Tantra is a spiritual practice that originated in China, India and Nepal. While it includes sexual practices, it is not just about sex. The word Tantra comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and means “expansion through awareness.”
Tantra is a spiritual path and a philosophy that employs practices that use breath, sounds, symbols and movements to calm the mind. When the mind is stilled, practitioners can more easily direct sexual energy throughout the body to reach states of higher consciousness and bliss.
Tantric practices may also be used to help heal past traumas that may become stored in the chakras and sexual centers of the body. When practiced with a partner, these techniques can help intensify the flow of sexual energy between the partners and expand the love that is felt by the partners for each other. This energy can be used for sexual pleasure as well as for deepening intimacy between the lovers.
Tantra and Tantric Sex are huge subjects and cannot be explained in a few paragraphs. Tantra is best learned by experiencing the practices so that they can become “embodied” for you and your partner. In this introductory blog my intention is to teach several simple touch activities that can help increase connection between you and your partner.
Important point: We are not just envisioning a heterosexual pair with a man and a woman. “Partners” can be a woman and a man. They can be two men who are lovers. Or two women who are lovers. “Partners” can also be three or more people who are friends seeking a deeper connection between each other and other members of a group.
In my work with couples, groups, and individuals I find that playful and stimulating touch can “break the ice” so to speak, and help partners to connect with the intent of inducing deeper intimacy.
Three Core Practices
YabYum / Sitting Position
This is a classic Tantric position that can be done with or without penetration. One partner sits in an easy cross-legged position or with legs extended in any comfortable position with a pillow under their tailbone. The other partner sits in their lap with legs wrapped around their waist and soles of feet touching. Be sure to have lots of cushions available for different positions. Both partners place their right hand at the back of their partner’s neck and their left hand on their partner’s tailbone or lower back. Breathe together and let the energy build.
Variations on Yab Yum
Leg positions: You do not need to sit in your partner’s lap. You can sit with your legs outstretched over your partner’s outstretched legs. You can even sit in chairs. Sit in any position that is comfortable and allows you to be close to your partner.
Breathing in Yab/Yum
Breathing in Opposition: Breathe into each other’s mouth, with mouths/lips touching, as in a kiss. One partner breathes in while the other breathes out. This can take a minute to coordinate but is well worth the effort. This practice of sharing the breath in this way can be intensely intimate and connecting. It can be powerfully trance-inducing. Breathe in this manner for at least 3-5 minutes. You can build up slowly.
Be at peace.
Place your right hand over your partner’s heart. They place their right hand over your heart.
Place your left hand over your partner’s right hand (which is on your heart). Your partner places their left hand over your right hand (which is on their heart).
Breathe together and look into each other’s left (or non-dominant) eye. Allow a sigh of ahh to come out every four or five breaths. Continue for thirty or forty breaths, or until you feel that your hearts are open and connected.
Then, remove your hand from each other’s heart and allow your hands to come together in a prayer position. Place your hands over your own heart and close your eyes for a few moments.
Complete with a bow to each other before turning to other activities.
Look Into My Eyes: Eye Gazing
Eye gazing is a basic tantric practice. It can lead to intense experiences if you do it right. Although it sounds simple looking at each other—it can be difficult to look into anyone’s eyes for any amount of time. Fears of intimacy can make it uncomfortable to look into your lover’s eyes deeply, for any length of time. How do you feel when a lover looks deeply and directly into your eyes? You could feel delighted but also might feel vulnerable, self-conscious, or embarrassed.
Eye gazing in tantric practice means looking deeply into your partner’s eyes to see beyond the eyes into their soul.
To do eye gazing, stand or sit facing your partner in a relaxed and open posture. Gaze softly into each other’s eyes for about 3 minutes. You can also eye gaze in YabYum or any comfortable position as long as your energy centers are aligned
Look predominantly into each other’s left (receiving eye). Relax, it’s not a staring contest. Keep your eyes relaxed. Imagine, if you wish, that you are “receiving” their gaze. See if it helps you to relax. Be sure to breathe. Okay to smile.
Notice whatever feelings come up (fear, attraction, embarrassment, love). Keep breathing. Notice if you are holding your breath, squinting or shifting around. If you practice this regularly, you will eventually be able to achieve more stillness.