What is Tantra Yoga?
Tantra is a Sanskrit word that has several meanings. Depending upon its interpretation, it can mean weaving, or loom. The root words tan mean stretch, or expand, and the word tra means instrument. The word yoga means union. So, Tantra yoga can be thought of as a way of expanding into union: union with your partner, union with yourself, union with the divine Shiva/Shakti energies that reside within each of us.
The earliest written records of Tantric practices have been dated to around the 5th century CE, and possibly existed in some form in the pre-Vedic civilizations as early as the 4th millennium BC. Tantric sexual practices, which many Westerners associate with Tantra itself, were developed as a way of achieving an extended, heightened ecstatic state in which the practitioner, or tantrika, could find communion with the divine.
In the West it's easy to become disconnected from ourselves and our sense of inner divinity, and in the process lose a sense of balance between our internal senses of masculine and feminine energies. This imbalance is exhausting! Tantra is a path to restoring inner balance of masculine and feminine energies that we all have.
The Tantric practices help remove energetic and emotional blocks, opening the body's energy centers, or chakras, and allowing us to connect deeply with our own natural alignment of masculine and feminine - our own sense of Shiva and Shakti. With this connection to our true selves, we are able to be more confident, loving, and conscious. Unleashing this energy in our lives enables us to be more present and loving with others, and gives us the confidence and energy to reach for and achieve our dreams.
Western culture can benefit from tantric practices through a deeper connecting with self and partner. Once a tantrika has found unity with their own sense of inner divinity, they can experience that same sense of divinity within others. In this way, tantrikas can experience a deep love for themselves and other. This can take them to new levels of love and passion in their relationships, and help them find connection with their own sense of the divine masculine and feminine.
What's all this about the divine? Do I have to join a religion to practice Tantra? Is Tantra a cult?
As with all practices that have a spiritual component to them, we use words like divinity to try to convey a meaning that can't really be conveyed through words. In the Tao Te Ching, it is written that, "The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao." So, I use words like divine and divinity to convey a sense of connection with something greater than my own experience. Everyone will have a different understanding of what that means.
So, no - you do not have to join a religion to work with Tantric practices. Your experience of the work can certainly be deepened with some understanding of Buddhism and Hinduism, which are the wellsprings of Tantra. But Tantra can be practiced by people of any faith, or no faith. All that Tantra asks is an openness of mind and heart.
Also, Tantra is not a cult - at least not in the way that I have been taught, continue to be taught, and teach. Tantra is about awakening and expanding the Self, not trying to control people. Each tantrika has their own path to follow, it is my task to help guide them on that path. It is my intention to serve only the highest good of anyone who wants to work with me.
Isn't Tantra just about having great sex?
People can learn to have deeper, more powerful sexual experiences through the Tantric practices - that sounds like fun, right? There are some simple techniques that men can learn to have multiple orgasms without ejaculation, and women can learn to orgasm throughout their whole body, not just through the clitoris.
Men: imagine feeling energized, not drained, after making love with your partner. What would you accomplish in the world, energized with your creative, sexual energy?
Women: imagine learning to feel your entire body orgasm, connecting you deeply with your divine feminine power. How much more deeply could you connect with yourself, your partner, and your life when you're flowing with your Shakti power?
So, yes, people can learn to have powerful sexual experiences through Tantra. And - going into the work beyond just sexual techniques can take you deeper into the experience of love and spiritual connection - heightening your pleasure. Tantra is about love, the pleasure comes from being in the work.
What can I expect from my first sessions with you?
I strive to meet my students where they are in their lives. I have a questionnaire that I send to all new students and seekers to help me do that. In our first session, we'll discuss your answers and anything else you want to share with me that would help our session.
I usually begin by teaching breathing and meditation practices. The culture we live in demands that we be in our heads a lot of the time. Learning to meditate and use the breath can help you get out of your head, and into your body. When we are comfortable in our bodies, we are able to awaken to the richness of sensations and emotions that our bodies are capable of experiencing. Sometimes we encounter strong emotions that the body has held onto. I will teach you powerful techniques for experiencing and releasing that emotional energy in healthy ways.
We will also explore different modalities of touch and the differences between conscious and unconscious touch. I like to use Dr. Betty Martin's Wheel of Consent to introduce setting healthy boundaries and body sovereignty as well as exploring giving and receiving touch. All of these techniques can be taught fully clothed and begin with minimal touch. Later sessions could involve more hands-on work and techniques. In all of our sessions, you will be treated with respect and as a sovereign being, and you are always at choice in all experiences.
In offering this work, it is my intention to empower you to begin walking your own path of awakening. Walking the Tantric path can be a rich lifetime journey, offering profound insights and deeply felt personal experiences of awakening to your own truth. Ultimately this path is about finding your way back to yourself, and my intention is for you to feel safe and respected so that you can do the work and have the experiences you need for your growth.
It is important to understand that I do not have sex with my students. It is also important to understand that Tantric practice is a spiritual path, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any physical or psychological illness. I am a coach and teacher of conscious loving, I am not a doctor or therapist. If you feel you are in need of the services of a physician or therapist before beginning Tantra work, I encourage you to seek them out.
Do I have to have a husband/wife/partner to do Tantra?
Tantra is a path of personal discovery, and couples working together can find the practice will deepen and enrich their relationships. However, it is certainly not the case that you need a partner to practice tantra. As a teacher, I can guide you on your own path of self discovery of love and pleasure through solo practices, helping you to open to your own deep well of love. Taking this new learning and experience out into the world is a wonderful way to call in your beloved.
Is there anything Tantra can offer the LGBTQ community?
Absolutely! We are all human beings, and Tantra speaks to the humanity in all of us. From the Tantric perspective, we all have energetic aspects of conscious intent, which is associated with Shiva (masculine) energy. The Shakti (feminine) energy is associated with dynamic, creative power. Weaving unity between the Shiva and Shakti energies is part of the Tantric practice, and is available to everyone. Tantra also speaks to our embodied experience as well, reminding us that our bodies are capable of a vast range of experience, including profound ecstasy. The whole of Tantra is available to everyone, irrespective of who we fall in love with.
The book Gay Tantra, by William Schindler, is an excellent place to start. William writes as a gay man and an experienced scholar of Tantric practices.