Humans were built for sensuality. It’s why we have our five senses. We have one thousand nerve receptors for every square inch of skin. It shows we need to be touched.
Sensuality – full engagement of your senses – is the key to life’s greatest enjoyment, says Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach Medical Director Karen Koffler, M.D. “Sexuality is a part of that experience, and sensuality precedes sexuality. We need it to be healthy, in mind and spirit.”
Raise your hand if you don’t enjoy a shoulder-rub. Life is richer when you engage your senses. And the good news is that it can be partner-independent. From young children to happily single people and couples, sensuality is part of life – but, says Dr. Koffler, “It’s an increasingly lost art. We don’t have time. We work, do laundry, and eat on the run. We need to re-engage with our senses.”
When did you last eat a meal with full attention, gusto and appreciation? Revel in your food. Savor the aromas. Linger over the spicy, creamy or tangy tastes. Truly listen to and appreciate your friends, partner or children as you relax together over your meal. And yes, it’s true, any food with a wow factor can have an aphrodisiac effect, from the special meal your partner prepares to the delicious taste and sensation of rich, dark chocolate on your tongue.
Invite your senses in
Tastes, sights, sounds, touch – and especially smells – are wellsprings of mood and well-being, says Dr. Koffler. “Remember the old saying: ‘If you want to sell a house, bake fresh bread.’ Just a molecule of scent can elicit a memory or evoke a mood.”
Add rainbows to routine habits and relationships by enhancing sensuality, she says. “Find what speaks to you most, and give it your attention, even once a week; you’ll feel a little bit more alive.” Why let dull be an option? Listen to music when you get up in the morning. When you drive, notice the sky, the cloud patterns, the sun on the leaves. Sing – no one’s listening.
Keep relationships fresh
Make time to get physical. Jobs, children, bills and chores will always be there – so adjust the recipe and stir in some togetherness. Make sensuality part of your day. Sit outside to eat breakfast with your partner. Watch the dawn together and listen to the birds sing. Find other new ways to connect. Enjoy some live music, dance or make a meal together. Get frisky!
How do you get excited by someone you’ve spent years with? Look at your partner with different eyes, says Dr. Koffler. “We usually don’t know ourselves well – chances are you don’t know your partner as well as you might.” Ask how he or she feels about something you thought you knew – you may end up appreciating each other in new ways. Do you know each other’s fantasies? It's possible you share one – it’s fun finding out.
Is sex good for your health?
Sex is definitely good for your health, but don’t count on it for physical fitness. As a workout, it may be a lightweight option compared to a visit to the gym, or 18 holes of golf, says Dr. Koffler. “But people who have a satisfying sex life have an overall greater satisfaction with life. It comes back to that wholeness of mind, body and spirit.”
If one partner is not interested in sex, or is having physical difficulty, professional help is indicated, she says. “A lot of things that people are living with are medically addressable. People often hesitate to ask about it. Just bite the bullet and get over the discomfort. You’ll be glad you did.”
Transform your bedroom into a warmer, more seductive space. Now explore the possibilities. Sex is just one way of connecting physically; give your partner a foot or back massage, without pressure or time constraints. “You don’t need to have sex to enjoy your sexuality. Anything physical falls into that domain, including cuddling and kissing” (and we all know where that can lead).
When life gets burdensome and time is in short supply, it’s easy to take yourself too seriously, says Dr. Koffler. “Lighten up. Allow yourself to be in the moment. Relax and enjoy. The human blueprint includes enjoyment – it’s what we’re designed for.”
What you eat can have a direct impact on your sex life.
It’s not a myth:
Certain foods really can affect your hormones, brain chemistry and mood, says Larisa Alonso, nutritionist at Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach.
“What you eat can have a direct impact on your sex life,” she says.“Eating foods you find sensual releases the hormone oxytocin, creating a link between food and desire, or feeling good.” In other words, food can put you in the mood.
Some foods contain nutrients that may enhance sensuality, desire or asense of well-being. Awaken your senses and rekindle the spark with some of these succulent morsels of sensory potential:
Dark Chocolate The food of the gods. What could be more sensual than rolling rich, luscious dark chocolate around your tongue? Just unwrapping the shiny silver paper and smelling that sweet, delectable aroma stirs your senses. Chocolate contains the feel-good chemical PEA, or phenylethylamine. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants and fewer carbs than milk chocolate, so indulge your senses and savor the flavor.
Oysters It’s true what they say about oysters. Feast on a plateful with your significant other, light a candle and open a bottle of wine; then leave the rest to the oysters. (They contain zinc – essential for vaginal lubrication and may increase testosterone levels.)
Truffles As in the underground mushrooms that pigs dig up (though the decadent chocolate variety offers its own unique delights – see above). Truffles contain adrostenone – a pheromone that may enhance nonverbal sensual communication. White truffles top the list of the world’s most expensive and delicious foods; how much more loved and special could you feel?
Strawberries A feast for your senses. Rounded, glowing red, soft, sweet, juicy and fragrant. The scent alone can make your mouth water. They’re bursting with vitamins and minerals and 18 amino acids, including the mood enhancers tryptophan and phenylalanine – and they taste great dipped in chocolate!
Hot Stuff Spice up your life and set your body all a-tingle. Ginger, cayenne pepper and other spices can stimulate nerve endings and improve circulation. And, let’s be honest; sharing a spicy meal beats bland anytime as a prelude to something even spicier …
Figs Cleopatra’s favorite fruit, associated with love and fertility. Relax on your comfiest couch or silky sheets and feed each other these delicious, sensual fruits. They contain nutrients that can enhance your sense of well-being. They’re also a good source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure – and things are sure to warm up. Who knows – maybe it’s the secret of Cleopatra’s legendary love life?