twenty years ago, weren't you searching for new experiences? And was polyamory part of it?
Heumann: No! We did not go there to find other partners. People think that the tantric community has everything to do
with polyamory, but it does not. We shared activities like sufi dancing, large group singing, dancing in circles within circles,
and various presence-ing exercises, such as breath work and eye gazing. Adoring touch was part of it too, but it wasn't sexual.
Some self-selected small groups did explore advanced sexual practices, but the rituals shared within that community were not
about sexual love.
Over time, when you participate in groups like that, and you do enough of these practices, your separateness tends to fall
away. Even gender starts to fall away. You could be touching a man or a woman, and it doesn't matter, because it's all about your
presence with that person. It's hard for people who have never done any of this to understand, but you can create a space where
pure love can shine through, where you're dropping duality and separateness. That is the purpose.
Polonsky: But isn't one of the most salient goals of tantric sex to increase pleasure and extend orgasm?
Heumann: Sure. I think it's highly important to increase orgasmic capacity, and tune into the subtleties of sensation
in your body. That's transformational, and I can bring it into my life 24/7, from writing an article to having a business meeting.
I can be present and involved, wanting to expand everything I do to its most delicate and exquisite place, because that's what I
practice during sex. There might be other ways to find that capacity, maybe through yoga or meditation, but sex works for me. And
yes, of course, sexual pleasure is desirable in and of itself. But it isn'tand never has beenthe ultimate goal of tantra. And
it certainly doesn't require multiple partners.
Polonsky: But isn't it natural to desire novelty in sex? And isn't a new partner the most enticing form of novelty?
Heumann: Tantra is novelty! There are so many things you can explore with it. When we think about novelty, we often
think of cheating, or having multiple partners or an open relationship. Or we think of S and M practices, which are increasingly
popular, because people in this culture are constantly craving the next level of excitement, a bigger dopamine rush in the brain.
That neural reward circuit is addictive, which is why so many westerners tend to move into compulsive cycles of smoking, drinking,
drug taking, internet surfing, multitasking, fast driving, and just pushing the edges all the time, just looking for those highs.
So people's sexuality gravitates to harder faster stronger. "Give me something more powerful, more edgy, more out there."
Tantric practices are edgy in a different way. When you move backwards into subtle areas of breath, softer presence, sensual
touch . . . those kinds of practices are expandable for a lifetime! You can get more and more minute with what you're exploring.
You can look for a new erogenous zone here (under the eye), or here (on the neck), or it suddenly dawns on you to try using both
your hands in some different way when you're touching your partner, or to try to get your partner to move energy by brushing
energy away from their genitals up to their chest. And then they get the idea, "Oh that feels different! I've got to breathe
deeper and expand into this . . ." So you're always in new territory!
Now maybe a person who's really into BDSM might say you can always expand those practices and find more territory there as well.
Well fine, but at some point, doing that, you're going to be playing with some seriously dangerous edges. Whereas with tantra,
the scary edges are more likely to move you into kundalini experiences, or profound states of consciousness, or super-deep
intimacy where you don't know where your body went, where you've gotten so involved in the lovemaking that your boundaries
have dissolved and you don't know whether it's you or your partner who's having the orgasm.
Polonsky: So tantric sexuality permits you to experience ongoing novelty with your partner and keeps monogamy
Heumann: Yes, and it also keeps us bonded, with the neurochemicals that are generated during these experiences.
It's a huge area for two people to expand into together. And it translates into the everyday life of a relationship.
Polonsky: But what about the simple animal beauty of younger people? Aren't we still hardwired to be attracted to
younger bodies, as a general rule?
Heumann: Sure, I think we're all stuck in that to some extent. But when you're with your partner, no matter who
they are, and you're doing these practices, the physical form kind of dissolves away. Instead, you are with your partner's
god or goddess essence. Remember, western tantric practices involve your visualization capability and your mind and your breath.
As you're moving the energy through yourself and circulating it with your lover, you dissolve into each other. So the body's
form just isn't as important.
A lot of middle aged people go into tantra looking for a new level of excitement, but they're also wiser and more spiritually
aware than when they were young, and maybe they've had some experiences of this profound momentary merging with a partner. So
they're thinking in the back of their minds, "Oh there's a little doorway out there which I don't know how to open, but it's
opened a few times for me." A lot of young people are interested in tantra too. If you can get people interested at an earlier
age, the benefits are huge both for their personal development and their relationship potential.
Polonsky: But do young people need tantra? Isn't sex naturally exciting enough when you're young?
