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What is Tantra Yoga?

Tantra Yoga definition composed of two words: tattya and mantra. The former refers to a science of cosmic principles while the latter refers to the science of mystic sounds and vibrations. Looking at these two definitions, we can define Tantra as an act of applying cosmic sciences with the goal of attaining spiritual ascendancy. In Sanskrit, Tantra means “to loop, to weave, and to spread.” It can be defined as a spiritual tradition found in both Hinduism and Buddhism that co-developed in the middle of the 1st millennium. Tantra can also be defined as a systematic quest for spiritual excellence and salvation that is achieved by fostering the divine within one’s own body. The main reason why Tantra is different from other traditions is into account all the desires of a person. In life, we can only get true and everlasting fulfillment when all of life’s threads are woven according to the plan as designed in nature. Tantra is not just about sex as most people think. It goes beyond spiritual sexuality; it is a way of life.

Types of Tantra

Some types of Hindu lineages of Tantra are Shaktism, Shaivism, and Vaishnavism. Some of those from the Buddhist lineages are Vajrayana, Tantrayana, and Mantrayana. All these types act as individual and unique expressions of Tantra and have, in some way, influenced other Eastern religious traditions such as Daoism, Shinto, and Jainism. Shiva and Shakti are embodiments of god and goddess who represent infinite consciousness and ever permeating creative energy respectively. Shiva the masculine, formless consciousness that is dry and white like the sperm; found on the right side of the body on the left side of the brain. Shiva is yang and penetrative energy. On the other hand, Shakti is the feminine force that is found in all cosmic and macroscopic aspects of life. She is moist and red like the womb; found on the left side of the body on the right side of the brain. Shiva is the portal receiving energy- the infinitely mysterious void from which all life emerges. The love between these two represents a sacred union of opposites where true cosmic love is actualized. In Tantra, spiritual actualization is represented as the union of male and female with the goddess afforded a primary position as the creative force of the cosmos. This is so because historically, females are often more influential and powerful teachers. The idea of Tantra is finding wholeness of the unification of Shiva and Shakti within us while letting go of gender identifications. This enables us to find the wholeness of being. The kind of wholeness that brings our focus, grace, compassion, humility, and joy that is expressed as love.

Tantric Texts and Scriptures

Anyone who’s curious to delve in the studies of Tantra should begin by reading “Tantraloka,” a classical text written by Abhinavagupta of Shaivism. The word Tantraloka means “to throw light on Tantra.” Other texts worth a read include the “Vijnana Bhairava Tantra” which is basically a combination of different meditations ad breath works that have been translated into a series of poems in English. Another classical ancient text that serves as a guide for practicing esoteric techniques such as Tantra is the “Tantra Sutras.” Etymologically speaking, tan means to stretch while tra means technique. The term Sutras refers to the threads that are found in these sacred texts. The Atharva Veda is considered to be one of the prime tantric scriptures. Yet again, Tantra also means the scripture by which the light of knowledge is spread i.e. tanyate vistaryate jnanam anamna iti tantram. Basically, there are two schools of Indian scriptures which are the Agama and the Nigama. The Agama scriptures feature revelations while the Nigama scriptures feature the traditions. Tantra is an Agama and hence it’s referred to as Sruti Shakhavisesah. In total, there are 18 Agamas which are also known as Shiva Tantras; they’re ritualistic in nature. There are 3 main Nigamas which include the Dakshina, Vama, and Madhyama. These traditions represent the 3 powers of Shiva that are characterized by the 3 Gunas: Sattya, Rajas, and Tamas respectively.

The Tantric Practice

Tantra gives us a vision that enables us to take the different colorful threads i.e. wisdom, creativity, consciousness, and spiritual techniques and to delicately weave an exquisite rainbow loom. It is this loom that we use to cloak our spirits in the bliss of the sensual human experience. The loom that a person chooses to weave is based purely on their own experience. Tantra invites us to slowly absorb the present moment as we sip and taste the many notes of nectar within the human experience. Through Tantra, we are able to connect more intimately with our bodies and breathe so that we can further embody our own unique essence. In a nutshell, Tantra is the living in harmony within and without; it refers to the merging of opposites: light and dark, heaven and earth, feminine and masculine, sun and moon. Although Tantra is expressed in different cultures and lineages, its origin is still questionable. The practices are, however, believed to have been developed by people who were “Tantric cults” and did not belong in the mainstream.

