Want a lustful leg up when it comes to your sex life? If you’re looking to go beyond doggy style or reverse cowgirl and get a little, well, intricate, there’s nowhere better to go than to that ancient tome of high pleasure sex positions wisdom, the Kama Sutra.
Yes, those seeking new sex positions will be thrilled to know that there are actually a whopping 64 different options, all outlined in the section of the Kama Sutra that talks about your sexual life.
For millennia, human beings have explored sexual pleasure and the intimate positions that best lead to both physical as well as emotional, and even spiritual closeness. This is part of that, and can definitely help to light you and your partner up.
What is the Kama Sutra?
According to Aryelle Siclait, Korin Miller and Lexi Inks of Women’s Health, “The Kama Sutra, written by Indian philosopher Vatsyayana, has garnered a lot of attention for acting as a guidebook to what seems like every sex position ever—but the ancient Sanskrit text is so much more than a reference book for intricate genital gymnastics.”
Yes, perhaps unsurprisingly, what those of us in the west know of the Kama Sutra is, well, limited and inaccurate. In fact, according to Harvard assistant professor Durba Mitra, PhD, “‘The original set of texts that became known as Kama Sutra ‘were actually about everything from urban living to statecraft, from perfumes to gardens.’”
Yup, you heard that right — the Kama Sutra was way more than just a book about clitoral stimulation or tantric sex. “The ‘distortion’ of the book happened in part because the first edition of Kama Sutra in English was done by colonial enthusiast—and Orientalist—Richard Burton in the late nineteenth century,” Mitra says. “[H]e wanted to create a fantasy for his English-speaking audience by portraying people of the East as hypersexual and unchanging, without history. Unfortunately, people still use these reductive, racist ideas to think about Indian sexuality in the past and present.”
Mitra, also the author of Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought, sums it up by saying: “‘The Kama Sutra has been quite distorted in how it has circulated in translation in the U.S. and other parts of the western world. Kama Sutra is a book of philosophy on ethics and aesthetics, never just an ancient text on sexual positions and sexual pleasure.’”
Another interesting thing to note is that the Kama Sutra is kinda heteronormative; the Kama Sutra positions all involve vaginal penetration between a female partner and male partner. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do the positions with lots of other sexy variations - strap-on, anyone? All are welcome in the world of sexy time, y’all!
Relatedly, anal sex isn’t really discussed much in the Kama Sutra, nor is any oral sex position where one is going down on a woman. In fact, the Kama Sutra doesn’t actually endorse oral sex for man/woman pairs; it says that act is only for a “corrupt woman” (i.e. promiscuous), lesbians, servants, or sanvahika (a woman who does very hard work).
The text actually says that “one is defiled by the contact of the sex with the face” and that “embracing the vulva as one embraces the mouth is not recommended.” However, these limitations don’t prevent the collection of texts from outlining a few good ways of giving a blow job (kneeling position, anyone?).
So, like many things in life (and history),, the Kama Sutra is not perfect, nor comprehensive. But it is still a great source of sexy positions that can bring you closer to your lover(s)
The Kama Sutra and Sex Positions
Fun fact: The Kama Sutra was one of the first erotic texts of its ilk. According to Ruth Vanita, PhD, professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Montana, “Kama means desire, and Kama Deva is the god of love and desire. The Kama Sutra is a 4th century Hindu text written in Sanskrit. It is the first erotic treatise in the world … It gives advice to people on how to enjoy the pleasures of life, including sex.”
Adds certified sex coach Gigi Engle, “the Kama Sutra does address sex positions, but it’s really only in one section.” That said, Vanita states that the Kama Sutra gives a whole lotta detail when it comes to those sexual tips: “It describes different types of kisses, love bites, scratches, etc. and catalogues 64 heterosexual positions for sexual intercourse.”
7 best sex positions from the Kama Sutra
So let’s get to it! Yes, the Kama Sutra does cover philosophy and ethics (also flower arranging), but it also has a whole bunch of stuff about G spot stimulation, great positions for intercourse, and how eye contact can lead to even more mind-blowing connection between partners … not to mention orgasms, amirit?
Some of these may be familiar, but some of these are sure to be new positions that will capture your imagination. ;)
1. Blossoming (utphallaka)
One of the cool things about the Kama Sutra is the way it covers relative penis size and vagina size. The text states that penises and vaginas come in three varieties: a penis can be a stallion, a bull, or a hare; and a vagina can be a cow-elephant (because who doesn’t want their pussy to be a cow-elephant), a doe, or a mare.
The point of this is, in part, to talk about fit. Basically, if a penis or penetrative adult sex toys and a vagina are not matched up in terms of size, there are different sex positions that can help with that. In this case, the Blossoming position is meant to help a smaller vagina open up to a bigger cock.