Heumann: In a way, yes, if you're talking about average everyday sex. Young people aren't bored with it yet, and they
have the hormones to support them. But I think the biggest misconception out there is that good sex should come naturally and
people should just know how to do it. I don't think you really wind up having a satisfying sex life that way, even when you're
young. People get very disappointed when great sex doesn't happen magically, or it doesn't happen the way Cosmo Magazine says
it's supposed to. Or maybe it was wonderful at first, but then the pressures of life intrude and you don't know how to navigate
sex to the next level.
Polonsky: But does sex always have to be great? You use the term "everyday sex" like that's a problem. Do you make a
stark distinction between "sacred sex" and "normal sex," and, if so, is it always necessary for sex to be sacred?
Heumann: I do make that distinction, and I do think it should always be sacred. My partner and I don't always have
sacred sex, but I know the difference, and I don't enjoy it when it's not deeply connective. Sacred sex is a profound merging,
an absolute presence with another person for long periods of time. You're not off in some fantasy place, your partner is not
preoccupied by some worry; you're both present right there in the moment.
Tantric sexual practices may look like a lot to learn. But though they're very involved, you can get better at them. And once
you do, when you're truly making love in a tantric way, you forget about the techniques because they simply flow out of you. And
the most important thing is that you are focused and present with your partner. Sadly, I think very little sex happens that way.
Polonsky: On the one hand, you say that sacred sex requires both partners to be fully present, not off in fantasy. Yet,
you say that visualization is an element of tantric sex. What exactly is the difference between fantasy and visualization?
Heumann: The difference is becoming more present, rather than less so. When you imagine your partner as a god or goddess,
this makes you more present with that person. You're not thinking about other people, or imagining the orgy scene you saw in a
porno movie. Also, visualization is usually something a couple will agree on ahead of time, so it's a shared experience. For
example, if you're doing breath work and eye gazing, on the in breath you might imagine the breath rising out of your belly,
up your chakras, out through your seventh chakra at the top of your head, and showering over your lover. Your partner is
imagining the same thing, so you're passing energy back and forth and through one another. The mirror flows of energy rising
up and out and into both of you form a heart-like shape. You can do this in an intercourse position too, like yab yum, or a
Polonsky: But doesn't all this insistence on sacredness make sex much less simple than it can be?
Heumann: But I don't think sex should be simple. I think it should be a profound experience. The whole reason that the
ancient tantrics and Taoists devised methods to prolong orgasm is that they realized orgasm takes us to a wholly different place,
but only momentarily. So the idea was to extend that ecstatic moment and make it a portal into higher states of consciousness.
Polonsky: Let me approach this from a different direction. Your web site contains a lot of sacred iconography: ornate
renderings of gods and goddesses, candles, and various archetypal images. I wonder if this doesn't just add a lot of psychic
clutter to the idea of sex. Even the term "sacred" comes with baggage, evoking early religious experiences which may be positive
Is it possible to convey the spiritual quality of sex without bringing in the iconography? For individuals who cannot relate
to the gods and goddesses, might not such images only serve to lengthen their distance from their own authentic sexuality?
Heumann: Absolutely! You're right. That's why every individual has to choose the imagery they want to refer to, but
they have to pick something, because we are an image based species. It's ingrained in us. I don't know any woman who can hold
an ancient goddess image in her hand and not feel something about it. We all have sacred images we relate to. Take something as
simple as a heart shape. You find a heart rock on the beach and you love it; you take it home and put it on your doorstep or
your fireplace mantle or by your bed. It's sacred iconographyand it happens to look very much like a woman's yoni. Of course,
male symbols of sacred iconography are everywhere. Just look at any tall building or a space shuttle or the Washington monument.
It wasn't that long ago in the history of humans that we held nature as sacred. Even in this modern world, which is really
very new, we're heavily impacted by iconography whether we choose to be or not. So pick and choose what gets you off. I don't
care if it's a stiletto shoe you put on your altar. I don't care if it's a heart with an arrow through it or the Virgin Mary or
the goddess Kali, but I do think it's important to consciously call on those forces. Sacred images will move you and take you
places if you focus on them.
Brain research supports this too. The parietal lobe, which is the region of the brain that interprets the data we perceive
through our five senses, is also the area where we daydream and visualize. So, you take an exquisite touch from your lover,
it's received in your parietal lobe, and there you combine that sensation with visions of your chosen iconography: a candle,
a yantra, your lover's body, a picture on the wall of your bedroom. And you're actually building that lobe as you visualize
ecstatic pleasure coursing through your body. You are strengthening your capacity to visualize, and to magnify sensation.
