Nepalese Tantric yogin

Tantrism is the belief in the Tantra (from the Sanskrit, context or continuum), a collection of texts that stress the usefulness of rituals, carried out with a strict discipline, as a means for attaining understanding and spiritual awakening. These rituals include chanting powerful mantras; meditating on complicated or auspicious diagrams (mandalas); and, for one school of advanced practitioners, deliberately violating social norms on food, drink, and sexual relations. * [Source: Library of Congress]

According to shivashakti.com: “Tantra, or more properly tantrika, is a diverse and rich spiritual tradition of the Indian sub-continent. Although in recent years, in the Western world, it has become almost exclusively associated with sex, in reality this is one aspect of what is a way of life. In India itself, tantra is now, nearly always, associated with spells and black deeds. Neither of these views is correct, and each wildly underestimates the wide-ranging nature of the different traditions. Further, there remains an ocean of tantrik and agamic literature still to be discovered and translated, spanning a period of time which at least reaches back to the 10th century, [Source: shivashakti.com *]

The tradition, or perhaps better, the traditions, underwent many phases and schools over this period of time, ranging from an extremely heterodox viewpoint to, in some cases, a very orthodox standpoint. The Kaula tradition alone has many guises. The work kaula is cognate with clan and the communities venerated a huge number of gods (devas) and goddesses (devis) and includes yantra, mantra, tantra and other material relating to some of the different traditions; texts on the siddhas, gurus and yogis of the Natha sampradaya including Gorakhnath, Matsyendranath and Dattatreya; much about kundalini, nadis, chakras; images of tantric kula devas (gods) and devis (goddesses) including Kali, Tripura, Shiva, Ganesha, Cchinnamasta, Durga and Tara; pujas and practices; meditations and dharanas; the inner meaning of kaulachara, vamachara and svecchacharya.

Websites and Resources on Meditation and Tantrism: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Encyclopædia Britannica article britannica.com ; Erowid Meditation Vault erowid.org ; Learn to Meditate learn-to-meditate.com ; Yoga Journal: Meditation yogajournal.com/meditation ; National Institutes of Health, US government, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation ; How to do Zazen (Zen Buddhist Meditation) global.sotozen-net.or.jp ; George Feuerstein, Yoga and Meditation (Dhyana) santosha.com/moksha/meditation ; Tibetan Buddhist Meditation tricycle.org/magazine/tibetan-buddhist-meditation ; Vipassanā (Theravada Buddhist Meditation) Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Gray, David B. (Apr 2016). "Tantra and the Tantric Traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. oxfordre.com/religion ; Tantra: An Analysis (in Hinduism), Damien McDonald (2007) digitalcommons.unf.edu

Emergence of Tantric Ideas in Medieval India

During the medieval era (A.D. 500-1500), different schools of Hinduism emerged. Bhakti worship developed as a spiritual pathway that focused on living through love and devotion toward God. Tantrism (Tantra) emerged and began to influence medieval Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu traditions around the A.D. 5th century. New goals also emerged: “No longer is the practitioner’s ultimate goal liberation from suffering existence, but rather self-deification: one becomes the deity that has ben one’s object of meditation.” Some of the sexual aspects of Tantrism date back to this time. Some Tantric yogis had sexual relations with low-caste women whom they believed were yoginis, or women who embodied Tantric goddesses. The belief was that having sex with them could lead these yogis to a transcendent level of consciousness. [Source: Lecia Bushak, Medical Daily, October 21, 2015]

Ayspicious Tantra of All-Reaching Union

David Gordon White, a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote: “In a universe that is nothing other than the flow of divine consciousness, raising one’s consciousness to the level of god-consciousness—that is, attaining a god’s-eye view that sees the universe as internal to one’s own transcendent Self—is tantamount to becoming divine. A primary means to this end is the detailed visualization of the deity with which one will ultimately identify: his or her form, face(s), color, attributes, entourage, and so on. So, for example, in the yoga of the Hindu Pāncarātra sect, a practitioner’s meditation on successive emanations of the god Visnu culminates in his realization of the state of “consisting in god” (Rastelli 2009: 299–317). The Tantric Buddhist cognate to this is “deity yoga” (devayoga), whereby the practitioner meditatively assumes the attributes and creates the environment (i.e., the Buddha world) of the Buddha-deity he or she is about to become. [Source: David Gordon White, “Yoga, Brief History of an Idea”]

