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Say Yes to Touch! By Carolynn Aristone

In her book, The Pleasures and Principles of Partner Yoga, Elysabeth Williamson, author and yoga teacher, wrote, "Touch is as vital to our survival as air, food and water". Touch allows us to communicate and connect, to listen and express, to give and receive.
A lack of touch can have a strong impact on your well-being. Many couples who dislike being in a sexless relationship often admit that they barely touch each other, at most, a daily peck on the cheek or a quick hug.
There are various reasons why touch can take the back seat in a relationship. Dr. Patti Britton, author of The Art of Sex Coaching, lists some of the following reasons:
1) Couples have become too familiar - "He's like my best friend".
2) Couples have stopped all touch - With more focus on daily responsibilities, careers and children, couples lose their touch habits.
3) One partner fears intention behind the touch - For some couples, touch is misunderstood. One partner sends out a touch that signals affection, the receiving partner interprets this touch as sexual pressure.
4) Couples lack passionate touch - Couples prefer affectionate touch over steamy touch.
5) History of abuse - Touch aversion can be a symptom of previous physical/sexual abuse or rejection.
Whether you are single or partnered, you can find ways to invite more loving touch into your life. Touch can help you nourish your soul, relax your mind and body and remind you of your own softness.
If you currently enjoy single life, a wonderful way to increase touch is to schedule a massage session (or several!), a hands-on relaxing yoga class or sensual self-massage (with your favorite bath oils and lotions, of course). Being single DOES NOT mean that you cannot cultivate the gift of touch!
For couples, use The Touch Continuum, created by Dr. Patti Britton to re-introduce touch into your relationship. This 5 level spectrum can help you understand the various forms of touch that you may experience. These include:
Level 1 - Healing Touch Level 2 - Affectionate Touch Level 3 - Sensual Touch Level 4 - Erotic Touch Level 5 - Sexual Touch
Take time to talk with your partner about how you define each level since you may define these differently. Through discussion and practice, you can reduce misunderstanding and learn how to communicate your needs and desires to your partner.
To jump start your practice, Dr. Britton suggests the following exercise, which I recommend to be done as a single individual (if you are not partnered, offer yourself the gift of sensual love) or, partnered.
The Hand Caress Exercise: In silence, for 10-20 minutes, take turns and each of you give the other a sensual hand caress with lotions, oils or warm liquids. Begin by soaking your partners hand. Then rub, press and gently pull the hand while silently expressing your intentions of love and care. Ground yourself in your own heart as you freely give loving caresses to your partner's hands. Receiving Partner: take note as to whether you fully allow yourself to receive this loving touch. As a baby opens their mouth for food, practice opening your own heart to receive this love and care. Stay present!
Use this exercise to gently awaken the senses in a non-threatening manner. You may feel aroused during the exercise. Simply notice, without any expectations other than the exercise. Share your experience with your loved one.
This article has been paraphrased from Dr. Patti Britton's Book, The Art of Sex Coaching, (2005), Published by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Carolynn Aristone, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and a psychotherapist. She is the Executive Director and Owner of LIVE FULLY Counseling located in Cherry Hill, NJ. As a Gestalt therapist and a Svaroopa Yoga Foundations Teacher, Carolynn helps individuals and couples create intimate connections and improved relationships - physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually. For more information, please call 856.577.5515 or visit the website at livefullycounseling livefullycounseling
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