Polonsky: But you don't want to frame the sacred experience as a simple matter of brain chemistry, do you?
Heumann: Well, we are chemical beings. That's a fact. I think it's fascinating. Take pheromones, the attraction
chemicals we produce. We pass them in our breath and through our sweat glands, behind our ears, under our arms. There have
been studies done on lap dancers, correlating the amount of tips they make to where they are in their menstrual cycles. When
they're ovulating they make ten times what they do when they're on their period, because pheromones are produced during ovulation.
Then there's dopamine, which is the reward neurochemical. It typically builds during a sexual event. At the moment of orgasm,
it drops off and serotonin rises, and that's the so-called depressive, refractory period, which is especially acute for men
because they ejaculate.
Oxytocin, the bonding chemical, is also very important. Scientists used to think oxytocin was produced in only three different
ways: through nursing, childbirth, and orgasm (which meant only one way for men). But it turns out we also produce and deliver
oxytocin through touching, kissing, caressing, and even eye gazing. So we're playing with neurochemicals all the time, and it's
useful to understand that.
Polonsky: Do you think this type of information should be taught to kids in school?
Heumann: Yes, and I also think it would be fantastic to teach some of the mind/spirit western tantra practices to
adolescents. For example, if we taught about exquisite touch, like running fingertips down your boyfriend or girlfriend's arm, or simple breath work or eye gazing or yoga, we can help kids realize that conscious behavior is more desirable than blanking out, and that softer, slower approaches to sexuality and sensuality are rewarding. In our society, kids usually enter into sex unconsciously; they're drunk or they've taken drugs around their first sexual experiences.
Can you imagine asking junior high kids to simply sit across from a member of the opposite sex, eye gazing and breathing in
synch, but not touching? That's an edgy exercise for an adult to do, let alone a kid. But you quickly get over the awkwardness
of it, and the result is that, afterward, a boy can go up to a girl or a girl can go up to a boy and look them in the eye and
say hi, instead of giggling and hiding behind a post, because they've learned to be more conscious and present.
Studies have shown that there is a much lower incidence of pregnancy and STDs among kids who go to schools where they're
taught about sexual anatomy and condom use, and those kids are also more likely to postpone having intercourse. The more they
know, the more they understand the awesome responsibility that comes with intercourse, especially in today's world. With better
information, they make clearer decisions for themselves. So why not also teach the value of integrity, truth telling, and being
fully present with emotions and sensations? How about giving them some practice in communicating honestly to each other about sex?
Polonsky: Are you suggesting there should be tantric sex educators in the schools?
Heumann: Yes! And there are actually a couple of sex therapists who have started a teen tantra curriculum under the
auspices of Planned Parenthood on the east coast. We need more of that.
We hide sex, even though it's everywhere in our culture. We use it to sell all kinds of stuff , but it's still this mysterious
thing that we don't really talk about with the kids. So they get "educated" by their peers, which is horrendous, because their
peers know next to nothing. Or worse yet, nowadays, a lot of boys in particular learn about sex from looking at pornography on
the internet, which is totally warped. There are some great sites for teens, like GoAskAlice.com, where they can get excellent
explicit information, but that isn't where they surf to.
When my own kids were teens and they brought friends over for dinner, I brought up the subject of sex. When my girls had
parties, I would say to the kids who came early, "Okay now, everybody sit down, and we're going to have a sex talk. Anybody
have questions? Here I am." My girls got embarrassed but years later they told me, "Gosh, Mom, it was great. Our friends
loved it." The bottom line is that parents should not be abdicating sex education to the schools, much less the media.
Polonsky: I'm wondering if tantra has anything to offer elderly people. Or women who've had a hysterectomy and aren't
producing much vaginal fluid or sex hormones anymore, or men who've had prostate surgery and can't ejaculate, and may not get
Heumann: I definitely think so, especially with some of the more intimate touch practices. Touch builds dopamine, and
we still have so many organs that are functioning, like our skin, which is exquisitely sensitive. You can even orgasm without
having sex if you learn to breathe right and focus your mind. It doesn't require genital touch. I know a lot of people who can
have ecstatic full-body orgasm just through breath. Tantra gives you a whole palette of things to expand upon as you grow older.
Polonsky: And men can have orgasms without ejaculating?