“In fact, the term yoga has a wide variety of connotations in the Tantras. It can simply mean “practice” or “discipline” in a very broad sense, covering all of the means at one’s disposal to realize one’s goals. It can also refer to the goal itself: “conjunction,” “union,” or identity with divine consciousness. Indeed, the Mālinīvijayottara Tantra, an important ninth-century Śākta-Śaiva Tantra, uses the term yoga to denote its entire soteriological system (Vasudeva 2004). In Buddhist Tantra—whose canonical teachings are divided into the exoteric Yoga Tantras and the increasingly esoteric Higher Yoga Tantras, Supreme Yoga Tantras, Unexcelled (or Unsurpassed) Yoga Tantras, and Yoginī Tantras— yoga has the dual sense of both the means and ends of practice. Yoga can also have the more particular, limited sense of a program of meditation or visualization, as opposed to ritual (kriyā) or gnostic (jnāna) practice. However, these categories of practice often bleed into one another. Finally, there are specific types of yogic discipline, such as the Netra Tantra’s transcendent and subtle yogas, already discussed.

“Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Tantra—and with it, Buddhist Tantric Yoga—developed in lockstep with Hindu Tantra, with a hierarchy of revelations ranging from earlier, exoteric systems of practice to the sex- and death-laden imagery of later esoteric pantheons, in which horrific skull-wielding Buddhas were surrounded by the same yoginīs as their Hindu counterparts, the Bhairavas of the esoteric Hindu Tantras. In the Buddhist Unexcelled Yoga Tantras, “six-limbed yoga” comprised the visualization practices that facilitated the realization of one’s innate identity with the deity [Wallace]. But rather than simply being a means to an end in these traditions, yoga was also primarily an end in itself: yoga was “union” or identity with the celestial Buddha named Vajrasattva—the “Diamond Essence (of Enlightenment),” that is, one’s Buddha nature. However, the same Tantras of the Diamond Path (Vajrayāna) also implied that the innate nature of that union rendered the conventional practices undertaken for its realization ultimately irrelevant.”

Tantric yanta

“Here, one can speak of two principal styles of Tantric Yoga, which coincide with their respective metaphysics. The former, which recurs in the earliest Tantric traditions, involves exoteric practices: visualization, generally pure ritual offerings, worship, and the use of mantras. The dualist metaphysics of these traditions maintains that there is an ontological difference between god and creature, which can gradually be overcome through concerted effort and practice. The latter, esoteric, traditions develop out of the former even as they reject much of exoteric theory and practice. In these systems, esoteric practice, involving the real or symbolic consumption of forbidden substances and sexual transactions with forbidden partners, is the fast track to self-deification.”

“In the exoteric Tantras, visualization, ritual offerings, worship, and the use of mantras were the means to the gradual realization of one’s identity with the absolute. In later, esoteric traditions, however, the expansion of consciousness to a divine level was instantaneously triggered through the consumption of forbidden substances: semen, menstrual blood, feces, urine, human flesh, and the like. Menstrual or uterine blood, which was considered to be the most powerful among these forbidden substances, could be accessed through sexual relations with female Tantric consorts. Variously called yoginīs, dākinīs, or dūtīs, these were ideally low-caste human women who were considered to be possessed by, or embodiments of, Tantric goddesses. In the case of the yoginīs, these were the same goddesses as those that ate their victims in the practice of “transcendent yoga.” Whether by consuming the sexual emissions of these forbidden women or through the bliss of sexual orgasm with them, Tantric yogis could “blow their minds” and realize a breakthrough into transcendent levels of consciousness. Once again, yogic consciousness-raising doubled with the physical rise of the yogi’s body through space, in this case in the embrace of the yoginī or dākinī who, as an embodied goddess, was possessed of the power of flight. It was for this reason that the medieval yoginī temples were roofless: they were the yoginīs’ landing fields and launching pads.

