It’s inevitable when you ask someone what they think the word Tantra is, the answer is almost always sex. Is Tantra the same as Tantric sex? Read on as we dispel some myths and break down the difference between Tantra and Tantric sex.
In Western popular culture, Tantra comes up from time to time. There was Sting’s notorious interview in the ‘90s in which he referenced endless orgasms and Tantric sex, piquing the interest of fans everywhere. There was also a spectacularly funny episode of Sex and the City in which the four main characters attended a seminar on Tantric lingam massage. These representations, and others, are overly simplistic and overlook the intensity and potential of Tantra and modern Tantric sex.
What is Tantra?
Tantra is an ancient spiritual practice from India still practised today. Particularly misunderstood in the west, Tantra tends to be a loaded term due to oversimplification and misunderstanding of its concepts. Luckily, you do not need to be a full-time Tantric practitioner or associated with any related religions that spawned Tantra, such as Buddhism or Hinduism. Historically, the term Tantra refers to sacred texts regarding physical, mental and emotional wellness, spiritual values, sexual expression, and the connection between the human and the divine. Therefore, Tantric practice is the intentional lived experience as decreed by these texts.
Tantra: a tale as old as time
Tantra evolved in the 5th and 6th centuries in India. An entire Tantric culture was recorded and practised by spiritual leaders. Tantra has its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism and began as a way to reclaim and re-engage with ancient practices that contemporary Hinduism of the time had denounced. Tantric texts arose as an esoteric philosophy considered sexually liberated, feminist and progressive. But, like so many spiritual systems and philosophies, a significant schism existed within Tantra. This schism broke ancient Tantric philosophy into two camps.
The Dakshina marga, or “right-hand” Tantric practitioners
The Dakshina marga were considered more peaceful and “pure” practitioners of Tantra. They used ritual, visualisation, chanting, and breathwork. Still, they stayed within the mainstream values of the day (vegetarian, nonviolent, sexually moral, no alcohol and drugs, no sexual rituals, observed purity laws, etc.). The worldview of the Dakshina marga was largely positive and peaceful, encouraging people to learn to observe their divinity, their connection to all life on earth and to use their minds and bodies to transcend the pain and tragedy of human experience. In short, the right-hand path looked much like what we think of Tantra today.
The Vamachara, or “left-hand” Tantric practitioners
The Vamachara were considered the more gauche Tantric followers, preferring a more counter-culture approach. (They were called the left-handed Tantric practitioners because, in India, one eats with their right hand but uses their left hand to wipe themselves.) The practices they embraced included meat-eating, animal and human sacrifice, alcohol and hallucinogens, the worship of violent deities, magic, and ritual sex. Even Tantras contain instructions for potions and magical practices that recommend rape and ritual incest in exchange for a spiritual reward.
The complex history of the Vamachara doesn’t end there. These darker Tantras clearly state that the ‘ideal woman’ is “young and beautiful”. Sadly, this referred to social outcasts or prostitutes, women who could be bought or abducted without repercussions. The Vamachara believed that by engaging in illegal practices, one could transcend dualistic thought, tap into hidden power sources to unite with the divine, gain physical vitality, or even achieve immortality.
What is modern or Neo-Tantra?
Tantra in the twenty-first century, particularly in the western world, is better described as neoTantra. This refers to the ‘ white washed’ and commodified version of Tantra That we are familiar with. Tantra has become its subcategory in exercise, health, and spiritual Industries, making it a big business in the West. It may not constitute as major an appropriation as yoga, but Tantra has been borrowed and bastardised from its Homeland. Modern Tantric practice moderately emulates the ancient right-hand path of Tantra. go Tantra focuses on bringing balance and harmony to one’s life, as well as intentionality and emotional investment in sex as an integral part of being human.
What is Tantric sex?
When we talked about Tantric sex, we are referring to an attitude or State of Mind surrounding sex and sexuality that reflects the positivity and sensual self-knowledge that the ancient right-hand path of Tantra spells out. Modern Tantra has let go of the religious and moral aspects that it began with. Modern Tantra is considered somewhat alternative and indulgent, but it is also a legitimate modality of sexual healing and human intimacy.
The the Tantric sex difference
We have established that Tantric sex is just one part of the greater system of Tantra. It is an integral part of Tantric practice and is easily translatable to anyone’s belief system or lifestyle. So what makes Tantric sex so different? The most basic terms of modern Tantric sex focus on intimacy and pleasure, true breathwork, bodywork, meditation, and mindfulness. Tantric sex requires those involved to be physically and mentally present in a way that standard sexual practice in the west does not require. Judeo-Christian morality and puritanism is the model for modern sexuality. These concepts are antithetical to Tantra. For most people, discovering Tantra is like opening the door to a new way of being sexual. It is often regarded as a more free-spirited and authentic approach to sex, giving it the reputation for intimacy and emotional healing properties.
Giving or getting a tantric massage is the most accessible avenue into any Tantric practice.
Tantric touch/massage is:
It asks that we consider our human bodies as divine vessels of pleasure and vehicles to connect us to the divine. Tantric touch and massage need not be strictly sexual. It can be a wonderful way to connect with your partner and express your desire, focus, and love to them.