Tantrism

Tantrism is an overarching term for “Tantric traditions” that was created by Europeans in the 19th century to refer to an accumulated source of practices and ideas in the Indian traditions that are from varied sources. Tantrism is a systematic quest for salvation that gives its followers the freedom to combine Tantric with non-Tantric aspects. The main elements of Buddhist and Hindu Tantrism are:
  • Geometric Temple Layout
  • Symmetric Mandala
  • Bija Mantras
  • Ritual Diadem
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Gestures
  • Chakras
  • Dhyana
  • Diksha
  • Nyasa
  • Puja
The above-listed elements are not universal or compulsory. The variants depend on the lineage and text from which one is born.

Tantra Yoga

When most people hear about Tantra Yoga, they just think about sex. On the contrary, Tantra yoga is far beyond mere sex. It is a branch of yoga that represents the dynamic and static principles of the universe: Shiva and Shakti. Tantra yoga seeks to balance human instincts in an attempt to understand the continual play between these two principles in order to reach enlightenment. This form of meditation is believed to have originated from India in the 5th century AD. It’s built on the principle of wisdom, true knowledge, and awareness of oneself and of all worldly concepts. Through Tantra yoga, we are able to attain a wider scope of vision, opinions, and understanding. Tantra yoga opens up our minds, bodies, and souls to a whole new level of peace and serenity. This ancient practice is a powerful combination of rituals such as:
  • Asanas
  • Mantras
  • Mudras
  • Yantras
  • Bandha
  • Chakra
  • Meditation
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Visualization of deities
  • Physical and Ritual Cleaning
All the above-listed rituals are used to build strength, clarity, and bliss to help us move through the world in our everyday life with more contentment. These rituals encourage its participants to build up kundalini energy in the top chakras so it “spills from the top.” Tantra yoga helps people to get in touch with their own body and energy. As a result, their sex lives are improved. This type of yoga helps us to explore the subtle energies within our bodies to enhance spiritual growth and physical wellbeing. Working on these energies helps us to understand the purpose of life in a new dimension. The 3 main reasons why we practice Tantra yoga are:
  1. To thrive
  2. To Prosper
  3. To bring merge the spiritual and material worlds
The main idea behind Tantra yoga is to weave together the different yoga practices and spiritual teachings in order to connect with others and the universe. When we practice Tantra yoga, we are able to get in touch with who we are, achieve what we want, and deepen our relationships. The practice takes the whole body into account and focuses on 5 different bodies:
  1. The physical body
  2. The energetic body
  3. The mental or emotional body
  4. The wisdom body
  5. The bliss body
Each and every one of these bodies has its own weaknesses and its own strengths; these are often buried deep down. Through Tantra yoga, we can bring them all to the surface and, therefore, stop responding unconsciously and gain control over our desires.

What’s The Point of Tantra Yoga?

Tantra enhances one’s sex life since its practices are founded on the principle of intimacy. Considering the fact that intimacy is not entirely physical, it wouldn’t be right for the word “Tantra” to only conjure up scenes of sexuality alone. The main purpose of Tantra yoga is to improve a person’s emotional wellbeing and at the same time aid their spiritual and physical health (read more about Top 15 Yoga Health Benefits). Tantra yoga also shows us exactly what is blocking us from thriving; it then gives us solutions on how we can attain both spiritual and material prosperity. Tantra yoga may be practiced individually or together with other people. In both scenarios, the relationship between the self and others is improved.

Neo-Tantra

Neo-Tantra is also referred to as Navatantra or “American Tantric Yoga.” The word refers to a westernized version of Tantra that is usually associated with new religions. This includes both New Age and modern Western interpretations of traditional Hinduism and Buddhism Tantra. Neo-tantra is believed to have been spun from ancient and traditional principles that have been fused together with western relaxation concepts and meditation techniques. Also, not all of the elements of Indian tantric practices are used in Neo-Tantra, particularly the reliance on a guru. As the interest in Tantra has grown in the West, its perception deviates remarkably from the Tantric traditions. It is now seen as a “cult of ecstasy” that combines sexuality and spirituality to correct Western repressive attitudes towards sex. The creators of Neo-Tantra have come up with a wide range of pyramids that are used for meditation. These pyramids are based on sacred geometry and often feature a focal point in their design. As Tantra and Neo-Tantra became more popular in the West, it has become identified with its sexual methods in western culture. As a result, its essential nature as a spiritual practice is overlooked. The roles of sexuality in both Tantra and Neo-Tantra are quite different although they are, to some extent, related. One way in which Neo-tantra differs from Tantra yoga is that the former is more modern and less physically challenging. It’s, therefore, less risky for a person to sustain injuries. One major similarity between these two differ is that they both encourage techniques that allow couples to work together in order to build a more fulfilling relationship.