Yogis In Early Tantric Yoga

White wrote: “In many Tantras, such as the eighth-century CE Matangapārameśvarāgama of the Hindu Śaivasiddhānta school, this visionary ascent became actualized in the practitioner’s rise through the levels of the universe until, arriving at the highest void, the supreme deity Sadāśiva conferred his own divine rank upon him (Sanderson 2006: 205–6). It is in such a context—of a graded hierarchy of stages or states of consciousness, with corresponding deities, mantras, and cosmological levels—that the Tantras innovated the construct known as the “subtle body” or “yogic body.” Here, the practitioner’s body became identified with the entire universe, such that all of the processes and transformations occurring to his body in the world were now described as occurring to a world inside his body. [Source: David Gordon White, “Yoga, Brief History of an Idea”]

Goddess Bhadrakali worshipped, from a tantric Devi series

“While the breath channels (nādīs) of yogic practice had already been discussed in the classical Upanisads, it was not until such Tantric works as the eighth-century Buddhist Hevajra Tantra and Caryāgīti that a hierarchy of inner energy centers—variously called cakras (“circles,” “wheels”), padmas (“lotuses”), or pīthas (“mounds”)—were introduced. These early Buddhist sources only mention four such centers aligned along the spinal column, but in the centuries that follow, Hindu Tantras such as the Kubjikāmata and Kaulajnānanirnaya would expand that number to five, six, seven, eight, and more. The so-called classical hierarchy of seven cakras—ranging from the mūlādhāra at the level of the anus to the sahasrāra in the cranial vault, replete with color coding, fixed numbers of petals linked to the names of yoginīs, the graphemes and phonemes of the Sanskrit alphabet—was a still later development. So too was the introduction of the kundalinī, the female Serpent Energy coiled at the base of the yogic body, whose awakening and rapid rise effects the practitioner’s inner transformation.

“Given the wide range of applications of the term yoga in the Tantras, the semantic field of the term “yogi” is relatively circumscribed. Yogis who forcefully take over the bodies of other creatures are the villains of countless medieval accounts, including the tenth- to eleventh-century Kashmirian Kathāsaritsāgara (“Ocean of Rivers of Story,” which contains the famous Vetālapancavimśati— the “Twenty-five Tales of the Zombie”) and the Yogavāsistha.

“In the seventh-century farce entitled Bhagavadajjukīya, the “Tale of the Saint Courtesan,” a yogi who briefly occupies the body of a dead prostitute is cast as a comic figure. Well into the twentieth century, the term yogi continued to be used nearly exclusively to refer to a Tantric practitioner who opted for this-worldly self-aggrandizement over disembodied liberation. Tantric yogis specialize in esoteric practices, often carried out in cremation grounds, practices that often verge on black magic and sorcery. Once again, this was, overwhelmingly, the primary sense of the term “yogi” in pre-modern Indic traditions: nowhere prior to the seventeenth century do we find it applied to persons seated in fixed postures, regulating their breath or entering into meditative states.”

Cryptic Nature of Tantrism

Tibetan tantric art

According to shivashakti.com: “Although some tantras appear at first glance to be straightforward, most, if not all of them, employ a type of language which can be taken on many levels. According to the tradition, everything has a gross, a subtle and a supreme meaning and as the Devi is the goddess of letters, she can bewilder with her Maya as well as enlighten. Many terms used in the tantrik tradition have meanings which can be taken at face value but do not always have this meaning, thus making them difficult to understand to the literally-minded. The mentality of the pashu, or a person with a herd-disposition, is said to predispose him or her to misunderstand the meaning. [Source: shivashakti.com *]

“This cryptic way of speaking pervades many of the texts. Should a cremation ground, for instance, be understood as the yoni, as the real place where corpses are burnt, or as a symbol for the Absolute? The answer may be all three. Is a crossroad a symbol of the five elements, the place where roads meet, or four centres within the human body? Again, it may have one or any of these meanings. And is the union of Shiva and Shakti the symbol of sexual intercourse, the union of vital breaths within the body or an eclipse? *\

