March 2nd, 2012

Yoga and sex

Do I have your attention? Good.

Most people have a squeaky-clean idea of yoga, but apparently it has more risque origins:

The wholesome image of yoga took a hit in the past few weeks as a rising star of the discipline came tumbling back to earth. After accusations of sexual impropriety with female students, John Friend, the founder of Anusara, one of the world’s fastest-growing styles, told followers that he was stepping down for an indefinite period of “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat.” …

But this is hardly the first time that yoga’s enlightened facade has been cracked by sexual scandal. Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?

One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult — an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.

Hatha yoga — the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe — began as a branch of Tantra. In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness.

The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex.

It goes on, but I’ll stop with the quotes at this point. Suffice to say that, if you read the entire article, you may just want to take a yoga class.

But the author fails to mention a very odd fact about yoga and sex that I read at least forty years ago, when I first perused Arthur Koestler’s book The Lotus and the Robot. In it, he describes an arcane traditional yoga practice performed by those who’ve reached the highest levels of the discipline (children, please leave the room now). I don’t know whether yoga still includes this rather unusual stunt (or whether it ever really did; perhaps it’s an apocryphal story). But it certainly made on impression on me when I first learned of it.

Let’s see; how can I put this delicately? Traditional Indian culture apparently featured a notion that the loss of seminal fluid would lead to a loss of strength in the man. So yoga practitioners supposedly developed a way to skillfully reverse this process at will, a kind of reclamation/recycling program that was way ahead of its time. Or any other time.

No, I’m not making this up, although perhaps Koestler was. Neither is it April Fools Day. But will you ever think of yoga in quite the same way again?

28 Responses to “Yoga and sex”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    “When she went down dog on me all I could do was moan.”

  2. vanderleun Says:

    “… yoga practitioners supposedly developed a way to skillfully reverse this process at will, a kind of reclamation/recycling program that was way ahead of its time. ”

    Huh? What? Is this some kind of siphon deal? And if so, what do they use as a hose?

  3. Don Carlos Says:

    Physiologic and neuroanatomic absurdity. AK either made it up or bought into the irrational idea.

    Reminds me of my high school locker room days, with everyone understanding that sex the night before a game would surely reduce athletic prowess.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: whether they could actually successfully perform the feat was not what Koestler was alleging, as I recall. I might try to look it up a bit later when I have time. But to the best of my recollection he was saying that was the ultimate goal of certain practitioners of yoga at the highest levels. They were alleging a few people could perform the feat; I don’t recall that he was saying they actually did.

  5. vanderleun Says:

    So it was about a hose, right?

  6. Curtis Says:

    A hose by any other name would smell as sweet.

  7. George Pal Says:

    vanderleun Says:

    “When she went down dog on me all I could do was moan.”

    If you moan instead of ohm, are you doing it right?

  8. blert Says:

    Ohm implies resistance…

    Moan implies no resistance.

  9. Don Carlos Says:

    Neo-
    So it was an excuse used by certain practitioners of sex by yoga in order to get better at it?
    Kinda reminds me of some phallic characters in Terry Southern’s “Candy”.

  10. Simon Kenton Says:

    Well, you’re so oblique here I don’t know what you allude to, but it is certainly possible for a male to climax without ejaculation. The practice is suggested in order to conserve “life energy.” Any male interested can do the equivalent of kegel exercises – pubococcygeal contractions – 50 or 100 times a day for a couple weeks, and achieve the ability. I have met one practitioner who felt that his youthful looks were attributable to his practice. It seemed to me they were more to be ascribed to his hair dye and make-up. I have mastered the practice, but on reflection think that rather than redirect semen inward or retain it, I’ll just get old.

    There is another Red Tantra practice in which the aged yogi surreptitiously approaches a vital youth and draws off some of the youth’s ‘life energy,” without the youth consenting, knowing it has happened, or presumably being much damaged by this energetic parasitism.

    Let me urge you to be a bit less coy and say just what you/Koestler are talking about here.

  11. Mac Says:

    I have a feeling I know what she’s referring to. However, it’s so weird that I’m reluctant to say it.

  12. GoneWithTheWind Says:

    I knew it when I first saw the down dog…

  13. CV Says:

    Well, that explains a lot about Sting and Trudie Styler:

    http://www.nerve.com/news/love-sex/stings-wife-clears-up-that-whole-tantric-sex-thing-while-doing-yoga

  14. pst314 Says:

    Loss of essence, hey? So yoga was invented by General Jack Ripper. That explains a lot about its practitioners. :-D

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    Simon Kenton: you asked for it, then.

    After ejaculation, reversing the ordinary direction of the flow of semen and taking it back up from whence it came, by the power of incredible muscular control of the organ involved, including of course its inner structure.

    How’s that?

  16. LabRat Says:

    Not apocryphal, and not mystical, mechanical. The phrase you want to google is “injaculation”. First encountered the concept reading a panicked teenager’s letter to some Dr. Drew/Dr. Ruth type figure who’d done it accidentally, later found the tantric folks are apparently attached.

    It doesn’t go back whence it came, either.

