The Taoist Sexual Practices — also called Fangzhongshu or the “Arts of the Bedchamber” — are ancient Chinese Taoist directives on practicing sexual activity. Historically, the roots of Taoism can be traced back to the 4th century BC and the techniques concerning sexual practices evolved gradually in the next 1,500 years, spanning various Chinese imperial dynasties.
The Fangzhongshu techniques deal for the most part with sexual skills, methods and techniques with regard to intercourse between men and women. The basic concepts cover sexual harmony and how to reach it, attention for flirting and foreplay before sex, and artistic ability in sexual behavior. In fact, the Fangzhongshu has a lot in common with the well-known ancient Indian Kama Sutra texts.
It also contains many directives and techniques for treatments that increase sexual energy, or cure erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, anejaculation, and other kinds of sexual dysfunction or disorders. That is, the Fangzhongshu describes a large number of special sexual positions and exercises that serve to cure or prevent illnesses and discomforts, and to increase sexual pleasure and “performance.”
The Fangzhongshu practices are also known as “Joining Energy” or “Joining the Essences,” and this is important because it’s claimed by several sources that the real meaning of the Fangzhongshu is not so much the sexual arts itself but using sexual activity to stay in good health, retain and produce Jing (a nutritive essence and one of the so-called Three Treasures Jing, Qi and Shen), promote Life Energy (Qi essence) and longevity, and grow in Spiritual Wisdom (Shen essence).
For instance, many Taoist practitioners connect the loss of ejaculatory fluids to the loss of Vital Life Force (Qi or Chi energy, resulting in premature aging, illnesses, and general fatigue. Thus, it’s believed that decreasing the frequency of — or even totally avoiding — ejaculation is essential preserving life essence. Female orgasms, on the other hand, are claimed to be spiritually energizing and not draining, yet, the menstruation period and childbirth are.
Over time, Taoists developed different methods to control ejaculation such as pulling out immediately before an orgasm, certain breathing and focusing techniques, or applying pressure on the perineum and thereby retaining the sperm.
Another important idea is that the union of a man and a woman (i.e. lovemaking) can result in the creation of sexual energy and Jing essence, which in its turn can be transformed into Qi to replenish Life Force. This process is called Sexual Alchemy (part of Neidan Inner Alchemy practices). In fact, having as much sex as possible, and by doing it the right way, one has the opportunity to transform more Jing and experience many health benefits.
The Fangzhongshu is certainly not only for men. For instance, well-known sexual enhancement practices for women are the Taoist Breast Massage, Ovarian Breathing, and the use of the Jade Egg (Yoni Egg). Besides that, women should be stimulated and pleased in order to be able to benefit from the sexual act. If sex is performed in this manner, women can create more Jing, benefiting both men and women.