Tantric Yoga is about reaching a healthy balance: recognizing the journey of your spirit, through the human experience, while becoming the person that you were meant to be.
The literal meaning of tantra translates to "text, theory, system, method, instrument, technique or practice, " detailing specific techniques for attaining liberation, for transforming life force energy toward enlightenment or spiritual attunement.
The term Yoga in itself means oneness or union. In other words, instead of rejecting the body and its desires, you actually embrace them through awareness in merging the spiritual world and the material world into one.
Around the middle of the first century CE, some mysterious Tantric rituals developed in strands of Hinduism and Buddhism, blending elements of Raja, Bhakti, Karma, Kundalini, and Hatha practices. These practices involve mantras, meditation, yoga, astrology, nature, food, science, music, art, walking, travel, body, human connection, and ritual that aim to weave the strands of our being into a unified whole.
These Tantric yoga practices focused on the principal of intimacy, but not only in its sexual form. Although tantra addresses the view that sexual intercourse can be a sacred act and a means of spiritual transformation, it is more about the act of connecting so deeply that you feel as if you are getting a glimpse into your and perhaps another’s soul.
In some parts of Western culture, the Tantric yoga model has been misconstrued to focusing on eroticism and promiscuity, while leaving out the deeper connection that comes with discipline and spiritual growth.
The spiritual union can grow by practicing patience and full concentration to each moment, savoring each technique (cuddling, petting, holding hands, hugging, eye-contact, gentle massage) as enough, instead of the western urge to get more and more as quickly as possible to relieve stress or glorify the ego’s power to “get some.”
Cuddling expresses the desire to give and receive affection through slow, moment-by-moment awareness. In other words, moving slowly and respectfully through all stages of getting to know someone emotionally, intellectually, and physically will reap the highest benefit.
Tantric yoga also relates to the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment by the yoga philosopher, Patanjali, in the concept of brahmacharya, or walking with god, without excess. It suggests that you should form relationships that foster your understanding of the highest truths.
Practicing brahmacharya also teaches you to use your sexual energy to restore your connection to your spiritual self, and that you don’t use this energy in any way that might harm others. The intention is to gain awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, the areas where you resist union with yourself and others, then cultivate the ability to consciously respond, rather than unconsciously react to both your fears and desires.
Love is when you have seen who you are as a state of being. Then you can share that blissful being with others. Osho teaches that the utmost sexual delight of all is not a search for thrills, but a silent waiting.
Earlier this year, I attended a workshop about adventures in intimacy, which had a profound impact on my spiritual growth. This experience opened my heart to fill up with love and give it freely to other souls. Adventure relates to an exciting experience or activity. It can stir up feelings of enthusiasm, curiosity, and uncertainty, as you explore the unknown. All intimacy combines vulnerability and pleasure to bring a sense of belonging, togetherness, affinity, friendship, affection, warmth, and confidence.
As Tantric yoga is an experience; courage to experiment is enough. In this workshop, you had to face your fears of making intense eye-contact, receiving gentle touch from strangers, and sharing some of your darkest fears, while keeping all of your clothes on. Each technique lasted as least five minutes with your entire attention focused on a new partner.
Massage is also a way of experimenting with Tantric yoga. You finished this class by weaving into groups of four. One person became blindfolded while the other six hands stroked, petted, tapped, and squeezed calves, hips, shoulders, feet, hands, head, and face. This was the most blissful moment of receiving.
Every stroke represented an appreciation for this skin, vessel, temple, nervous system. Appearance didn’t matter, neither did age, sex, degree, occupation, culture, country. All that mattered was that you were present and open to give and receive this tactile realm of sensation, universal connection.
One of the practices required you to answer this question, “What is one thing that you don’t want me to know about you?” You form understanding through honest rapport, glimpses into each other’s soul. Your purpose on this earth is not simply to perform or impress, but to be yourself.
Genuine intimacy requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity. The verb "intimate" can also mean "to state or make known.” Cognitive or intellectual intimacy takes place when two people exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions. When you feel insecure or not worthy of deeper connection, you can come back to the mantra, “I am here” to remind you that you are meant to have this human experience.
For this posture, one person stands with a Warrior I Pose leg position, in heel-to-heel alignment, or wider stepping stance. The second person stands about one foot in front with feet spread to as wide as the hips. The second partner reaches back as partner one grabs ahold of the palms or wrists.
As partner one begins to align his spine upright, partner two experiences a dramatic heart opening as she leans forward in trust. This teamwork focuses on opening your hearts and believing in the other. With all four hands connected, they exchange the energy of qi, also known as the life force.
Seated back-to-back in Easy pose (Sukhasana), align your spines. As you inhale, your back ribs press together. As you breath out to release, relax your shoulders. Leaning back to expand the lungs; partner draws forward to contract from the core. Then back up, connected at the shoulder blades, twist with your hands aligning on each other’s knees, squeezing the spinal sponges. Cleansing old thought patterns and habits that no longer belong here in this now, making room for open spirit flow, transition, and togetherness.