A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO BONDAGE

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but you can be sure that satisfaction brought it back. The previously dark and taboo world of BDSM has been thrust into the spotlight over the past few years, thanks to the never ending popularity of 'Fifty Shades of Grey', and we're firmly of the belief that the world can be a better place for it. A 2013 study even found that fans of bondage and S&M report better mental health!

If you're reading this guide to bondage, then we can safely assume that you're interested in bringing certain elements of this world into your sex life. Well you knocked on the door and Ann Summers has answered. We're here to help you on the road to all things kinky, so read our in-depth bondage guide to find out more. Welcome to the dark side, honey.


What is BDSM?

Before we can teach you how to do it, you first need to understand exactly what it is. Although people refer to BDSM as any kind of sexual play that isn't vanilla, it's actually an umbrella term that is made up of multiple different disciplines!

There are three main aspects of BDSM… B&D - Bondage and Discipline. Bondage refers to the use of restraints in a manner that enhances sexual pleasure, whereas Discipline is the use of punishment or reward in response to a set of rules. So if you've ever spanked your partner for being naughty or used a pair of handcuffs, then congratulations! You have dabbled in the world of B&D.

D&S - Dominance and submission. This branch places a heavier emphasis on power play, hence why some refer to it as D/s (note the capital D and lower case s, which emphasises this further). This type of BDSM play can either be informal, such as a teacher and student fantasy, or much heavier in the form of humiliation. If you've ever acted out a power play fantasy, like boss and secretary, then you've dipped your toe in here.


S&M - Sadism and masochism. Remember the Rihanna song? Well this is what she was singing about! This branch is not only the most physical, but it's also the branch that you've likely come across most often thanks to popular culture. It often links in quite strongly with B&D and D/s aspects of play, or perhaps you're just into something a little rougher! From hair pulling, spanking and biting, to paddling, whipping and clamps, it's all part of the S&M world.




Common myths about BDSM

'Fifty Shades of Grey' has lifted the curtain on the world of BDSM, but there are still a great deal of myths and misconceptions around it and the people who practice, and we're here to shed some light on the situation. This isn't a complete list by any means, but it goes some way to show that you should definitely do your research before believing everything you hear.


Myth #1 - Submissives in BDSM relationships are weak Submissives, also known as subs or a "bottom", is the receiver of the action, so they are the ones who receive any physical punishment or are being controlled. On the surface, it seems as though the dominants are the strong ones and the submissives are bending to their will; it's actually somewhat the opposite! The submissives actually have all the power; the dominant is only able to carry out those acts (which are from a pre-agreed list) because the submissive has consented to it. And, if the submissive should say 'no' at any point (more on this later), then the dominant has to stop. So you see, all the power is in the submissive's hands!


Myth #2 - BDSM always involves sex This one is more of a generalisation and whilst, for many people, BDSM can be tied to sex (if you'll excuse the pun), many people firmly separate the two. Many professional Doms who are paid to carry out BDSM acts will not engage in sex with their submissives, as for some people it is a very separate act to sexual gratification. On the other hand, some couples may engage in sex during their BDSM scenes; it is simply a matter of personal preference!


Myth #3 - There's something wrong with you Those who are completely new to bondage may assume that those who take part have undergone some kind of childhood trauma, or that they must have a mental condition in order to enjoy giving or receiving pain. Both could not be further from the truth. BDSM is simply a form of self-expression - and we certainly aren't ones to judge! It either floats your boat or it doesn't; all that matters is that you enjoy it!


Myth #4 - You're either a Dom or a Sub There's a common misconception that you either fall into the category of a Dom or a Sub, usually based on your personality type. However, more often than not, the opposite can be true. Those who appear to be in control and dominating in their everyday life may prefer to submit and be told what to do behind closed doors, and vice versa. But you don't need to segment yourself into one or the other. If you and your partner are just starting to explore this world, you can try out both roles, which is called being a "switch". Don't feel restricted; be free and let yourself explore.


Why engage in BDSM?

BDSM is a gateway to sexual experimentation, and can take your pleasure to whole new levels, but it also brings a whole number of other benefits to your general health and your relationship. The whole point of this bondage guide is to encourage you to be more open with your partner and experience new levels of pleasure.