“We can probably find the answers to these questions by going to the root philosophy of the tantrik traditions. There is no Shiva without Shakti and yoga is a realisation of the unity of all things. That is not to say that everything in tantrik texts is figurative; many describe practices which are said to bring about this realisation. It is also important to remember that legends and stories within the tradition may be intended to appeal to parts of the human mind which are not solely connected with logic. For example, in the Tripurarahasya (secrets of Tripura), a wonderful work available in an English translation, much of the teaching and practical philosophy of the tradition is told in story form, easy to digest but pregnant with meaning. *\

Different Types of Tantric Traditions

According to shivashakti.com: “ Very broadly speaking, tantras fall into traditions belonging to greater or lesser schools. The Kali tradition, for example, has a large literature and there are specific areas in India where her worship is concentrated. The Lalita, or Shri Vidya tradition, also has a very extensive literature, much of which is still unplumbed. The Natha Sampradayas or lines relate to sects said to have originated mostly from Matsyendranath and Gorakhanath, and occupy an important position in the yoga schools of the mediaeval period.” [Source: shivashakti.com *]


“Modern scholars have attempted to cut this Gordian knot, but the lines are blurred and it is sometimes impossible to tell where one school or tradition ends, and another begins. One of the best attempts to classify the broad group of texts currently available was made by Jan Gonda in the History of Indian Literature (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1977). The chapters of this work look at the various texts under the heading of Agamas, Vishnuism, Bhakti movements, Pancharatra, Vaikhanasa, Shivaism, Shaivite Agamas, individual Agamas, works of yogic schools such as the Nathas; Pashupatas; Dattatreya bhaktas, Stotra literature and miscellaneous works including gitas (songs) and other works of the like. This is a valiant and heroic attempt to look at a large number of texts still in existence.*\

“Hindu Tantrism, compiled and edited by Teun Goudriaan, Dirk Jan Hoens and Sanjukta Gupta, specifically looks at Hindu tantrik literature, classifying it into tantras of the Shri Kula, the Kali Kula, and also dealing with "magical" tantras, mantra shastra Vaishnava tantras and tantras ascribed to other sects. This work looks at contemporary tantrik literature in modern Indian languages, such as Hindi and Bengali. (Brill, Leyden 1979). *\

Right-Handed and Left-Handed Tantrism

Tantrics usually can be divided into two distinct groups — 1) the right hand tantrism of Sri Aurobindo and Pandit Gopi Krishna; and 2) Lefthand tantrism promoted by Swami Satyananda Saraswati whose students were active in the West. This distinction is based on the idea that original self-existent gods were supposed to divide themselves into male and female energies, the male half occupying the right-hand and the female the left-hand side.

In contrast to the ascetic, world-denying approach to religious life, Tantra offers enlightenment through the use of the material world rather than its denial. Tantric practice accepts things that are specifically denied to ascetics as a means of overcoming the world and achieving enlightenment. The right-hand path does this symbolically, while the left-hand path actually consumes denied food and participates in denied activities. Sexual activity is the most controversial aspect of Tantra, and tantrics have often been criticized for it. The left-hand path of Tantra involves using sexual intercourse as a means of union with the goddess.

According to shivashakti.com: “Many modern commentators define tantrik practice -- Hindu tantrik practice that is -- in terms of the so-called Right Hand (dakshinachara) and Left Hand (vamachara) rites they perform. Under this attempt at classification, the latter belong to schools in which rites such as the panchatattva have a place; sexuality being a core part of these rituals. So-called Right Handed Schools are said to use either ritual substitutes or to eschew these practices completely. Even this isn't as straightforward as it seems. For example, there is a major school of the Shri Vidya tradition, the Samayachara, which goes out of its way to roundly condemn any such practices, will not even contemplate meditating on chakras below the navel such as the Muladhara and Svadisthana, and even worship the yantra with the apex pointing upwards to avoid giving the impression that the symbol or the goddess may have anything to do with sexuality. *\

