Yoga and Sex
Article by Liza Othman
Contrary to what many people believe, the Yogis are no more ascetics in the matter of sex than of food even though some of their elder sages do live on a lofty spiritual plane where all things of the flesh have ceased to matter. On the contrary, Yoga, being a philosophy singularly free of both Puritanism and hypocrisy, its disciples recognize the sex urge for the healthy instinct it is and would consider any attempt at its suppression profoundly unhealthy. Suppression and denial can lead only to physical upsets and mental harm. It is we Westerners who sometimes tend to look on sex as unclean. But the Yogis are steeped in the general Eastern attitude which is simply that sexual impulses, like any other natural urges, may be used to either good purpose or evil, depending on ourselves.
If sex is made synonymous with physical love - the carnal side of deep and genuine emotion - it becomes a supremely meaningful and beautiful expression of the man-woman relationship, the ultimate union. Debased, it debases and brings down the mis-user to animal level. The Hindu believe that woman is the complementary part of man, a gift from heaven, man's soul companion and helpmate, and that union must be not only mental and spiritual, but physical. Marriage is entered upon in an attitude of humility, with full recognition of its solemnity. In fact, one of the basic Hindu writings, the Kama Sutra, is an elaborate treatise on the philosophy and etiquette of love, courtship and sexual behavior, both male and female, detailed in a manner which our best modern manuals on marriage techniques do not begin to approach.
Hindu temples are often decorated with phallic representations which shock the Occidental traveler, but which to the worshippers have a deep spiritual significance. Because of this cultural attitude Oriental women share with their men an approach at the same time more natural and more sophisticated, quite unlike so many Western women who consider all sex relationships, including that with a husband, as slightly unclean if not indecent, a grim "duty" to be performed as the price of staying married. In this - unfortunately for ourselves and fortunately for the rest of the world - we are truly unique. For there is nothing unclean about sex except the mind of the man or woman who either is obsessed with it or cannot face it. What is perverted is the cultural aura handed down to us from repressed Victorian ancestors whose neurotic patterns have helped misshape some of our own.
The Yogis, who teach that man's supreme goal is Self-realization, understand that such realization cannot be wholly achieved except through union with woman, his other half. What one sex lacks the other provides. Rigid denial is merely a superficial form of escape which is self-defeating. To live fully, with understanding, each human being must know something of the innermost depths of the mind of the other sex. It is impossible to advance to complete understanding of Self, and of the world at large, while living in ignorance of the other half of mankind. Man and woman have been created for each other, not to exist in separate vacuums.
However, Self-realization may not be equated with self-indulgence. Therefore Yoga teaches that much of our sex drive must also be sublimated, that is, channeled into other life drives, creative or otherwise useful and always constructive. In this Yoga is not too different from the Freudian theory which claims that all man's urges, including the life urge itself, are based in the libido.
The very symbol of Kundalini, remember, is the serpent; and the serpent is one of the basic and universal symbols of male sexuality, not only in Freudian language but throughout mythology and folklore everywhere. Thus in Genesis, the serpent enters the Garden of Eden and prevails upon Eve to taste of the fruit of the Tree of Life so that she might have knowledge of good and evil. This, according to some authorities, symbolizes sex and the creative power wrongly used. It has also been pointed out that a close parallel exists between the Genesis legend and the sacred Hindu writings relating to Kundalini, for that too is generally described as "the slumbering serpent." Furthermore, when this serpent is awakened and used grossly merely to satisfy sheer animal desire - when it is directed downward to the lower physical centers - it brings knowledge of evil; directed upward toward the heart and head, it brings knowledge of good.
The Yogis themselves have learned how to transmute sex energy into psychic channels. Thus it is never either actually suppressed or dissipated but rather transmuted. Sometimes it is drawn to the solar plexus for utilizing in healthful physical exercise. Sometimes it is sent to the brain and toward the spirit. To the advanced Yogi it then brings poise, harmony, freedom from desire, lasting serenity, and finally a merging with the Universal Consciousness. To us average individuals, control over this basic inner force may well mean a happier personal life.
The man and woman doesn't exist whose personal life is not closely related to his sex life, be this good, indifferent or bad. The well-adjusted, well-functioning and sexually potent individual dreams of perpetuating this state of affairs indefinitely. The ineffectual man, the frigid woman, even if they may not realize it themselves, wish helplessly for a solution to their special problems, a solution that would bring them liberation.
Yoga offers many such solutions. In the first place, a number of the Yoga exercises help sublimate a restless sex urge while others awaken a sluggish body. Restlessness becomes positive, creative energy which may then be properly utilized instead of merely bringing trouble. Conversely, lack of interest in one's mate - and sometimes the free-floating hostility arising out of such feelings - slowly gives way to a warmer, more giving attitude.
About the Author: Liza Othman manages an ebook website at http://FunHowToBooks.com/. More about how yoga can help improve your health and life at http://Yoga.FunHowToBooks.com/
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