The hormone oxytocin is perhaps best known for its role in female reproduction and is secreted by the pituitary gland during mechanical stimulation of the nipples and genital area during labor, breast-feeding and sexual activity. It produces muscle contractions associated with orgasm in both men and women as well as the uterine contractions in labor. However, some additional functions include: social recognition, pair bonding, reduction of anxiety, maternal behavior development and stimulating involution and recovery of the uterus after childbirth. It is for these reasons that it is sometimes dubbed “the cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment and calmness and security around a mate, which is one of the reasons that fear and anxiety diminish while it is secreted during sexual activity.
The deer exercise is a Chinese Qigong exercise that is done in order to strengthen vitality, even out sexual energy and restore equanimity. It accomplishes this by increasing the secretion of oxytocin. The exercise is performed while sitting, in two parts, with two areas of self-stimulation as follows:
- Sit in Siddhasana (one heel pressed below the pubic bone with the other leg folded in front) Note: if the heel can’t reach, use a tennis ball.
- With the hands, perform light rubbing upward and outward circles around the nipples 36 times.
- Stop and perform a Keigel-like squeeze up against the tennis ball and hold for one minute, then release and repeat steps 2 and 3 for 10 min.
- Do the exercise once daily.
In addition to increased oxytocin secretion, there is also increased blood and lymphatic flow around these areas, increased pelvic floor strength and reduced symptoms of PMS and menopause as well as greater comfort during sexual activity. But perhaps the most interesting potential that this exercise might have would be to trick the body into thinking that it is nursing since it mimics the stimulation of an infant suckling. In order to do this, the exercise would have to be performed perhaps 2 to 3 times per day as above. During nursing, menstruation stops for many women. When done in conjunction with basal body temperature charting and vaginal mucus monitoring, these natural forms of family planning might be more effective. However, this exercise should not be done during pregnancy as it might induce labor prematurely. In addition, if one wishes to become pregnant, the exercise should also be stopped. Although the oral contraceptive pill and other artificial forms of birth control are perhaps less work, they are also disempowering as you will understand your body less while being subject to their side effects. Oxytocin’s benefits will also be absent.
Although some might think that this exercise as well as the other methods of family planning are antique, consider this; they are also eco-friendly as there is less estrogen/ progesterone getting into the environment and effecting wildlife, they are cheap and could potentially be practiced everywhere (including the third-world). I’m sure David Suzuki would be proud.