Tantric Sexology for Beginners

Tantric practices not only improve one’s love life but their overall health as well. It helps one to channel all their sexual energy into a focal point so that none of it escapes from the body during orgasm. Here are some tips to guide anyone who would like to try out this ancient art of sexual intimacy:

1. Design an Intimate Space

The area should create a comfortable setting where you are able to relax. Make sure that space is clean, decorated with flowers, and scented with natural oils like rose or jasmine. The bed should have comfortable sheets with cozy pillows. In addition to all that, play some soft music in the background to set the mood.

2. Breathe Each Other’s Breath

One of the easiest ways of getting in sync with your partner is by harmonizing your breath. Inhale your partner’s breath when they exhale and vice versa. By breathing each other’s breath, you are sharing all of yourself with your partner.

3. Keep Your Eyes Open

Keeping your eyes open during lovemaking is a great way of maintaining a deep connection during intimacy. Sharing glimpses during the act creates a profound experience.

4. Take It Slow

Foreplay is an essential part of Tantra yoga. It helps men to control longevity and piques women’s arousal. The more time you spend on foreplay, the longer the session will last and the more energy will build up.

Tantra Yoga Poses

Tantra yoga poses are a good way to expand one’s capacity for intimacy and union. It doesn’t really matter whether you practice by yourself or with your partner. Tantra yoga helps us to conquer any behaviors that hold us back from the intimacy we desire. Below is a list of 12 popular Tantra yoga poses that help individuals, as well as partners, achieve a deeper connection. Hopefully, these poses will increase the bond with your partner and you are able to communicate in a nonverbal way. You can modify the exercises depending on your level of flexibility. Alternatively, you can start with the simpler poses as you progress to the more complicated poses.

Boat Pose

This pose helps in stretching and strengthening the core muscles i.e. those in the lower back and abdominals. To perform the boat ride, you sit on the floor while facing each other with your partner. Your arms should be outside your legs and reaching out for your partner’s hands. Start out with bent knees and lift your legs to place the soles of your feet against the soles of your partner.
Tantra Yoga Boat Pose
Tantra Yoga Boat Pose
Try straightening your legs as you move them up. As you do this, make sure that the soles of your feet are connected to those of your partner. While the feet are still touching, try and move the legs apart in a straddle. Feel free to modify the pose depending on your flexibility and comfort level. The most important things that you should focus on are touch and eye contact. Breathe in and out slowly.
Tantra yoga boat pose
Tantra Yoga Boat Pose combined with Lotus Pose 

Child’s Pose

To perform this pose, bring your knees wide to the edges of the mat. You should then fold forward so that your forehead rests on the mat. Extend your arms outstretched overhead but make sure that they’re still resting on the mat.
Tantra Yoga child's pose
Child’s pose
When performed with a partner, your heads should be pointed towards each other. You can connect your palms with your partner to share your essence with your partner as you inhale and exhale.

Peace Pose

Start out in a seated position with your legs crossed. If you’re practicing by yourself, ensure that the tips of your index fingers touch the tips of the thumb while the other three fingers remain extended. The palms should face upwards and be resting on your knees.
Tantra yoga peace pose
Peace pose
If you are practicing with a partner, sit in a back to back position with each other in such a way that your spines align. Take deep breaths as you focus on smoothing out the length of the inhale to match the length of the exhale.

Dancer’s Pose

The dancer’s pose focuses on balance, eye contact, and touch. Start in a standing position as you face each other and hold hands. Your other free hand should either reach out for your ankle or shin and bring your leg up. Slowly lean your upper body towards your partner; all the while, maintaining eye contact.
Tantra yoga dancer pose
Dancer’s pose
If the balance is an issue, you can have one of you do the pose while the other person holds them to assist with balance.

Yab Yum

Tantra Yoga Yab Yum pose
The Yab Yum pose helps couples to keep their energies aligned. The larger partner (usually the man) sits with their legs crossed on a comfortable mat while the other person sits on their thighs and crosses her legs behind the partner’s back.
While in this position, ensure that your foreheads touch
and you breathe slowly and deeply in a synchronized manner. Both your backs should remain as straight as possible. You can do the Yab Yum pose with your eyes closed or open in order to connect on a whole new level. It all depends on what is more comfortable for you.