Shaktas and Tantrism

Of the three main branches of Hinduism, the most esoteric is the Shaktas. They worship Shakti as the female principle and as a creative and reproductive agency. Each of the main Hindu gods possesses his own Shakti, through which his creative acts are performed. The Shaktas are closely linked with the Tantrics, who developed an intricate understanding of the subtle anatomy of the individual. They proposed that each person has a secondary body composed of spiritual and psychic energies. In Tantra, sexual energy is manifested in the yogi as kundalini, a psycho-physiological force that rests like a coiled snake at the base of the spine. When awakened, the kundalini travels up the spine to several psychic centers called chakras and eventually to the top of the head. The ascent of the kundalini to the highest chakra leads to elevated consciousness and spiritual enlightenment. [Source: Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Gale Group Inc., 2001]

The introduction to the Saundarya Lahari, (The Ocean of Beauty) says;"The votaries of the Shakti, the Kundalini, may be roughly divided into two classes: the Samayin-s or those who believe in the sameness of the Shakti and the Shiva, and the Kaula-s or those who worship the Kaulini, the sleeping Kundalini, i.e. the Shakti, which resides in the Muladhara, which is known as the Kula-plexus...The Kaula-s.. worship the Kundalini, even without rousing her from sleep and are satisfied with the attainment and enjoyment of purely temporal objects, believing, at the same time, that with the rousing of the Kundalini, they attain liberation." *\

Ankh chakras

“Sir John Woodroffe, who under the pen name Arthur Avalon translated several tantrik texts, and wrote other books on the subject in the early 20th century, tends to another classification, to which he constantly returns -- that of divyas (divine), viras (heroes) and pashus (the herd). It is only in virasadhana, or work relating to sadhana in the heroic mode, that lata sadhana, that is to say sexuality, has a place. Yet even this is not a rule. Indeed, some tantras, such as the Brihad Nila Tantra, advocate a type of worship called Mahachinachara, which appears to have no rules whatever. *\

“The traditions in different parts of the large sub-continent may vary widely. Woodroffe seems to have learnt from a number of Bengali tantriks and pandits, and his books are coloured by these views. The 10 Mahavidyas popular in Bengal, and other parts of India, for example, do not form any kind of a rule. In the Kashmir tradition, while Kalika may be hailed as the Adya Shakti, her forms in works such as the Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta and the Chidgaganachandrika, entirely differ in name and image from Dakshina Kalika, the Kamakala Kalika, and other of her forms encountered in many Bengali texts.” *\

“Cults have grown up around local deities, or around the Big Five Indian deities: Shiva, Shakti, Ganapati, Vishnu and Surya (the Sun). In this latter division, there are many sub-sects, schools and divisions, "innumerable", as Devi says in the Kulachudamani Tantra. Many of the texts describe themselves as dialogues between Shiva and Shakti, yet other sects, schools and traditions may say that this is pure delusion.

Tantric Rituals

According to shivashakti.com: “Some works which describe themselves as tantras are, quite simply, collections of spells. One, calling itself the Dattatreya Tantra after the famous guru figure of India, is roughly comparable to mediaeval Western grimoires. You won't find much or anything in there about yoga, spirituality or any type of inner search. The Hindu tantrik divisions, nevertheless, do have one thing in common and that is the importance of the guru - one with the Devi, the Deva and ultimately the disciple or shishya. This, of course, has led to abuses and misunderstandings of its own. While many of the tantrik texts prescribe the qualifications of both guru and disciple, the truth is that an aspirant is really on her or his own. [Source: shivashakti.com *]

Dancing Bhadrakai adored by the Gods

Many scholars define Hindu tantrik practice in terms of the so-called Right Hand (dakshinachara) and Left Hand (vamachara) rites they perform. Under this attempt at classification, the latter belong to schools in which rites such as the panchatattva have a place; sexuality being a core part of these rituals. So-called Right Handed Schools are said to use either ritual substitutes or to eschew these practices completely.

