Sextasy – Book Review

By Caroline Aldred.

East and West meet with a bit of a smack in this sex guide. A very sensual read with a lot of excellent information but be warned: it gets off to a bad start with flowery, banal even meaningless tidbits, which are worth skipping. When you get into the heart of the book, it has something to offer.

Caroline Aldred is a yoga and tantra master, so she brings that New Age voice and rhetoric to this book. Once you get used to the style, if you can get used to it, you can learn from the underlying ideas, which are rich because they draw from Taoist and Tantric sources as well as the Kama Sutra, but glue it together with a good deal of Western sexual knowledge.

To be more specific, here’s an example of what could easily be skipped. It is taken from a part headed “Touching”:

“When someone you are talking with makes gentle physical contact, such as by touching the arm, it could be just a friendly gesture or it could mean they are attracted to you. More intimate actions, such as picking a hair or fluff from your clothing, or leaning a knee against yours under the table, are usually more reliable signs that the other person is attracted to you.”

My first response to this trite was to toss the book, five pages in. I’m glad I persevered and I strongly suggest that the editors slash the early bits should there be further editions. Basically, I found that the material dealing with relationships and love are fluffy and based on her rambling experience more than on anything new or substantiated. Once you get into the male and female body workings and techniques, you can enjoy a good mosaic of the ancient Eastern sources and contemporary Western wisdom.

In the few areas where East and West clash, for example in the Taoist idea that male ejaculation weakens the body and should not be wasted, she doesn’t take a stand, putting the belief out there without presenting it as either truth or faux pas.

If the style bothers you, you can always just look at the pictures. There’s a good range of them, some of which just set the mood and others that illustrate positions and ideas. There are also some useful anatomic diagrams to give a slightly better idea of the tricky bits, like where the G-spot, prostate or the genital reflexology points lie.

There were a few small details where the authors showed that her background in yoga and allied philosophies is stronger than her scholarship in human sexuality. For example, when she explains pheromones, she fails to mention that although the idea is very appealing, their effect is still being debated. Statements like “when you are making love, forget that you are a man and she is a woman” may be at the heart of tantric philosophy but is put forward without reference to our Western context and belief systems, which would make this guideline utterly impossible for a lot of heterosexual couples and maybe even counter-productive to their sexual arousal.


  •  Written by a Tantric sex coach and yoga master
  •  Written in New Age style
  •  Covers male and female sexuality equally
  •  Filled with erotic photographs and anatomical diagrams
  •  Includes motivational quotes from ancient and contemporary sources



Delta, 2003


Dinah Rates      

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