 Sun Salutations

Start in a standing position on the yoga mat. If you are by yourself, you can practice in front of a mirror; if you’re with a partner, you can either practice standing side by side or facing each other. Bring palms to meet at the center. Alternatively, you could place one of your hands on your heart and the one on your partner’s heart.
As you take deep breaths, extend your arms overhead and bow forward. Keep your heart open as you gaze forward and release your head into a forward fold.

Hand-On-Heart

To practice this pose, lie on your back and have your partner do the same next to you. Alternatively, you can both sit facing each other with your legs crossed. Then place the palm of your hand over each other’s heart and feel the heartbeats. While in this position, assume slow and harmonized breathing.

Modified Side Plank Pose

Start with your wrists aligned under shoulders, hands spread wide, and hips stacked over knees. For this pose, lightly touch the crown of the head with one another. Then extend your right shins to your back, toes curled under as you root right hand into the mat and open your chests towards one another.
If you’re practicing by yourself, bring your left hand to rest over your heart as you stack your left shoulder over right so your heart is wide open. The hips should also be stacked to create a beautiful opening for what is considered our more vulnerable energetic centers: hips and hearts. If you are practicing with your partner, connect left palms overhead.

Pelvic Tilt

Before you get started on the Pelvic Tilt pose, gently place one of your hands over your tailbone area. Inhale and then lift your tailbone towards the ceiling; while at it, tuck your pelvis towards the ground.
Hold the position briefly then exhale and tuck your tailbone towards the ground and slowly lift your pelvis towards the ceiling. Again, briefly held the position and repeat the sequence. When you have mastered the movements and can do the tilting without too many problems, remove your hands from the tailbone area and continue with the motion. While you inhale and lift your tailbone, open up your chest region towards the ceiling and draw your shoulder blades together. During exhale, tuck the chest region and draw you’re your shoulders together in front of your chest.

Seated Twist

The seated twist pose improves the connection with your partner but also warms up your spine and enhances flexibility.
You and your partner should sit with your knees touching and your legs crossed. Together, move your right arms towards the front and bring your left arms across your backs towards the front. Now hold each other’s opposite hands. To achieve this position, bend sideways facing opposite directions. Hold the position for a while and change positions.

Legs-Up-The-Wall

This restorative pose with your partner in Child’s pose with their arms extending out and relaxed. Sit on their hips while facing away from them.
Lean back and allow your spine to follow the curve of his. Then raise your legs in the air and hold the position. Switch positions with your partner and repeat.

Downward Facing Dog

To practice the downward facing dog, bend backward in such a way that you have your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
Downward facing dog yoga pose
Downward facing dog (credit: Iveto)
Then spread your palms wide and turn your toes. As you exhale, extend your feet up so that your tailbone faces towards the ceiling. The downward facing dog pose is quite relaxing and stimulates blood flow to the brain. While practicing, have your partner support you. After a while, switch positions with your partner.

How to Ensure You Get a Great Experience While Practicing The Poses

Here are some of the things that you should keep in mind when practicing the poses listed above:
  • Communicate beforehand; tell each other what you’re both comfortable with. Be open and share your feelings with your partner.
  • Establish a strong non-verbal connection with your partner
  • Always be supportive and patient with each other
  • Explore and try out new things together
  • If you’re struggling with flexibility and balance, it is okay to modify the poses a little bit
  • Always choose quality over quantity. Spend whatever little time you have together well.
  • Don’t have any expectations or perceived notions
  • Consistent mental presence is mandatory
  • Lastly, never jump into conclusions or assume anything

Benefits of Practicing Tantra Yoga and Sex

Practicing Tantra yoga not only improves a person’s intimate life but also has numerous health benefits. Having powerful sexual orgasms coupled with a strong connection between the body, mind, and spirit increases the secretion of hormones by the pineal and pituitary glands. Tantric sex has a rejuvenating effect that gets rid of stress and depression. It alters body chemistry and empowers the endocrine glands to secrete more HGH, DHEA, serotonin, and testosterone. In addition to that, it also improves blood circulation, detoxifies the body through breath, and strengthens the cardiovascular, immune, as well as the nervous system.

