Psalm Isadora is the top tantra expert in the world and a highly sought-after sexuality, relationship, and trauma expert specializing in women’s health and empowerment as well as modern sexual education. In this weekly advice column, Psalm brings her expertise to sexual and relationship issues most people face at one time or another. If you want to ask Psalm your questions (anonymously), email email@example.com.
Question: I'm finding that I want things a little rougher in the bedroom than usual, but I still want the connection of tantra with my boyfriend. Can rough sex and tantra go hand-in-hand?
Absolutely! In fact, rough sex dates back to what people consider the oldest authority on sex—the Kamasutra—which was written around 400 B.C. The Kamasutra has whole chapters on rough sex, actually.
Before we get into it, though, just check in with yourself to make sure that you want rough sex for the right reasons. A woman at one of my workshops recently told me that in the course of her marriage when things weren't going well, her husband would pursue rough sex as a way of taking his aggression out on her. If you feel like your interest in rough sex might be related to unresolved emotions, you'd be better off working out that aggression by talking to your partner about the issues you're facing.
Another client told me that she had a hard time feeling anything because she was so closed off to her own body. She couldn't feel pleasure without feeling shame because of past sexual trauma. Rough sex won't fix that. It only complicates things further. So, if that's the case, try my Tantra 101 class and/or talk to a therapist. You need to get back in touch with your body before you explore different kinds of sex.
All that said, rough sex can be really fun if you're just looking to spice things up with some role play and explore new things. Often when a woman has a Type-A personality (you know, the boss lady in charge), she likes to be more submissive and let her partner take control in the bedroom. This is perfectly normal.
And yes, rough sex, when you're doing it for the right reasons in the right way, can deepen your connection to your partner. Here are a few tantric techniques to try:
The Kamasutra has a chapter titled "The Art of Scratching" that details the different kinds of marks lovers make with their nails, as well as how to scratch, when to scratch, and why to scratch.
One line reads, "The nails are used for scratching and scraping in order to increase excitation. [Scratching and biting] have the same effect[s] of increasing [excitement] and showing domination."
The Kamasutra describes eight kinds of nail marks, including the Peacock's Claw, which is described as such: "When the nipple is seized by all five nails and pulled outwards, the nail marks around the breasts are known as the peacock's claw."
In Tantra, we use our nails in a more gentle way—using feather-light touch. So, you'll more lightly touch your partner or yourself to awaken your senses. But you can up the intensity on this method and dig your nails in just a bit—just don't go so far that you draw blood.
To stay connected with your partner during this kind of rough play, try to sync your breathing and maintain eye contact while you run your sharp fingernails up and down their body starting with a light touch and slowly adjusting to create a more intense sensation.
The other tantric principle it's important to hold on to is consciousness. Even when your sex is rough, you should approach it with awe, respect, and total presence. When you can maintain eye contact, you know you're exchanging sexual energy with your partner through your eyes. This is a very powerful tool for building intimacy, and it also forces you to pay attention to what your partner is feeling—what they like or dislike.
The Kamasutra chapter on biting says, "Biting with the teeth, like scratching with the nails, is a sign of possession." The book describes 10 different types of biting, including the Necklace of Dots, which is comprised of "numerous pointed marks made in the same area."
The Kamasutra also clarifies that biting can be done on almost any body part. My teachings on both the nipple-gasm and tantric breast massage include nipple-pinching as a technique for reaching orgasm. To roughen it up the Kamasutra way, try nibbling or biting instead of pinching. Be very careful to go slowly here. Let your partner know when it's too much. There's a very fine line between pleasure and pain.
Biting or pinching the nipple hard releases oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. In ancient tantric practices and in the Kamasutra, they focus on learning to balance between the two. If you lead someone to their threshold—or what they think is too much pain—right at that moment, if they take another breath, it's like hitting a wall just before you cross the finish line in a marathon. That's the moment someone can actually break through to the most intense orgasm ever.
The "Blows and Sighs" chapter of the Kamasutra describes four ways of hitting: "With the side of the hand, with the palm of the open hand, with the fist, and with the ends of the fingers joined."
It's usually best to stay away from hitting with a fist. Let's focus on the best way to spank instead! When you spank someone's ass, you're actually spanking what we call the lower chakras—where the sexual energy resides. It sort of lights them on fire, allowing the sensation to move through their whole spine, which feels like lightning.
When I went to India, I actually found very old texts that referred to spanking as a way to release or awaken your kundalini—which is sexual energy or chi. When you spank or smack, it sends that chi up the spine from the root chakra. This is another way to have whole body orgasms.