Tantra is a school of thought that developed between the fourth and sixth century from a series of ancient texts known as the Tantras. It is a spiritual practice, similar to Buddhism. However, it differs from Buddhism in the belief that enlightenment can be obtained through the body, as opposed to just the mind.
As a result, Tantrics were notorious for breaking some of the rules most commonly held by religions of the time by consuming alcohol, eating meat and having sex. They did not shy away from physical pleasure like the Buddhists. In fact, they did quite the opposite: They sought pleasure.
The Western world adopted perhaps the most controversial element of Tantra: the sexual practice. In the original Tantric texts, there are sections that discuss seeking sexual pleasure. There are also other sections that discuss Tantric mantras and the use of more traditional yoga poses, like the Lotus.
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The modern interpretation of Tantra is a combination of the ancient practice of seeking pleasure with the body and physical poses found in yoga. This combination produced a form of partner yoga that increases the intimacy of couples.
In order to experience the full scope of Tantric yoga, you need to practice some of the ancient techniques, like the mantras and the lotus pose for meditation. At the same time, you should practice seeking physical pleasure with modern Tantric yoga exercises.
A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase repeated by someone who is praying or meditating. There are many mantras found in Tantric practice, but one in particular stands out from the Mahanirvana Tantra one of the original Tantric texts which was translated in 1913 by Sir John Woodroffe.
The mantra is considered the most excellent of all mantras, according to this text. It is three words: Ong Sachchidekam Brahma. This is further broken down into five syllables: Om, Sat, Chit, Ekam, Brahma. The instructions in the text are to say each syllable over one finger, starting with the thumb and working towards the pinky. Then, you repeat the whole phrase once over your palm and once again over the back of your hand.
Lotus is mentioned in the same text as the mantra, the Mahanirvana Tantra, as an important physical posture for the practice of meditation and mantras.
How To: Sit on a mat or comfortable surface. Hug your right knee into your chest, then put the bottom of your right foot into your left hip crease and let your right knee fall to the mat. Pull the left leg in and put the bottom of your left foot in your right hip crease, letting the knee fall to the mat. Make your spine as vertical as possible.
This couple's pose is used as either an intimate meditation position or a sex position. It helps align energy between a couple.
How To: One partner sits on the ground in a standard cross-legged position or Lotus pose. The other sits in their lap, facing them, with their legs around the partner's waist.
Hand on Heart
This exercise is for couples who are looking for an intimate pose that isn't necessarily sexual. It will build a deeper connection between partners by tapping into the heart chakra. They can also gaze into each other's eyes and synchronize breaths.
How To: The couple sits cross-legged, facing each other, and places their right hands on each other's heart chakra. The heart chakra is located in the center of the chest.