Tantric Meditation

Tantric meditation is a type of meditation that awakens an individual’s consciousness enabling them to achieve purity of the body and soul. These types of meditations are dynamic and high-energy powered; their main goal is to release Shakti energy to flow up the spine to the crown chakra. Freeing the dormant energy (known as Kundalini) through Tantric meditation awakens the entire body and consciousness.
Tantric meditation techniques are intended to raise energy and invite the energy centers along the spine to open bringing tangible benefits. Tantric meditation can take different forms with each aimed at taking you further on your personal and spiritual development journey. Let us have a look at the two Tantric meditation techniques:

1.      The Third Eye Meditation

The third eye meditation allows the free circulation of energy along the spine by increasing heaven awareness without losing the connection with the earth. It enables the Crown Chakra and the Third Eye Chakra to open up so that sanctified power may get into the body.

Third Eye Meditation Steps

  • Sit comfortably and lengthen your spine as you inhale
  • Picture your head as though it’s being pulled towards the sky in a straight line
  • Picture your head as though it’s being pulled towards the sky in a straight line
  • While keeping the spine upright, exhale and push your tailbone downwards
  • Maintain a regular breathing pattern and keep your chin parallel to the floor
  • Position your tongue at the roof of your mouth and picture a bright ball sitting at the middle of your forehead representing your third eye
  • While breathing in through your nose, spin the ball to the top of your head all the way through the spine up to the tailbone. All along, recite the word “hung” in your mind.
  • Again, breathe out and let the ball come up your spine, over your head to the middle of your forehead. All along, recite the word “Sau” in your mind.
Third eye meditation
Third eye meditation

2.      The Light Meditation

This meditation technique focuses on light and relies heavily on one’s imagination. The light meditation technique borrows a lot of its aspects from Nyasa which is an ancient tantric custom. The technique allows you to either touch a certain body part or feels it using mental imagery.

The Steps…

  • Sit in an upright position and focus fully on your breathing motions and bodily sensations
  • Visualize your left foot forged from a warm, golden light. Move towards the light and perceive its feeling with the brightness getting all over your body from the sole to the toes.
  • Feel both your left ankle and your right ankle
  • As you walk, make sure that your steps are synchronized with your breathing
  • Imagine that the light has filled the left calf up to the bone. After, switch to the right calf
  • Let the light rise and perfectly brighten up your midriff. At this point, whisper that “My gut is made of light.”
  • Feel the light rise up from your lower spine as it brightens up your heart, lungs, and rib cage. Whisper that, “my chest is full of golden light.”
  • Allow the light to creep into your arms all the way to the fingertips.
  • Feel the golden light illuminate your face and allow it to get into your mouth and ears to light up your brain
  • Chant “I am light.”
The light meditation

Tantric Buddhism

Tantric Buddhism is also known as Vajrayana (diamond vehicle) and is considered to be one of the three main vehicles (yanas) of Buddhism alongside Mahayana (great vehicle) and Hinayana (small vehicle). It mainly focuses on mystical practices and concepts as a path to enlightenment. According to Tantric Buddhism, deities are not spirits to be worshipped but are representatives of the yogi’s inner form. For this reason, Tantric Buddhism is also referred to as Deity yoga. The yogi uses rituals, meditations, mandalas, and other practices to realize himself as a deity through which enlightenment is manifested. Buddhist Tantra is believed to have been expounded by the historical Buddha by teaching on how to transform pleasures into transcendent realization. It’s also speculated that Tantra was developed by Mahayana teachers in India. Some of the symbols that are used in Tantric Buddhism are quite confusing to people who are seeing them for the first time. Here are some of the major symbols:

1. The Vajra

This symbol features a combination of a weapon and a scepter. It represents the quality of indestructibility. The Vajra is held in the right hand during rituals.

2. The Bell

This symbolizes insight, emptiness, and the female aspect. It represents the sound of the Dharma and is used to offer sound in rituals. The Bell is held in the left hand during rituals.

Other Tantric Buddhism Symbols

  • The mala/rosary which is used for concentration
  • The skull-cup which symbolizes disengagement from the world
  • Swords which represent knowledge and intelligence
  • The curved knife which symbolizes the impermanence
  • The ritual dagger which symbolizes the transformation of negative powers on the path to enlightenment
  • Hammers/mallets which represent the crushing strength
  • The bow and arrow which represent single-pointed concentration. The arrow on its own is a symbol of longevity and prosperity.
  • The lasso which represents a constraint of negative forces

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