Heumann: Oh yeah. Orgasm and ejaculation don't go together. They look like they do, because they've normally been
collapsed into thatand because our society does not honor sex. Therefore, young men masturbate furtively, conditioning
themselves to ejaculate quickly. Men need to change that experience pattern.
At first, you have to exercise self control to not go over the top. Within a couple of weeks, with practice, you can get much
better at that; it gets easier and easier to approach climax without ejaculating. You might use a scale of one to ten, and when
you get to a seven, stop, breathe, and extend the length of time where you're just that aroused. As you gain control, you can
start expanding the period of time between seven and nine point nine, where you're moving into the orgasmic phase. Then, by
fully relaxing your body, you don't allow the smooth muscles of the urethra and the pelvic floor to go into spasm. So yes,
men can experience orgasm without ejaculation. And you can do it multiple times in one lovemaking session.
Polonsky: What other techniques might you recommend in preparation for ageing?
Heumann: I'm a big advocate of doing kegels, for both women and men. Kegels are exercises that strengthen your
pubococcygeus muscle, or PC muscle, which is the muscle that supports your pelvic organs. Kegels are simply the contracting
and releasing of that muscle, which I recommend doing about 200 times a day. The easiest method is to just sit on the toilet
and stop and start the stream of your pee. (You don't want to be doing your kegels this way! This is just to find the muscles)
Use this maybe: You can find your PC muscles by stopping and starting the flow of urine the next time you go to the toilet. But
you can do kegels anywhere, anytime. Just make a habit out of squeezing and releasing throughout the day. There are vast
benefits. For one thing, you increase the blood flow to your genitals, which is what arousal and engorgement are all about.
Secondly, you're not going to have urinary incontinence as you age because your whole pelvic region will be tighter and stronger
and healthier. Also, for women, it builds up the muscle wall in the interior of the vagina, which creates a tighter fit around
the penis during intercourse, and helps directs more pressure on the woman's G-spot. Hence, it makes it a lot easier for a woman
to have vaginal, G-spot orgasms.
Polonsky: It seems all the tantric iconography and sexual practices are about the male-female, penis-vagina polarity.
Is tantra at all relevant to gay people?
Heumann: Traditional tantra would say no, but western tantra says yes. In fact, one of the main goals of tantra is to
develop and embrace both the male and female aspects of yourself, to become a more balanced and integrated individual, not to be
hyper masculine or hyper feminine. Gender is not absolute; we all have estrogen and testosterone, for example. Some of the videos
and other materials on tantra.com are specifically for gays and lesbians.
Polonsky: Surely many people see personal pleasure as the main goal of any sexual practice. Is there a danger that
tantra can become a self-indulgent, narcissistic endeavor?
Heumann: Absolutely. I have seen enormous amounts of narcissistic behavior in the western tantra community, people
looking at it as a "harder stronger better" kind of sexual pursuit. But as they delve further into it, those people tend to
either fall away from tantra, or they begin to see that self-indulgence is a trap, and then they back up and start doing some
of the more esoteric awareness practices.
But again, pleasure is healthy! As a society, I think most of us have a very low capacity for pleasure. I don't just mean
sex. I mean being more tactile in our orientation, learning to receive more touch, feeling the wind rush past your body, swimming,
getting in bed at night and rolling around in your clean sheets for a few minutes. Tactile pleasure makes us more whole.
I believe we all need sensual touch every day!
Also, tantra pierces the veil of duality between us and our partners, and when we see ourselves in one other (another) person,
we begin to see ourselves in all of humanity. Then a lot of our angst falls away. We stop seeing ourselves as special and
separate; we become more empathic and loving. So it's really the opposite of narcissism.
Polonsky: Here's a big question. What do you see as the future of sex?
Heumann: Well unfortunately, I think we're going virtual. There are so many ways to communicate these days via
electronics, and I believe we're going to see a rise in very sophisticated teledildonicspeople remotely controlling devices
to stimulate a partner somewhere across the country. There's already stuff like that.
But historically, every time we go too far one way, there is always a reaction the other way. Portions of the population
are now moving in the direction of multiple partners, cyber sex, fuck bodies, and lots of sex that isn't particularly sacred.
But a strong counter current will balance the scales. The universe always seeks to balance itself, I believe. The reason that
secret tantric sex practices arose in the first place was that the Brahmins were telling everybody what to believe and how to
behave, but people wanted a first-hand experience of spirit coming through. I am confident there will continue to be a growing
segment of the population that embraces sacredness and a more ecstatic, connected, present experience of sexuality.
See: Wordsmith Marc Polonsky