Georg Feuerstein, in his book “Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy” (Shambhala, 1998), wrote: "At one end of the Tantric spectrum we have highly unorthodox practices such as black magic that go against the moral grain of Hindu society (and that of most societies). At the other end we have Tantric masters who decry all doctrines and all rituals and instead applaud the ideal of perfect spontaneity (sahaja). Most schools fall between these two poles; they are typically highly ritualistic but infused with the recognition that liberation springs from wisdom, which is innate and therefore cannot be produced by any external means."

Tantric Sex

Tantric sex, known as Neotantra or navatantra, is a modern, western variation of tantra often associated with new religious movements. This includes both New Age and modern Western interpretations of traditional Hindu and Buddhist tantra. Some of its proponents refer to ancient and traditional texts and principles, and many others use tantra as a catch-all phrase for "sacred sexuality", and may incorporate unorthodox practices. In addition, not all of the elements of Indian tantric practices are used in neotantra, in particular the reliance on a guru. For many modern readers Tantra is now synonymous with "spiritual sex" or "sacred sexuality," a belief that sex should be recognized as a sacred act capable of elevating its participants to a higher spiritual plane. [Source: Wikipedia +]

Sir John George Woodroffe, also known by his pseudonym Arthur Avalon, was a British Orientalist whose work helped to unleash in the West a deep and wide interest in Hindu philosophy and Yogic practices. Alongside his judicial duties he studied Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy and was especially interested in Hindu Tantra. He translated some twenty original Sanskrit texts and published and lectured prolifically on Indian philosophy and a wide range of Yoga and Tantra topics. Woodroffe's The Serpent Power – The Secrets of Tantric and Shaktic Yoga, is a source for many modern Western adaptations of Kundalini yoga practice. It is a philosophically sophisticated commentary on, and translation of, the Satcakra-nirupana ("Description of and Investigation into the Six Bodily Centres") of Purnananda (dated around AD 1550) and the Paduka-Pancaka ("Five-fold Footstool of the Guru"). The term "Serpent Power" refers to the kundalini, an energy said to be released within an individual by meditation techniques. +

Chinnamasta Shiva

Pierre Bernard was a pioneering American yogi, scholar, occultist, philosopher, mystic, and businessman. He claimed to have traveled to Kashmir and Bengal before founding the Tantrik Order of America in 1905. Bernard is widely credited with being the first American to introduce the philosophy and practices of yoga and tantra to the American people. He also played a critical role in establishing a greatly exaggerated association of tantra with the use of sex for mystical purposes in the American mindset. Many teachers of this version of tantra believe that sex and sexual experiences are sacred acts, which are capable of elevating their participants to a higher spiritual plane. They often talk about raising Kundalini energy, worshiping the divine feminine, activating the chakras. In this context, the word "tantra", generally refers to the set of techniques for cultivating a more fulfilling sexual or loving relationship. +

Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as Osho, used his version of tantra in combination with breathing techniques, bio-energy, yoga, and massage in some of the groups at his ashram. One of Osho's students, Margot Anand, founded a school called "Skydancing" tantra. Another modern tantrika is Daniel Odier who believes that desire can be a valid pathway to transcendence. Sexologists, porn star and mother of Yoni massage Annie Sprinkle and Joseph Kramer and father of Lingham massage are two examples of practitioners who teach sacred erotic massage. +

Agehananda Bharati in his “The Tantric Tradition” (Rider & Co, 1965) insisted that sexual contact was the main point of tantrism, whether Buddhist or Hindu. He wrote: "The central sadhana of tantrism, Buddhist and Hindu alike, is the exercise of sexual contact under tantric 'laboratory' conditions. It is irrelevant, in the final analysis, whether these sadhanas were or are literally performed, or whether they are hypostasized entirely into mental configurations."

