Are you ready for mindful masturbation?

Kama promises to help you get off and connect with your body at the same time. Rosie Mullender investigates the app everyone's talking about...
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  • What is it?

    Kama – pronounced cam-a, not kar-ma, according to its founder – is a new, free, sexual wellness app, released in autumn last year, which aims to help tackle the ‘global sex recession’. Inspired by the fact that in 2019, the World Association of Sexual Health declared pleasure a human right (although they would do, wouldn’t they?) Kama aims to help users find balance by focusing on the body instead of the brain – rather like getting in your daily lockdown exercise, except horizontal.

    Founded by entrepreneur Chloe Macintosh, who was previously the Chief Creative Officer for the Soho House Group, the app claims to ‘Combine neuroscience, psychosexual therapy, somatic wellness and ancient wisdom,’ via talks, articles and community events, and help you ‘Become a better lover by mastering your own body.’

    As Chloe puts it, “We often leave it to others to make decisions about our health and sexual wellbeing, which ultimately leaves us unfulfilled. Sex therapy is mostly unregulated but, at Kama, we are working with some of the world’s most respected academics experts to…educate our clients about pleasure.”

    What’s not to like?

    Who is it for?

    Literally everyone. The app makes a big deal of the fact that it’s aimed at people of every gender, age, sexual orientation and body size, and is for couples and single people alike.

    How does it work?

    The app’s divided into sections, including Self-Care Practices, such as short meditation sessions or how to release tension with laughter, and Talks and New Ideas, which looks at the emotional side of connecting with your body.

    At the heart of the app are the Kama Orgasm Workshops. Each is narrated by an expert, some with an accompanying video, lasting from just a few minutes to 45 minutes plus. You can choose from sessions aimed at solo or coupled-up ‘vulva bodies’ and ‘penis bodies’. And topics cover everything from emotional sexual wellbeing – such as Healing Touch for Emotional Balance – to the more practical, including Waking Up the Genitals for Pleasure and A Complete Pelvic Floor Training.

    There’s also a ‘Reset Room’ for additional support when getting off mindfully isn’t quite doing it for you. Sessions here include bite-sized guides on Moving Through Fear and Face Vagal Toning, a relaxation exercise that softens your facial muscles (the vagus nerve having nothing to do with vaginas, sorry).

    Best bits

    It’s a beautifully designed app, bathed in soft pastel colours like a particularly tasteful Farrow and Ball swatch. And if you’re already into meditation and mindfulness, using those skills to get in touch with your sexual self and improve your sex life can only be a positive step.

    For example, a session on How to Expand Your Orgasms involves relaxation exercises and mindful breathing, one hand on your heart and one on your vulva, breathing positivity downwards. The accompanying (fully-clothed) video shows you exactly what to do, and encourages users to slowly relax and get in touch with their heart and body, rather than diving straight for their clitoris.

    An awful lot of work has clearly gone into each session, with soothing expert voices guiding you carefully, ASMR-style, through each step. There’s plenty to explore here, especially for such a new app. And it’s pretty remarkable that such a huge bank of expertise is free to access.

    Cringiest bits

    If Kama was a person, it would have a man-bun and be wearing a home-made organic alpaca-wool jumper. It bends over backwards to be inclusive, and regularly asks users to check in with their vulva or penis body (one 11-minute session is titled Asking for Permission, but is about making sure you’re feeling A-OK, rather than a partner). It might take some getting used to.

    The longer sessions are also unlikely to appeal to those who aren’t used to the slow pace and mindfulness of meditation. Or those who might feel self-conscious starting a workshop with a spot of laughing out loud. Despite committing to ‘showing up and dedicating this time to myself’ (which the app asks you to do before each session), the temptation to skip to the end was too strong for me.

    As the kind of heathen who thinks yoga is a bit ‘out there,’ spending 45 minutes on masturbation – something that’s usually simply a quick distraction to while away an ad break – requires a level of patience I haven’t yet reached. Although perhaps that means I actually need to commit to the app more than most.

    Verdict

    If you’re already into meditation, Kama offers some welcome new ways of connecting with your body and relaxing. Plus, there’s the added bonus that you get an orgasm at the end (if you like: there is, of course, no pressure to work towards a happy ending). If you’re used to concentrating on the noises around you, as urged by meditation apps, you should have no trouble tuning into your vulva instead. It’s expertly designed, easy to navigate, and a new way of whiling away lockdown.

    If you’re keen to explore further, the app has also introduced the concept of ‘Wet January,’ featuring live workshop tutorials on squirting, or female ejaculation. This really isn’t up my alley (so to speak…), but proves Kama is on a mission it’s not going to abandon lightly.

    If you’re a bit more impatient, you might prefer some more instant ways of finding pleasure. It’s definitely worth a look, though. And who knows, you might discover that with some added ooh-la-la, meditation is your thing after all…

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