Everybody knows about yoga, but what is tantric yoga? It may ring a bell to some people as having something to do with sex. They are not wrong. But what else is tantric yoga? It could be a path to spiritual and physical ecstasy. It could be a path to finding yourself. It could also be a way to become more intimate with your partner. These are just a few reasons why increasingly more Westerners are turning to tantric yoga and transforming everyday experiences into a cause for blissful celebration.
What Is Tantric Yoga?
When you consider what yoga means or stands for you will find the underlying definition to be about a union. The Sanskrit breakdown of the word revolves around unity. When practicing any form of yoga, the goal or aim, to a strong degree, is union within the self. Matching up our breathing to our state of mind with meditation and maneuvering our bodies in accordance and flow. With this synchronized sequence of movement throughout the self, we find an alignment between our minds, body, and spirit. This synchronization breeds a stillness or deep connection within ourselves. Awareness shines through, and high degrees of consciousness open. It's truly a remarkable and beautiful experience. They consider the beauty to stem from the bountiful unity of oneself; through mind, body, and spirit connecting. Yoga breaks down to mean union. The union that takes place most typically is with oneself.
The word tantric breaks down from Sanskrit to articulate into the modern interpretations of “to expand” and “to weave”. Tantric yoga is a variation of yoga. Yoga means union, and tantric comes from expanding or weaving, so tantric yoga is essentially living in an experience of weaved or expanded union.
With this understanding of tantric yoga, and where its articulation originally blossomed from we understand tantric yoga as a bridging practice of yoga where we can deeply connect to a partner. Both partners slow their energy bringing it into the present moment, synchronizing the mind, body, and spirit. Presence extends, or expands outwards and weaves together with the partner. There is a bonding of emotion, a bonding of mental energy, a bonding of awareness, and consciousness. This type of deep, deep connection breeds intense intimacy and oneness. Together, you and your partner move through a variety of poses, exercises, and movements all while staying attentive to your breath and their breath.
It is highly usual that the two of you will lock and engage your eyes together. Through maintaining a strong stare into each other's eyes you ensure a deeper bridge of connection. The combination of deep stares into each other's souls, consciousness, with mindful breathing, and synchronized movements creates a bond that is well understood to transcend the material realm of matter and bring you both seemingly into another dimension. This is a dimension where mainly soul, awareness, and pure consciousness exist. It streams abundantly into our moment, and into our lives from here on out.
Why Practice Tantric Yoga?
Many people who are having difficulties in their relationships seek out the practice of tantric yoga, and teachers who could help repair and build a deeper connection between them and their loved one. The world is a busy place when living amidst the societies within or surrounding cities, both urban and suburban lifestyles. There are struggles of trying to survive and sustain shelter, pay insurance, taxes, cell phone bills, internet bills, commute and transportation, and ensuring there is food on the table.
These struggles create anxieties, worries, and depression. The struggles stress us out, and those conditions can overwhelm us within the world of material experience. We can experience a lack of creativity, or stifled creativity. We can experience difficulty communicating and a lack of internal stability. These experiences lead us to have less intimate bonds with others because they lead us to have less intimate bonds within and towards ourselves. These difficult experiences of intimacy and connection, with ourselves and others, lead us right toward why yoga and “Tantric Yoga” specifically are remarkable practices to incorporate into our lives. Let's connect with those that mean the most to us, especially ourselves.
What Are the Benefits of Tantric Yoga?
The special thing about tantric yoga is that it benefits more than just you. It is a practice meant to bring two souls closer together mentally, spiritually, and sexually. There are three main areas of focus:
- Increasing energy and pleasure
- Increasing intimacy
- Quieting the mind
There are certain techniques for increasing energy and pleasure that you can do individually. These techniques are what Charles Muir - probably the best-known teacher of Western Tantra - calls "White Tantra". The other techniques involve joining your energy with your partner's, and Muir refers to these as "Red Tantra".
Charles says that his tips for fostering intimacy allow lovers to increase their ability to give and receive each other's energy. He adds that a big part of this is to let go and allow yourself to be who you naturally are. Instead of trying to do more, do less. All of these techniques culminate in the quieting of the mind. Muir teaches his students to cultivate the mind's capacity for being completely quiet and receptive. "Ultimately, Tantra is a meditation," Muir notes. "In fact, orgasm is the only universally shared meditative experience, the one that cuts across all cultures. At the moment of orgasm, you're not in your thinking brain, you're in your receptive, being brain; when you're completely absorbed in the present, you enter into timelessness."
Charles Muir and his wife Caroline like to include sexual education in their teachings. More accurately, they like to include the lack of sexual education most Westerners receive compared to the more respectful, celebratory, and unconflicted attitudes they attribute to ancient Indian culture. As Westerners, it's true that the media and society shape our view of sexuality from a young age with conflicting messages. The Muirs teachings of tantra try to eliminate those preconceived notions about sex and aim to treat it in a totally different manner.
Today our youth receives conflicting messages like "sex is dirty" and then "save it for the one you love". It's hard not to be somewhat confused about sex as a young person. The basis of Tantra offers an escape from all of these deeply rooted ideas that we have as modern-day Westerners. Indians revered sexuality as a holy gift from the creator, regarding sex as both a sacrament and an art form. They would celebrate sex in their art and teach its secrets to their children. Sex was used not just to join two lovers, but as a meditation through which the lovers could unite with the divine energy of the universe. You can see how different this is from the modern view of sexuality in our culture. Tantric yoga is, in part, learning how to make sex sacred again.
Interesting Facts about Tantric Yoga
While many people may think of sex when they think of tantric yoga, this ancient practice is much more than that. It's a powerful combination of asana, mantra, mudra, bandha (energy lock) and chakra (energy center) work that you can use to build strength, clarity, and bliss in everyday life. In Hinduism, Shakti is the female deity that represents creativity and change. By harnessing and embodying the five forces of Shakti, tantric yoga suggests we can move through the world with more confidence and contentment.
The whole ethos of tantra is connectivity, and there are many ways to achieve that. There are also many disciplines that can fall under being tantric. Tantra's purpose is to integrate all forms of life, so nearly anything can be tantric if used for that purpose, from yoga to astrology. Yoga is a key part of the variations of tantra. It involves both the physical practice, which is focused on subtle body movements and a spiritual practice. Not all tantric yoga involves sexuality, however. There are many tantric yoga practices that would not be considered sexual. Whether sexual or not, often the aim of these practices is to break down separations and establish oneness - with yourself, your partner, and the divine.
The words tantric yoga probably make a lot of people think about sex. They wouldn't be entirely wrong, but the whole practice is much more than a way to spice up your sex life. The ancient practice values oneness and intimacy with yourself, your partner, and the divine. Only once you are clear with yourself about who you are, can you be content with yourself. And only once you are content with yourself can you truly share yourself with a partner and have the capacity to receive your partner's soul.
Once you both are completely clear and open to each other you invite the divine spirit of the universe into your relationship. Tantric yoga has the power to enhance the spirituality, sexuality, and openness of your relationship. While being known to improve the sex lives of couples, tantric yoga offers much more than that.