“The blossoming is realized by lowering the woman’s head and raising her vagina,” says the text, which basically means a sexual position that’s sort of like missionary, but the woman is, in essence, in a kind of Pilates bridge. The man is sitting up on his knees.
It turns out that lifting your vulva up over your head isn’t just great for strengthening your abs. This one can feel really good when trying to take even more of that cock or strap-on in, if that’s what you’re into.
2. Envelopment (veshititaka)
And now we’re on to another discussion of size: this sexual position helps a more petite penis or penetrator and a roomier vagina experience lots of pleasure when paired together. Here, both partners are standing up against a wall. The receiving partner has her back against a wall, and crosses her legs while penetration happens.
“Another fun tidbit?” says sex writer Lux Alptraub of Refinery29, “Midway through its section on cow-elephant vaginas matched with hare penises, the Kama Sutra takes a minute to inform the reader that ‘in sleeping, the man must lie to the right of the woman: She should always be on the man’s left.’ If this seems like an odd digression, the commentary explains that this is ‘in order not to cause difficulties if [the man] seeks [the woman] while asleep,’ though how any of that makes sense I leave to you to figure out.”
3. The Amazon position
This is the best sex position if you’re wanting to play with control dynamics and putting the receiving partner in charge (in this case, we’ll use a woman as the example, though you can definitely do most of these with any kind of penetration situation).
So for this, the penis-haver or strap-on wearer lies on their back, pulling their knees all the way into their chest. Then, they push their cock between their legs so it’s underneath both partners. She squats over them, rocking back and forth.
What’s amazing about this is that the rider feels powerful. It might sound like a weird position but trust us -- you’ve got to try it. One participant even said that if you’re a woman, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to feeling like a guy during sex (outside of using a strap-on).
4. Lotus (padmasana)
This is a super intimate and romantic position that allows for lots of eye contact. One person sits cross-legged, and the other straddles them. You can each drape yourself over your partner’s shoulders or hold one another by the neck. Extra bonus points if you synchronize your breathing. Because the legs of the person being penetrated are spread pretty wide here, it’s also a way of feeling particularly open and connected.
5. The Plough
Ever heard of the wheelbarrow? That’s where the penetrating partner holds the legs of their counterpart like a wheelbarrow while the receiver faces down, holding themselves up with their arms. The truth is it feels cool but can be really tiring.
The Plough is an alternative that’s got all the fun without so much of the discomfort. Added bonus: If you’ve got a vagina, the way your leg muscles tense in this position actually tightens up that vaginal canal, which can feel amazing to whoever’s penetrating you. Plus, when you reach the big O in this position, your muscles contract even more tightly, enhancing your sensations.
So how do you do it? If you’re the receiving partner, you lie down on the bed, waist-up on the bed, and legs off and out behind. You then lift yourself up onto your elbows, so you’re up a bit higher and your face is more comfortable. Your partner gets between your legs (heyyyy), and supports your lower half by your thighs.
A fun sex toy to add to the mix here is nipple clamps or nipple suckers. According to sex expert Ness Cooper, “Nipple clamps or suckers are a win for the Plough sex position in particular, as the position allows you to tug and pull on them when they’re attached to your partner. These underrated devices add a lot to sex and foreplay and also help the production of feel-good hormones that can make sex feel better and more connected.”
6. The Rider
This is, in essence, woman-on-top, but with the added flexibility of lying down flat, so your chests meet. This is a surprisingly intimate variation of this favorite, and it’s also a super fun place to add in a vibrating cock ring. Because the woman is on top, she can angle herself exactly right to get all that sweet clitoral stimulation. And if you’re particularly well-endowed, it can be kind of nice to be able to go at it without your girls jiggling so much.
7. The Curled Angel
This is one you probably already do, but it’s got a cooler name. Otherwise known as the spooning position, it’s great if you’re both feeling a bit lazy. This is nice for middle-of-the-night sex, or hazy morning sex when you’re both still waking up. Basically, the partner being penetrated is the little spoon, and the big spoon is hopefully providing lots of nice neck nuzzling along with, ahem, insertion.
A good addition to the mix here is lube. Sometimes when you’re still waking up it takes longer for that natural lubricant to get where it needs to be, if you know what we’re saying. There are also warming lubes that can be really sweet on cold days.
The value of different positions
It’s helpful to remember that taking different sex positions is exciting for more than just the physical reasons. It’s also fun to try new things together, boosting your intimacy and exploring the realms of deep penetration. Of course sometimes it can also be fun to have your partner kneel and worship you in other ways, too. ;)
Seriously, though, sex experts and relationship therapists agree that novelty is important, and trying out new sex positions can bring you closer together even if the position itself doesn’t “work out.” It doesn’t matter whether it’s a perfect position; sexual satisfaction is about more than just the big O. It’s also about feeling more connected to your partner, expressed in your sexuality, and relaxed in your own skin.