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Your day began at 6 a.m. and you haven't stopped running since then. In fact, the past week has been a treadmill of activity, from grocery shopping, to meetings at work, to drinks with friends, and dinner with family. It's Friday night, and you're beat. But if you could just muster the right mood, you'd be up for a little frolic under the sheets before pulling up the covers. Here are six tricks that can help spark your flame.1. De-compress and de-stress.
Residual stress from the week can hold you back from fully enjoying yourself. To release the tension and prepare for pleasure, take a few minutes to just breathe. Take a seat in your favorite chair, and rest both feet lightly on the ground. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. "To breathe properly, when you inhale, your abdomen should protrude, not your chest. When you exhale, your abdomen should flatten," explains Cynthia Perkins, author of Smoldering Embers: Hot Erotic Stories and Sex Tips to Light a Couple's Fire (Writers Club Press, 2003). "Focus your mind completely on your breath," Perkins says. "This will calm and soothe the body, mind, and spirit."2. Dress for sex.
Lingerie stores exist for a reason. Sexy lingerie can quickly and easily get you out of work mode, mom mode, or just-plain-tired mode and right into sex-kitten mode. "With the busy, fast-paced life most women live and the many roles they play, sexual identity often gets lost in the shuffle," Perkins says. Besides slipping into something more comfortable, Perkins suggests slipping out of something, too. "You can also feel incredibly sexy by going without your bra or underwear throughout your day," she says.3. Practice makes perfect.
Kegel exercises are tricky to master, but they're worth the effort. By strengthening the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle that supports the vagina (among other areas), you can heighten your sexual pleasure. The standard way to find the PC muscle is by stopping the urine flow when you're going to the bathroom. To practice, tighten the muscle at any time during the day and hold for about five seconds. Try to work it up to 20 minutes a day.
Maybe it was actually yoga that Madonna was referring to in her song. After all, yoga can have some pretty potent sex-enhancing benefits and Madonna was no "virgin." For example, the simple mountain pose can boost overall self-confidence, which will translate into greater confidence in bed. "A woman can stand up tall, inhabit her own skin, and be proud of who she is, then go share that with her partner," says Jean Peplinski, a registered yoga instructor at Jean'-s Yoga in Michigan. Roughly, the technique entails standing with big toes touching slightly, heels slightly apart. Imagine a line of energy from your inner thighs through your groin, up your torso and out your head. Press your shoulder blades into your back and down. Lift your sternum, and balance the crown of your head over your pelvis, with your chin parallel to the floor. Remain in the pose for about a minute, focusing all the while on inhaling and exhaling in a comfortable manner.5. Feed the urge.
Although there's scant scientific data connecting certain foods to increased sexual desire, there's certainly anecdotal evidence that shows some foods can be arousing, sensual, and fun. "It really boils down to the two people involved and their chemistry and passion for each other," says Patricia Vasconcellos, a registered dietitian in Boston. "Food will be a tantalizing tease or twist," Vasconcellos adds. She suggests some old standbys: strawberries, grapes, oysters, or chocolate.6. Remember the classics.
Never underestimate the power of a little mood lighting, soft music, and the color red. "Red is the color of love," says Hannelore Leavy, director of the Day Spa Association. "It's a stimulant and can bring up pleasant memories and get you excited," she says.
Originally published on LHJ.com, March 2005.