You’ve probably heard of it, but misconceptions about this style of yoga are so abundant that you may not know the true meaning behind Tantric, or Tantra yoga. The traditional Hindu practice of Tantric yoga goes back centuries, but it’s only in recent history that the Western world became aware of it in a very limited way.
The origins of Tantra are unknown, but it was practiced by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners as a means to achieve spiritual awakening and liberation as early as the 5th century. However, in the last 50 years it has gained popularity in the West as a counterculture movement. Western scholars and spiritual seekers became intrigued by its exotic and mystical aspects, and some started to write about it in ways that sensationalized Tantra's sexual practices. These practices were often portrayed as a way to achieve sexual liberation and to break free from societal constraints.
This sensationalism contributed to the widespread belief that Tantric yoga is all about sex, which further perpetuated misconceptions about the practice in general. While sexual energy is a part of Tantric yoga, it is just one aspect of a rich tradition that seeks to bring about a profound spiritual awakening and transformation.
Tantra yoga is both a physical and spiritual practice with a strong relationship to the numerous goddess deities in the Hindu tradition. The primary objective of Tantric yoga is to activate your kundalini energy, a dormant energy that lies at the base of your spine. Through various practices such as pranayama, meditation, asanas, and mantras, this energy is awakened and made to flow up through your chakras, leading to heightened states of consciousness.
In Tantra yoga, every physical movement and mental thought is a step towards liberation, which is achieved through the unification of your individual consciousness with the universal consciousness — or that of the powerful Hindu goddess Shakti. Tantric yoga is used for a variety of purposes, including spiritual growth, mental and physical health, and sexual empowerment. Through the practice of Tantra, you can achieve a greater awareness of yourself and the external world, leading to a better understanding of your purpose in life.
The goal of Tantra yoga is to stimulate the flow of prana until it overflows from your being, leading to a state of ecstasy and enlightenment. Essentially, your body is the tool for your awakening, and by exploring both the light and shadow of your spiritual being you can bring yourself closer to understanding your true nature.
Aside from achieving spiritual enlightenment, Tantric yoga is also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental focus and concentration, increase flexibility and balance, as well as strengthening your body. If you struggle with depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, or other mind-body disconnection, Tantric yoga can provide an alternate form of therapy for understanding the physical sensations behind these issues, and working with those sensations directly.
Although misconceptions about Tantra yoga and sex are pervasive, they do hold some truth. Tantric yoga is a powerful method for enhancing sexual vitality and promoting healthy, satisfying relationships. The practice teaches people how to connect with their sexual energy in a sacred and respectful way, fostering a deeper understanding of pleasure and intimacy. Contrary to popular belief, Tantric yoga does not require a partner in order to practice, or to heal your own sexual energy. But we cannot state this strongly enough — this aspect is just a small part of the overall Tantric tradition.
It’s highly recommended that you first start your journey with Tantra under the guidance of an experienced teacher or guru. However, you can still explore the many facets of Tantra yoga on your own, like meditation and pranayama.
A great introductory Tantra meditation to start with is a practice called Nyasa, in which visualizations are used to stimulate energy in your body.
Try sitting in a relaxed pose, closing your eyes, and looking up toward your third eye. Visualize your entire body filling with a healing light—starting with your fingertips and your toes, moving up your arms and legs, filling your entire torso, neck and head. Continue visualizing this vibrant light filling your body until it overflows, and then imagine that light seeping out into the world. Think of your body as being one with the light.
Root Lock Breath:
You don’t need to be an advanced yogi to practice some basic Tantric breathing. You can practice the below breathing exercise alone or with a partner in the comfort of your own home.
Start by sitting cross-legged in Easy pose. Inhale deeply and gently squeeze your pelvic muscles. Visualize your kundalini energy rising from your pelvic floor, upward throughout your spine. As you begin to feel the energy rise, feel free to pause and gently exhale, before taking another breath and allowing the energy to continue to travel up your spine until it reaches the crown of your head. Visualize the energy spilling out from your crown and filling up your aura.
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