  17. Don Carlos Says:

    Are those your words, Neo? “From whence it came?” That is not possible-can’t return prostatic fluid into the prostate regardless of the incredibility of control. That would be akin to returning milk into the breast.
    It is retrograde ejaculation that is the true topic at hand, with the ejaculate going upstream into the bladder, regardless of Simon’s mastery. And it is ill-advised to consider this mastery as conception-proof.

  18. Simon Kenton Says:

    Don Carlos, I know of one fairly obnoxious teenage boy who somehow overcrowed his father’s mastery of the technique. (Not one of mine, either; I never thought of this technique as conception-proof, and as I said, also don’t think much of it from the ostensible-rejuvenation perspective. Rather just get old and die ejaculating as intemperately as I can than run around with a belly full of semen hoping to resemble an actor trying out for Death in Venice.)

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: I’d have to get hold of a copy of Koestler’s book to see if it described in exact detail where the fluid supposedly ended up. When I wrote “from whence it came” I wasn’t thinking of the ultimate origins, but of the proximate origins.

  20. Parker Says:

    I have refrained from commenting on this topic BUT can no longer resist…

    Sheesh, this is so 1967 summer of love crap. Before I met my true love I was embarrassingly promiscuous. This concept of male orgasim without ejaculation was all the rage within a certain segment of hippy chicks. It was then, was 2,000 years ago, and is today utter BS. AND as a farm boy I’ve seen plenty of what comes out of the south bound end of a north bound bull.

  21. Don Carlos Says:

    Brings to mind a friend who, marvelling that his 80 year-old uncle was still doing it, did a back-of-envelope calculation and concluded Unc’s lifetime ejaculate had likely equalled his body weight.
    Sorry to be raunchy, Neo, but you did start us down this path!

  22. RandomThoughts Says:

    Vanderleun, you just made me spit cabernet on my monitor. And it was a good cab too, dang it.

    All I know is, I’m never going to have the same opinion of yoga after this enlightening discussion…and I don’t mean that in a “Ooh, how interesting! way.

  23. texexec Says:

    This article and the one below it (especially her picture) about Sharon Simmons, the 55 year old grandmother who is trying out for the Dallas cheerleaders have gotten me excited about signing up for a yoga class.

  24. Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove Says:

    [...] neo-neocon should apologize for discussing yoga and sex [...]

  25. F Says:

    I remember discussing this practice in high school. I think the folks who tried it were called “parents”.

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    This isn’t all that surprising to me.

    The Chinese 4000 years ago were essentially kind of obsessed about jing or life essence, for immortality or long life. The Indians got the same goal, but a little bit different in their methods.

    Jing, in Western parlance, is hormones. If you have a balanced and healthy hormonal level, testosterone for males and estrogen for females, you will live a long time. Just because your body can maintain itself for longer if the hormone levels are present. Women know that certain bone issues come up if they stop the estrogen production. Artificial human hormone regeneration or supplements, thus allows older people to live longer.

    So semen was often seen as the direct manifestation, but it was only an indirect manifestation. It takes energy to replenish the sperm stores, but for a young male with a high levels of testosterone, that’s not really a problem .Just drink your vitamins and eat protein, it’s similar to losing blood. Of course, it’s also why religious orders had vows of celibacy. Not having sex meant that energy would go somewhere else. If a person had a high level of concentration, he could even become enlightened by living in a cave, meditation while sleeping, and not having sex. But not usually a life style most people would prefer, of course. And that kind of enlightenment, religious attainment of complete understanding of the universe via opening the third eye, cannot be explained in words or anything else for that matter. Only the person that has it, knows it. Nobody else can even benefit from such. And I’m not being facetious, that kind of path to enlightenment is real. And no, Ghandhi wasn’t it. Think back to all those saints Christianity had instead. There are other ways to achieve enlightenment. Miyamoto Musashi achieved it by facing death countless times, and learning how to live. One feels very alive after escaping death. That, strangely enough, gives a person new perspective on life, and aids them on the road to enlightenment (true understanding of reality).

    To get back to Indian Yoga practices and various issues like that: the basic metaphysics of China would be Taoism. The conception of yin and yang. In Western parlance, this means spiral power, the combination of the straight line (yang) and the circular tangent (yin). Yin is considered indirect and mental in origin, whereas yang is physical and action orientated. Thus yin is considered female and yang, male. The spiral then is the two mixing together. But to fully visualize this, simply think of a DNA strand. That is a spiral. A black hole is a spiral. A tornado, the one in Kansas even, is a spiral. Hot and cold. Yin and yang, whenever two of these forces meet, you get power. Life power. Destructive power. Now you can clearly visualize, a little bit, of how “religion” plays a part in this.

    So a lot of Ancient Indian and Chinese methods were to either get life essence back or make more of it or drink more of it. They didn’t know what it was, because they couldn’t study the human anatomy like Western medicine can. But at the same time, Chinese and Indian medicine is far more advanced, given that they had 4000 years to experiment on humans without any FDA approval.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    Yoga developed the metaphysics of Taoism (they didn’t call it that) into sexual rituals combining male and female. Whereas the Chinese developed it into a fighting style designed for warfare and battlefield applications (Taiji Chuan: Grand Ultimate Fist).

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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