Naughty Desire and the Kama Sutra

Queer Yoga? Circa 1780The Kama Sutra.

Heard of it?

It’s the naughty book from ancient India with all of the sexual positions for hetero folks. (And I’m fairly sure there is a lesbian Kama Sutra, too. Although it’s not quite as old…)

Now before you get all hot under the collar, this is not going to be an article about elaborate sexual yoga pretzels from the East. I know, I know. I’m a party pooper.

But hold tight.

If you’ve read my articles before, you know that I am a certified Yoga geek. And part of my continued professional certification in yoga geekdom requires me to blab on about the misconceptions of Yoga. So I’m going to do that, but there is a cherry at the end for you, I promise!

First things first.

Kama. Sutra.

What do these words actually mean? Well ‘Sutra’ simply refers to the type of text. Like an essay or a novel or a poem or a stanza, ‘sutra’ refers simply to the type of writing. (So unless you’re a rockin’ hot librarian, this part of the title isn’t all that sexy.)

Kama (pronounced Kah-ma) on the other hand, is a little warmer. One of the definitions of Kama is ‘desire’, or more specifically, ‘sensual desire’.

The teachings of the Kama Sutra are about enjoying life, and indulging in all of life’s sensual pleasures which include (but aren’t limited to) sex and sexual desire.

Appreciating art, eating fantastic food, smelling coffee or fresh chocolate cake, holding a sleeping baby. As humans, we desire these sorts of things on a sensual level. The first chapter of the Kama Sutra teaches us that in fact these sorts of pleasures—these sensual desires—are an essential part of living a full life.

So here is where it gets interesting for non-yoga folk.

Most of the world’s big religions frown on desire. Wanting things, craving things, obtaining and delighting in things is a no-no. Sensual pleasure = bad. Sex for yumminess rather than babyness = bad. Lust = bad. I could go on, but you get the idea.

But not Yoga. At least, not in the super old yoga teachings. The oldest yogic texts, the Vedas, talk about the Purusarithas, the fundamental elements to living a good (i.e. God-endorsed) human life. And guess what? Kama is on that list.

Huh? What?

Religion telling us that desire is not only OK, but that we should have it in our lives to be complete?

Yes, ladies and gents, yoga is not only good for tight fitting pants. It also instructs us to enjoy checking out the contours of such pants, or whatever other thing we may find desirable.

And now the caveat (which you were expecting, right?)

Yoga also teaches us that fulfillment of desire does not alleviate desire. I want the cookie. I eat the cookie. I still want the cookie. Or diesel dyke, hot boi, whatever.

Liberation comes from understanding that desire is a part of being human. Fulfilling desire can feel fantastic. Can lead to peak experiences. Can make us feel pleasure, feel alive…

And once the fizzle is gone will still desire more.

And this is also a normal part of being human.

In relationship, understanding this can lead to greater self-awareness and therefore closer and more authentic connections with others. Whether we get what we desire or not, we are going to continue to have desire (even if that means we choose something else to focus on).

So, go ahead. Desire. Delight in it. Seek it out. It’s good for you. But don’t expect it to leave you fulfilled. That’s your job.

About Amy McDonald

Amy is a writer, wellness coach, yoga teacher and the Founder of The Happy Healthy Lesbian .com.

Amy works with queer women to help them identify their wellness goals and ambitions, and then to map out the route to achieve those goals. A 20-something year student of Yoga, Amy draws on these ancient teachings as well as her training in coaching, wellness and nutrition to guide, encourage and inspire queer women to live happy and healthy lives.

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