What is Tantric Sex?
The words ‘tantra’ and ‘sex’ have become synonymous in our culture. I once conducted some street interviews in which I asked members of the general public what they thought ‘tantra’ was. Most who had heard of it said something like, “It’s something to do with Sting having sex for hours, right?”
So, what actually is it? According to Christopher D. Wallis, an academic scholar specialising in Sanskrit and Classical Indian Religions and author of Tantra Illuminated, modern Tantra, or ‘neotantra’ has almost no resemblance to the original tradition. Classical Tantra was a ‘spiritual movement that arose within the religion of Shaivism.’ It was widely practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent and into other parts of Asia and Indonesia.
The practice of some ancient tantric paths did include the practice of sexual rituals. However, these were mostly concerned with challenging social norms at the time, rather than focusing on pleasure. For example, initiates may have been invited to have sex with someone they did not find attractive, or someone from a lower caste. The reason was to learn to see the perfection and manifestation of the Divine in everything and everyone. These rituals also constituted a very small part of the whole practice, and many of the original tantras did not include them at all.
Tantra (singular, rather than the original ‘tantras’ which was plural) was likely brought to the West by teachers such as Pierre Bernard, starting in 1905, and followed by Aleister Crowley. They introduced the practice as something which was all, or mostly, about sex, perhaps due to the fact that the original version did include the practice of sexual rituals. This has evolved and today Tantra is an umbrella term, and includes any practice, from meditation and chanting mantras to the practice of conscious touch to the more intimate yoni and lingam massage, and tantric sex. This is usually a way for couples to connect in a deeper and more conscious way, taking more time over the whole process. Often, this leads to feeling more pleasure, such as full body orgasms and sexual bliss. This can also take a relationship to a whole new level of openness and intimacy.
Setting the Scene
According to Sex, Health, and Long Life: Manuals of Taoist Practice, ‘The benefits of sexual bliss were not lost on the ancients, who knew well its powers to enhance health, concentration, and peace of mind.’ Today, couples can access these benefits, as well as the enhancement of pleasure, through the practice of tantric sex.
Firstly, it is recommended that you should set the scene for the encounter. The participants are invited to drop into their bodies in order to enhance their senses. For this, create a space which honours and titillates each sense. For example, candles or low lighting for sight and nature sounds or peaceful music for hearing. For smell, some fresh flowers or incense may work well, and silky sheets for the sense of touch. Finally, having some small and light snacks on hand, such as berries, may be a fun and sensual enhancement for the sense of taste. These are only guidelines and there is no ‘wrong’ way to set up your space, so you can be as creative as you like!
How to Have Tantric Sex
The first tip is to slow down! And then slow down some more. Take time and care to prepare the space, switch off your phones and prepare yourselves. This can include having a bath or a shower, and putting on some clothes which suit the occasion. Again, everyone has individual tastes and what you wear can depend on your mood or preferences, for example, sexy lingerie, something which honours your masculine or feminine, or something you feel comfortable in.
Gender and sexual orientation are not important when engaging in tantric sex with a partner. When you are both ready, you may want to connect with each other in the space you have prepared. This can include all, or none of: eye-gazing, hugging, breathing together and sharing your intentions for the time you have together. Again, the invitation is to make up your own rituals that suit you.
One of the beautiful things about modern tantra is that often there is no goal to get to in lovemaking. So even if you intend to have penetrative sex, there is no rush to get there, leaving plenty of time to savour and enjoy many other forms of intimacy.
Some Differences Between Traditional and Tantric Sex
Many people are not sure what the differences are between conventional sex, and tantric sex. Many seem especially unaware that there are numerous ways in which tantric sex can help couples grow closer, and improve the existing relationship. Here are some ways in which tantric sex is different:
Lingam and Yoni Massage
Tantric sex may involve taking turns to massage each other. This can help you both to relax and wake up the body. This exchange may or may not involve genital massage. This is often called ‘yoni massage’ when performed on a woman, and ‘lingam massage’ when performed on a man. This is a wonderful way to continue to raise sexual energy.
Peaks and Valleys
Tantric sex differs to conventional sex in being less goal-oriented. Often, when couples have sex, they can move to genital touch quite quickly and stimulate each other with wanting to reach orgasm. In tantric lovemaking, ‘peaks and valleys’ is more the norm. This means allowing sexual energy to rise and fall, then rise again, then fall again. Over time, this can allow sexual energy to build higher and higher. Peaks and valleys may or may not involve orgasms along the way.
A part of tantric practice for men involves learning to separate orgasm from ejaculation, allowing them to enjoy multiple orgasms. Women can also learn to fully open to their multi-orgasmic capacities. This can be done through learning certain breathing techniques and physical exercises. It is possible to learn these from a book and practice at home. However, a tantric practitioner may be invaluable in helping to first remove any blocks that may be stopping that energy from flowing freely, as well as supporting you with learning different techniques. Please note that this is a journey, and it is likely to take some time and regular practice before the desired result is achieved.
Breath and Moving of the Orgasmic Energy
Tantric Sex can often look the same as penetrative sex for those couples who practice it. The same positions, for example, missionary, man on top, or woman on top can be used. What makes it different, other than the length of time taken over the process, is also the use of breath. Many tantric couples learn to breathe in a deeper and more conscious way. This both allows you to relax your body, and to learn how to circulate energy through the body when coupled with muscular contractions of the pelvic area, relaxing the body whilst in an aroused state, and sometimes visualisation. This is using your imagination to make the life energy, also called ‘sexual energy,’ to circulate through the body. This can be an intensely pleasurable experience. It works better for some than others, so don’t worry if it’s not for you—it’s not essential.
Ecstatic or Spiritual Experiences
Tantric Sex allows couples to experience deeper states of bliss and joy. Some couples share experiences which they describe as “close to God” or which simply “cannot be put into words.” This is often because tantric love-making practices direct sexual life-force energy from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head and beyond into cosmic states. In addition, sexual energy can activate the pineal gland, creating blissful experiences, including the release of large amounts of happy hormones and endorphins.
Deeper and More Meaningful Relationship
There is much more to tantric sex than just opening up to greater pleasure, although that’s a wonderful part of it. Couples also learn to communicate better about what they like and don’t like, and what’s going on in their body. This means being vulnerable sometimes, and open with each other, which creates a deeper understanding and bonding with your partner.
Tantric Massage and Education Sessions for Couples
Now you can see some of the ways in which practicing Tantra may enhance our love life and relationships. A tantric massage session with a qualified practitioner may be a great starting point of your tantric journey. It can give couples the opportunity to take some time out for themselves to enrich and nourish their relationship, as well as to learn new skills and techniques. Couples have sessions for different reasons. Some want to learn massage skills, including yoni, prostate and lingam massage for pleasure purposes. Others want to learn how to expand and prolong the orgasmic response, and some want to learn to communicate better to be able to ask for what they want in a lovemaking situation. Whatever you are wanting as a couple, sessions can be tailor made to suit your individual requirements. Having a session with a qualified tantric therapist can help you to enjoy more fulfilling sex as a couple, and either re-connect or deepen the connection you already have.
Consultation with a Tantric Practitioner
If you’re interested in finding out more about genuine tantric massage and learning for couples, visit the Tantric Healing Massage section of the Tantralize Directory. Many of the practitioners listed in the directory offer a 20 minute free phone consultation to discuss what you’d like to learn and experience in a couple’s session.
The Tantralize Directory also includes Intimacy Coaches and Sexological Bodyworkers who offer a different approach, and Sensual Massage providers for those who are looking for a purely fun and pleasure-oriented experience.