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A Beginner’s Guide to the Kama Sutra

By Regina Boyle Wheeler Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH 

If you want to turn up the heat on your sex life, give the missionary position the night off and experiment with new sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, the ageless text considered the bible of better sex for lovers all over the world. 

The Kama Sutra, or the “Rules of Love,” is a 2,000-year-old book written by an Indian Hindu scholar. “This ancient Eastern approach to love has proven itself a timeless love manual and a guide to relationships on how to create harmony, pleasuring, and happiness between the sexes,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, MSEd, a nationally known sex therapist and author of several books on sexuality, including Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce any Lover.

Although the Kama Sutra is famous for its description of dozens of sexual positions for better sex, Fulbright says the book goes much deeper than that. “Its universal, timeless message is its presentation of sex as sacred, a gift from God (or a higher power), essential to life and worthy of study,” she says.

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The Kama Sutra was written in Sanskrit, the ancient literary language of India, and was translated into English in 1883. In the Victorian era, it was seen as erotica and secretly circulated among wealthy Europeans and Americans. One of the latest translations, The Complete Kama Sutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text by Alain Danielou was released in the 1990s and is available online or in bookstores.

Kama Sutra Sexual Positions for Better Sex

You may think you need to be double-jointed or a contortionist to attempt any of the sexual positions from the Kama Sutra, but that’s not necessary. Some are more difficult than others and may require some practice. Fulbright describes some popular Kama Sutra positions and why you should give them a try:


  • Piditaka (Full-pressed): “The woman should get onto her back and pull her knees into her chest, resting her feet on the man’s chest as he kneels in front of her. Putting a cushion under her lower back will elevate her, providing more stimulation,” Fulbright says. “With his knees on either side of her hips, she fits snugly into his lap as he kneels before her and raises her hips onto his thighs. As he enters her, he’ll notice a tighter fit since her vagina is narrowed during this position.”
  • Sthitarata (Suspended union): This is a standing sexual position and you will both need some strength. “Supporting himself against a wall, the man lifts his lover onto his penis by locking his hands beneath her buttocks. Once in position, she grips him with her thigh muscles, legs wrapped around his waist and arms around his waist,” Fulbright says. She adds that it can be done more easily with his pelvis pushed out, forming a ledge for her to sit atop. She can rock against him, bracing herself better by putting her feet against a wall. Fulbright adds that this sexual position is great for short lovemaking sessions, but can be difficult to maintain for a long time.

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  • Jrimbhitaka (Yawning posture): “While on her back, the woman spreads her legs wide into a V-shape. With his knees on either side of her hips, he kneels, grabbing her hands to support some of his weight as he thrusts. She also gets the titillation of being pinned down,” says Fulbright.
  • Dhenuka II (Cow-like): This sexual position is most easily attempted from the classic rear position, says Fulbright: “The woman lies on her stomach, legs straight and slightly spread. (Placing a pillow under her pelvis before she moves onto her belly will prevent him from slipping out.) He then stretches himself over her figure, placing his legs outside of hers and pressing his pelvis up against her buttocks. Once he has penetrated her, she can squeeze her legs around his penis, while he angles himself to thrust with an arch in his back. With her position limited, they can rock back and forth.”
  • Shulachitak (Fixing a nail): You may have to work on your flexibility for this sexual position. Fulbright describes it this way: “Once she is lying on her back, her lover takes one leg up and moves her into a split, stretching her leg up vertically. As he kneels around her pelvis, he rests her foot against his forehead and begins to penetrate. She then alternates legs, placing her foot against his forehead and placing the first leg flat, and then repeating. This changes the angle of each thrust, with her lover’s chest against the back of her thigh moving her up and down.”

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Other Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life

Trying new sexual positions is one way of creating better sex for you and your partner. Fulbright also suggests trying new ideas outside of the bedroom as well. Fun activities — such as taking a champagne-tasting class together, making sushi for dinner one night, or giving your partner a nice foot bath — promote bonding and cultivate the feeling of being desired, she says. “It’s ultimately this ego stroke that makes people interested in sex — you think ‘somebody wants me, I’m sexy, and I love this feeling of being desired!’”