What comes to mind when you hear the term Tantra yoga? If you guessed it was something sexual, well, you're sort of right... but not exactly.
It's true—Tantra yoga may improve your sex life, but only because of what it does to help you get in touch with your own body and your own energy. Tantric practices, including Tantra yoga, work on the subtle energies within the body to enhance spiritual growth and physical wellbeing.
Through the exploration of these energies and their connection to the universe, the purpose of life and the connection to others can be understood in a new dimension.
Why Practice Tantra Yoga?
According to Rod Stryker, one of the most renowned teachers of Tantra yoga, the goal of Tantra Yoga is three-fold:
- To thrive
- To prosper
- To bring the spiritual world and the material world into one
Stryker says, "Tantra yoga shows us what is blocking us from thriving, and offers techniques that will help us attain spiritual and material prosperity."
So, What Exactly Is Tantra Yoga?
The word tantra means to weave or expand. The idea with Tantra yoga, then, is to weave together many yoga practices, and other spiritual styles and teachings, in order to connect with others and the universe. When practiced consistently, Tantra Yoga can help you get in tune with who you are, achieve your goals, and, when done with a partner, deepen your relationship.
Tantra yoga takes the whole body and whole person into account and works with five different bodies:
- The physical body
- The energetic body
- The mental/emotional body
- The wisdom body (the inner teacher)
- The bliss body
Each of these bodies has its own weaknesses and its own strengths—all of which are usually buried deep down. When we can bring them all to the surface, we can stop responding unconsciously and gain control over our desires. Through Tantra yoga, one is said to be able to ultimately reach a state of eternal bliss.
As a practice, Tantra yoga is rooted in the traditional Hatha yoga and weaves together numerous other styles including Kundalini, Bhakti, Karma, Raja and more. But Tantra yoga is also about more than just the asanas and yogic traditions. It also layers on astrology, Ayurveda, chanting, gemology among other techniques and mystical teachings.
3 Tantra Yoga Postures
A Tantra yoga practice is likely to include a vinyasa practice, flowing from one posture to the next. It then goes beyond the physical body to include meditation and pranayama, or breath work to help the practitioner get in touch with the body's more subtle forces. Through this work and other mystical and spiritual teachings, the self becomes part of the greater universe.
If your goal is to move your yoga from the mat to the bed, a few specific postures can help you connect with your partner on a deeper level.
1. Boat pose
This pose will help strengthen and stretch – and when done with your partner, will help you connect. Sit on the floor facing each other, and with your arms outside your legs’ reach for your partner's hands. Starting with your knees bent, lift your legs to place the soles of your feet against your partner's feet. Work towards straightening your legs as you lift your feet towards the sky.
2. Yab Yum
One person, usually the larger person, sits cross-legged. The other person then sits on their partner's thighs with his/her ankles crossed behind the partner's back. Allow your foreheads to touch, while keeping your back as straight as possible, and breathe deeply and slowly.
Ideally your breath will become synchronized. You can do this with your eyes closed or try gazing into each other's eyes to connect on a whole new level.
Sit cross-legged facing each other. Place your right hand on your partner's heart and your partner does the same. Then each of you places your left hand over your partner's right hand.
As you tune in – both to the physical beating of your heart and the energy around it, the heart chakra. The feeling becomes increasingly powerful and you bring your breath into harmony.
You can also use tantric techniques to meditate with your partner. Lie on your sides snuggled up in a spooning position with your chakras in line. The partner in the back will want to slip his/her arm under their partner's neck so that their hand rests on the partner's third eye or top of the head. The other hand should rest on the partner's heart. The person in front can rest his/her hand over the partner's.
First, bring your breath in sync, and then move into focusing on each of the chakras for three full breaths.
Tantra yoga is about intimacy, which can mean with a partner or with your own thoughts, dreams and desires. Whether practicing Tantra yoga alone to get in touch with your own subtle body energies or with a partner to connect more deeply, the practice will help you get in touch with your true self and break down barriers in a unique and meaningful way.