You’ve probably heard of Tantra. For many, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear ‘Tantric’ or ‘Tantra’ is sex. You would be semi-correct in this thinking, but that’s not the whole picture.
Tantric practices, including Tantra yoga, focus on the subtle energies within the body to enhance spiritual growth and physical wellbeing. Naturally, this focus may improve your sex life due to the affect of getting in touch with one’s own body and energy. That’s what Tantra is really about – connection – with yourself or between you and your partner..
What is Tantric Yoga and Where Did it Originate?
No one knows exactly when Tantra began but historians believe it could have started as early as 500 AD or as late as the 16th century. One thing is for sure though – it has certainly evolved over the years and Western elements have buried many of the other elements while bringing the sexual aspect to the forefront.
Still, Tantra is first and foremost a personal practice of liberation. Through Tantric yoga practice, it is said that one can ultimately reach a state of eternal bliss.
Historically and traditionally, Tantra yoga is rooted in Hatha yoga and also includes elements of Kundalini, Bhakti, Karma, Raja and other forms of yoga. However, Tantra yoga also weaves other non-yoga practices such as astrology, chanting, Ayurveda, chakra work, and more. Tantra yoga practice most likely includes Vinyasa practice, meditation, breath work, and more.
At the heart of most Tantric schools and practices is the idea of awakening kundalini, a thoughtful, dynamic energy which is in the form of a serpent lying dormant at the base of the spine. The ancient Tantric practices focused on bringing that dormant energy to life by moving it upward through the seven chakras in the body. In modern timers, many Tantric yoga students focus more on bringing the energy body (or the subtle body) into a state of balance and less on the kundalini awakening.
In terms of the yoga aspect, Tantra is about weaving together yoga practices with other spiritual teachings to connect with others and the universe. With consistent practice of Tantric yoga, you can get in tune with who you are and, when done with a partner, you can deepen your relationship.
Tantric yoga focuses on five different bodies: the physical body, the energetic body, the mental body, the wisdom body, and the bliss body. Each one has its own weaknesses and strengths and when they’re brought to the surface, you can expect to gain control and start responding consciously in your life.
What are the Benefits of Practicing Tantric Yoga?
The goal of Tantra yoga is three-fold: to thrive, to prosper, and to bring the spiritual world and the material world into one.
People have different reasons for practicing yoga. These reasons can be to lose weight, gain muscle, flexibility, self-improvement, relieve anxiety and more. However, Tantric yoga has one main specific purpose – spiritual liberation.
Spiritual liberation is the end goal, but it also has many other benefits that come along with it naturally. The benefits of Tantric yoga possibly can include: reduced stress, anxiety and depression, understanding oneself, sleep improvement, boosted self confidence and performance in the bedroom, improved quality of life, and an increased capacity for intimacy.
Due to Tantric yoga’s approach and its emphasis on the oneness of all things, it can be particularly helpful during polarizing times. During extreme times both personally and on a larger level, this helps one look at things from the outside. From a place of nonattachment, you can analyze things from an unbiased viewpoint and understand that coming to a sense of unity is of utmost importance.
Tantra is about acknowledging that we may be in a world full of suffering, trauma, and disaster, but that the world is still a beautiful place.
Tantric Yoga and Tantric Sex are Not the Same Thing
While the two are from the same tree, they are not of the same branch of Tantra. Traditionally speaking, there is white Tantra and red Tantra. White is the solo practice of yoga and meditation and red Tantra is the sexual practice. Both utilize sexual energy but one is about creating a deeper bond with self and the other about creating a deeper bond with one’s partner. According to experts, you can not reach red Tantra without first reaching white Tantra. Similar to the token phrase of “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
A Guide to Tantric Yoga Poses
While Tantric yoga isn’t about specific poses or specific sequences and everyTantric yoga class or practice can easily look different, all Tantric yoga classes should include these five types of positions: inversions, side bends, forward folds, twists, backbends.
Here are a few Tantric yoga poses to get you started on your Tantra journey.
One person sits cross-legged – this is traditionally the male or larger partner. The other person then sits on their partner’s thighs with their ankles crossed behind their partner’s back. Allow foreheads to touch, keeping your backs straight, and taking deep breaths. This posture and position promotes awareness, aligns partners’ chakras, and synchronizes breathing. Many partners will gaze into one another’s eyes, but eyes closed also works.
Partners sit facing one another cross-legged. Each person places their right hand on their partner’s heart chakra and their left hand on top of their partner’s right hand. Tune in to your heart both through the physical beating and the energy. You can also take part in this position in a spooning position.
When done solo, this pose helps to strengthen and stretch. When done with a partner, this pose helps you connect to one another. Sit ont he floor facing each other. Reach for your partner’s hands with your arms outside your legs. Starting with your knees bent, lift your legs to place the soles of your feet against your partner’s. As you lift your feet towards the sky, work on straightening your legs.