Tantra, in spite of its glorified reputation as a technique to give you the most ‘mind-blowing sex of your life’, is actually a centuries-old philosophy based on the principles of masculine and feminine energies in nature. Tantra teaches that all of life – from the pure to the profane – is here on purpose, and that engaging with all of life is the most powerful component of our spiritual evolution. Nothing is shunned in Tantra, unlike the more austere techniques of Yoga from which much of our current physical practices are taught. Let’s be real, is happiness really dependent on getting your leg behind your head? Can’t we just work on feeling at peace in our own skin? This is the foundation for Tantra.
The reason Tantra is often equated with sex is due to the transcendent potential of sexual union. Connecting in body, breath, and bliss, are all proof of the spiritual nature of being fully, unashamedly, IN a body- which is key to Tantric philosophy.
There are many things that can disconnect us from our bodies, though: hurriedness, imbalance, disassociation, routine. This is where traditional Yoga proves helpful. The leg behind the head stuff. But what about sexual disconnectedness? Having no context for our desires and not knowing what feels good? This is brought on by other types of dissociation: guilt, shame, regret, pain, distracted or unconscious indulgence. Here is where Tantra comes into play.
Tantra is choosing to utilize sexual urges or primal “expression” as fuel for self-awareness; in lieu of denying fantasies or contrastingly, plowing through a string of unsatisfying lovers. It is the wholesome acceptance or “stability” that is missing- the felt sense of being held by something larger, beyond this fleeting moment of coupling or orgasm. That junction is made through Tantric Yoga: the forces coming together are referred to as the masculine and feminine- stability and expression, container and energy, Yin and Yang.
Yang energy can be conceived of as the foundation and four walls of a house. Feminine, or Yin energy, is the particular frequency of energy which makes the house a home; mood, vibe, palette. Pleasure, in order to peak, must have a grounding rod in order for the tendrils of sensation and emotion to fully express their range. Sound abstract? It doesn’t have to be.
Yoga through the Tantric lens has embedded within it simple, life-affirming techniques which may or may not be used specifically within the context of sexual intercourse, but undeniably for cultivating greater pleasure within the present moment – this city, this job, this family, this body, this, right here, right now. Focusing our self-inquiry on establishing balance between what feels stable and what really revs our engine is how we can use Yoga to enhance pleasure in our daily lives. This brings us to our first step.
Step One: Center Yourself Physically to Maximize Presence
It might seem basic, but feel your feet on the ground. Standing in the physical reality of the body is step one to reclaiming ease in being in a body, your primary means of moving through the world. There is a time and a place for imagination when it comes to pleasure, but if we are disengaged from the body, there is no way to manifest our desires in real time. As a solo practice, grounding into your physical space may look like giving yourself a foot massage, engaging in a slow Asana practice and remembering your body parts or spending more time walking barefoot.
Step Two: Let Go of Mental Distractions to Engage Fully
A sure fire way to create conflict within the mind is to be rigid about how ‘it’s supposed to go,’ whether that’s a conversation or the trajectory of your life. We are only in control of our responses to what happens, not what happens, and this is the central tenet of Yoga- to establish quiet in the mind. The feminine force is constantly changing, the planets revolving around the Sun, causing daytime and nighttime, the unstoppable force of time propelling us toward death. These are out of our hands, and yet we cling to body weight and relationships and jobs as concrete structures of self-definition. When life inevitably curves, our sense of self crumbles. The resulting conflict in the mind can create a physical reality of muscular tension and hormonal stress, canceling out any hope of joy, let alone ecstasy. The single most effective way to regulate the nervous system is through the breath, and the good news is is that it is the first thing you ever learned to do in this life.
Step Three: Express Pleasure to Make Pleasure Real
Dialogue is not only key to relationship, but key to getting what we want. Communication requires two things of each participant: listening and speaking. We can’t just know what we want, we have to express it! Christian theology states, “In the beginning there was the Word”; in Yoga, there was Om. In each and every moment we are creating the possibility of enhanced pleasure by expressing our experience. You know these sounds: “Ooh,” “ahhh”, “hummm,” “yeeeeeeeeesssssssssssss.” Don’t be shy, now is not the time. When we have restrictions around what is ok to express, we usually end up expressing in extreme or perverse ways. If the channel for communication is obstructed, what we are giving and receiving is going to be obstructed, leading to disappointment and perhaps regret. Sigh audibly. Laugh unabashedly. Sing in your shower. Hum when something is delicious. Use your voice to say thank you and to ask for more. Use your voice to say that’s enough. Use your voice to establish presence in your life – you are here, now.
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