Clear communication throughout Tantric sex is essential to the experience. This communication can be verbal, nonverbal, or achieved through synchronised breathing and extensive eye contact. Tantric sex is interpreted through tease and denial type ‘edging’, prolonging or avoiding orgasms, and multiple ongoing climaxes. because Tantric sex sessions can be lengthy, clear communication and understanding are essential between partners. Like many things, Tantric sex gives back what is put into it, and the more you work at it, the more remarkable the results will become.
Modern Tantra emphasises intimacy and sex, but the definition of sex in Tantra is not limited to intercourse. Traditionally the Tantras were written in response to ideas of binary energy systems and the balance to be achieved within them. This refers to good and evil, male and female, etc. As a modern person in the modern world, these binaries may not be completely comfortable. This is one of the ways that modern Tantra leans away from its historical roots and embraces a more contemporary approach. Intimacy is a challenging topic for many couples. Modern Tantra reframes intimacy as the co-mingling and exchange of energy achieved through mindful meditation, sensual touch and sacred sex.
Who is Tantric sex appropriate for?
One of the major misconceptions about Tantric sex is that it is overly gymnastic and athletic. This is partly because of its association with the Kama Sutra, an Ancient text depicting numerous Tantric sex positions. Many of these images describe couples in highly flexible positions, some of which don’t seem possible. modern Tantric sex leans into the variety offered by the Kama Sutra but does not require meticulous replication of the techniques.
Intention vs Technique
Your physical condition or ability is no reason not to try Tantric sex. Introducing Tantric practices in your sex life can be as simple as making more eye contact, taking me four play more slowly, or including erotic massage and your sex play. At times Tantric sex positions can seem overwrought or overly complicated. if the positions are not conducive to your ability, make any necessary adjustments. For instance, a position like the yab-yum position requires one partner to sit in the cross-legged lap of the other while you maintain eye contact, synchronised breathing, and deep penetration. If any part of this position is too difficult or impossible for you, adopt it as needed. The intention and focus will ultimately be more important than the exact positioning of your bodies.
Trust is necessary
Tantric sex is a great way to add variety and interest to your sex life. It is about connecting with your partner and being present at the moment. Tantra maximises pleasure through communication and trust. If you are experiencing a rut or a lack of romantic or sexual energy, introducing some Tantric sex techniques could be a solution. As with all recommendations for sex and intimacy, take what works for you and leave the rest.
Try these Tantric sex techniques at home
If you have never successfully meditated, it can be hard to understand how it helps in a sexual Tantric context. Put, meditation is a direct route to intimacy. Using meditation as part of your Tantric sex practice will help prepare both your mind and body. This is because meditation actively slows down the body’s stress response systems. Meditation also requires slow and thoughtful breathing and is a great opportunity to synchronise your breath with your partner. By focusing on meditation, you can help prepare yourself for the vulnerability and intensity of intimacy with your partner. Before things get hot and sexy, take a few minutes to sit together, breathe, and centre yourselves. Start an intimate or sexual encounter with your partner with a clear head and an open heart to make intimacy much more possible.
This is a simple technique that you can use almost anytime and anywhere. You can do this whenever and wherever you need to feel reconnected.
How to breathe together
- sit with your partner facing each other across legged
- take each other’s left hands and hold them in your laps
- place your right hands on each other’s hearts
- look into each other’s eyes and begin to previous 2
- inhale through the nose slowly for a count of 8
- exhale at the same rate through your mouth also for a count of 8
- repeat this cycle four more times for a total of 5 in and out breaths
As you look into each other’s eyes, tell each other what you love or appreciate. Positive affirmation as you sync your breathing will skyrocket your intimacy.
Yab Yum Position
Even if you know nothing about Tantra or Tantric sex, the yab-yum position is probably familiar to you. This intimate position is simply an extension of the position you use to sync your breathing (as mentioned above). Typically, the yab-yum position includes penetration, but that is not a requisite. How you and your partner define sex is up to you, Penetration is not necessary for this position to be beneficial. The magic of yab-yum comes from the closeness of your bodies and the eye contact.
How to yab-yum
- Partner 1 sits on the bed or floor, supported by cushions as needed
- Partner 2 stands over their lap and slowly lowers themselves down into a sitting position wrapping their legs around partner 1
- wrap your arms around each other and put your foreheads together to sync up your breathing
This position is wonderful because both Partner’s hands are free, and there’s lots of room for touching each other, kissing, and looking into each other’s eyes. Be careful with your breath. Even if you have somewhat rigorous penetration in this position, keep your breathing slow, regular, and synchronised.
Tantra is so much more than sex
You know that you have a better understanding of what Tantra is and how it is so much more than sex. Hopefully, you can see value in adding Tantric elements to your sex life and intimacy. For some, this may seem like new-age mumbo jumbo, but Tantra has truly stood the test of time. You may not think that your life has much in common with such an agent and spiritual practice, but upon further inspection, you may see that Tantra has something for everyone.
Apply your learning
Whether or not you apply Tantric practices to your lifestyle is up to you. If incorporating Tantric practice into your relationship seems overwhelming, you can always look to the Professionals for support. Here at Secret Tantric, we offer an incredible tantra massages. There’s no better way to learn new techniques and create a new intimacy with your partner. Book your session with one of our beautiful masseuses today!
- Tantric Sex Explained
- Tantra for Sexual Healing and Improved Intimacy
- Beginners Tantric Sex Positions to Try
- Spice Up Your Sex Life with Tantra!
- Tantra: An Introduction to Sacred Sexuality