So, let's take a look, shall we?

1. It enhances intimacy between couples Any type of sexual expression requires a certain degree of intimacy, but during a BDSM scene that level of intimacy is actually greatly enhanced due to the physical risk that can actually be involved. Think about it; if you're going to be trussed up, gagged and blindfolded, or spanked, then you are placing an incredibly high level of trust in your partner. And there's even some science to back this up, so don't just take our word for it! In 2009, a study was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that looked at the impact on couples bonding in consensual sadomasochistic activity, and found that when SM activities went well, there was an increase in relationship closeness.

2. It also helps your communication Before two people can even think about taking part in a BDSM scene, they must communicate openly and honestly with one another. They must discuss their sexual desires and limits in great detail, come up with a "safe word" which immediately stops all play, and be able to draw the line between play and typical relationship behaviour. Transparency and open and honest interaction are the founding pillars of a healthy BDSM relationship, and these can transfer into other areas of your life.

3. It can improve your mental health Any kind of physical activity can have a positive effect on our mental health, whether it's exercise, physical touch or sex, thanks to the release of endorphins and Oxytocin (the 'love' hormone) in our brains. But the same can also be said about BDSM.

We've already covered one of the myths regarding the world of BDSM; that those who practice it must have something wrong with their mental health. However, it might even be said that the opposite is true! A study conducted in 2013 and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that those who partook in BDSM had higher scores on certain indicators of mental health compared to those who had vanilla sex. According to the findings, those who considered themselves to be 'BDSM-friendly' were more open to new experiences, were less rejection-sensitive, less neurotic, and more extraverted. The 2009 study quoted above also found that those who participated in BDSM had lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) afterwards. And we all know the negative impact that stress can have on our mental and physical health.

4. You can experience more pleasure The old saying is true; there really is a fine line between pleasure and pain. For many people, the notion of being in pain, whether that's through a light spanking or the prick of a Wartenberg Pinwheel, can really heighten the feelings of pleasure when they finally do arrive. However, the notion of enhanced pleasure can actually go much further. If you restrict your partner's senses, by tying them up, adding a blindfold or earplugs to reduce their hearing, then their other senses will experience a spike in sensitivity; most notably their skin or sense of touch. Plus, not being able to see, hear or touch your partner can really add some spice to the proceedings.


What are the different types of BDSM?

The world of BDSM isn't just black and white; in fact it is anything but! There are dozens of different ways to play out there for you to experiment with, so you're sure to find something that suits your tastes.

To help introduce you to this whole new world, we'll cover just a few of the types out there, but remember this list isn't complete. We're just easing you in slowly, darling. Consider it inspiration for any bondage ideas when the time comes to play.

Role play: No doubt this is a category that the majority of readers will be familiar with. Student and teacher or patient and doctor; they all fall under the same category of role play.

Restraining: Also known as bondage, this type of play refers to any method that is used to bind you or your partner during a scene. This can include handcuffs, blindfolds, clamps, spreader bars, ropes, wrist and ankle cuffs, and hog ties. For those who are more advanced, ceiling suspension equipment and the use of bondage furniture like a St. Andrew's Cross can also come into play.



Japanese Rope Bondage: As we've explained above, ropes fall under the category of restraining already, but Japanese Rope Bondage is an art form in itself. This practice, also known as Shibari or Kinbaku, uses intricate rope patterns on the willing submissive to create harnesses and restraints, and can twist you into all kinds of positions.

Impact play: In a nutshell, impact play does exactly what it says on the tin; it's all to do with any type of impact that may be inflicted on a person's body. This covers bare-handed spanking, flogging, caning, whipping, paddling, or spanking with a ruler. Wanna spank? We'll show you how.

Sensation play: This refers to any type of play where you are enhancing the sensations your partner will experience. Some of the most common techniques include wax play or involving ice; playing with food such as melted chocolate or whipped cream; using feathers, scarves or ticklers; using a Wartenberg Wheel or electro toys.

Getting started with BDSM

If you've made it this far in our guide to bondage, then no doubt you're itching to get started. Hold onto those handcuffs for now, because there's just a few things th