Men’s Journal and Cosmopolitan Guide to Tantric Sex

Taylor Kubota wrote in Men’s Journal: “You probably associate Tantric sex with unbridled sexuality, day-long lovemaking sessions, incense, and flowing robes. Not exactly. Tantric sex is part of Tantra, an ancient Indian tradition that influenced both Hinduism and Buddhism. "[Tantric practices] assist in quieting the mind and activating sexual energy, directing it throughout the body to bring greater sense of well-being and higher states of consciousness," says Sally Valentine, who has a doctorate in clinical sexology and is a Tantric facilitator. The sex part? Well, that’s actually optional. Think of this as intimate, clothing-optional yoga with your partner that often leads to sex. Confused yet? Here’s a guide to a first-time tantric practice. [Source: Taylor Kubota, Men’s Journal /]

“1) Set the space: The first step in getting ready for a Tantric sex session is creating a "sacred space,” says Jacqueline Hellyer, psychosexual therapist and Tantra teacher. Try scented candles (placed carefully), luxurious bedding, maybe some rich chocolate, wine, and relaxing music (think, Boards of Canada). You’ll also want plenty of water — to stay hydrated. /\

Khajuraho erotic sculpture

“2) Get comfortable: Don’t wear your college hoodie and sweat pants, but do opt for comfortable clothing. While some people practice Tantric sex in the nude, for many it's better to build up to undressing. If your partner is spending all her time adjusting her corset, she might want to swap that out for pajamas. /\

“3) Get in sync: Hellyer says a simple way to ease into Tantric sex is by sitting across from your partner on the bed, starting up some pleasant music, and staring into each other's eyes for the duration of the song. This, she says, can create a sinking (and syncing) sensation between a couple; a taste of the mindfulness that's key to Tantric sex. You should also try and synchronize your breathing, which may happen without you even trying. /\

“4) Check your feelings: As you relax in the various steps of Tantric sex, emotions are going to come and go. Rather than trying to ignore them, understand these are part of the present experience too, says Valentine. "Notice what feelings come up, notice what thoughts come, and if tension is increased or decreased," she says. "Breathe into any tension that may arise and continue to breathe until each of you feel relaxed and receptive." Experiencing your thoughts and feelings and allowing your partner to witness are important parts of fostering a deeper, more spiritual connection. /\

“5) Then, a massage: Tantric massage begins with soft, teasing touches of non-erogenous zones. Some partners like to include feathers, silk, hot wax, or ice to create different sensations. These touches can become deeper and more sexual over time, although penetrative intercourse and orgasm aren't goals of Tantric sex. "Rather than [the sex] being very genital focused […] leading to this big, explosive orgasm, what you're actually doing is you're cultivating a sensation that's much more of a bliss type sensation and so your whole body gets suffused with a bliss and a more ecstatic kind of experience," says Hellyer.

“6) Get in the Yab-Yum position: The Yab-Yum position is a staple of Tantric sex. It can be done while clothed or naked. In this position, the male sits with his legs crossed and the female sits on top of his lap, facing him. The partners should embrace each other fully and try to synchronize their breaths. The closeness of this position helps people to physically and mentally appreciate their partnership to the fullest.

“7) Try a Tantric kiss: A Tantric kiss, like much of Tantric sex, is similar to what you would normally do but in slow motion. It's something partners can try out while in the Yab-Yum position. Get close, share a breath, and kiss slowly and sensually, savoring each sensation.

erotic scene at Lakshmana Temple at Khajuraho

“8) And then, the sex ... Once partners are attuned to each other and embracing all the sensations of each moment, they may move onto insertive sex. Or they might not. It all depends on how each person feels right then and is something that Tantric teachers don't necessarily encourage. If penetrative sex does happen, Hellyer encourages men to remember that every thrust counts. It's not about the pushing toward the finish line, so the movement outward is just as important as the inward thrusts.”

Tantric sex positions recommended by Cosmopolitan magazine include: 1) The Hot Seat: get down on it sex position. Get Down On It. 2) The Amazing Butterfly: Yoga fanatics, this one couldn't be more perfect for you. 3) Row His Boat: This position is primo for unequaled ecstasy without high-energy. 4) The Wow-Him Powwow: This traditional girl-on-top pose includes a tempting twist. 5) The Mermaid: This takes eye contact and body-to-body closeness to the max.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Indian History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “Encyclopedia of the World's Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures: Volume 3 South Asia” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); “The Creators” by Daniel Boorstin; “A Guide to Angkor: an Introduction to the Temples” by Dawn Rooney (Asia Book) for Information on temples and architecture. National Geographic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated December 2023

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