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What is Tantra?

It is February, the month that includes Valentine’s Day, and the extra focus on love and romance.  In the world of yoga, this might bring to mind “Tantra,” but should it?  Perhaps, as yoga involves the fullest expression of life, the most beautiful refinement of everything that life has to offer.  Indeed, tantric sex is a refinement of many alternatives, and thus in line with yogic ideals.  Nevertheless, Tantra is much, much more than we typically conceive of it, especially in the West.

So what is Tantra, and in particular, Tantric Yoga?  Yoga is the practical application of Indian Philosophy, where “philosophy” is the careful search for wisdom about the most important principles of life, such as how we should live so that we can maximize happiness for ourselves and our loved ones.

Tantric Yoga is a refinement of Classical Yoga.  Both forms of Yoga emphasize that we can experience more joy by connecting to our deepest, untapped consciousness within.  But while the Classical Yoga tradition considers the outer aspects of life less than worthy (in comparison to the inner aspects), the Tantric Yoga tradition celebrates life as a great gift. 

Many Classical Yoga schools practice renunciation of life – giving up certain activities so that we will not be distracted from our inner exploration of consciousness.  Tantric Yoga schools take a much different approach.  Rather than speaking disparagingly of the great variety of life’s possibilities, Tantric teachers point out that we can take the power of consciousness and elevate all aspects of our thinking, feeling, and actions.  Rather than trying to escape the “lure” of activities that might have negative “side effects,” Tantric philosophy encourages us to live intelligently and creatively, using the powerful energies of life that reside within us for the highest good.

When we think of happiness, we will likely also think of freedom.  Yoga holds that these go hand in hand.  For Classical Yoga, though, freedom (or liberation) entails freedom from the trappings or distractions of life.  But as Madeleine Biardeau states it, “Tantra is the attempt to employ desire (kāma) and all the values associated with it at the service of liberation.  This attempt results from a general aim of not sacrificing this world to the purposes of salvation, but of reintegrating it to the perspectives of salvation.”

Ultimately, by means of Tantric practices (meditation, pranayama, chanting, āsana), we are able to experience, more and more, that every fiber of every person, place, and thing in creation pulsates with divinity.  We experience a taste of this when we feel a sense of peace, bliss, and/or love when we practice yoga together. 

So how do these principles explain why Tantric sex would be preferable to ordinary sex?  And how might these ideas cause some meditation experts to proclaim that every moment in life can be highly sensually fulfilling and liberating?  The comment box is open for discussion!

We look forward to having you join us at our newly-opened divine space.  Check out our class descriptions to see how you can best explore how divine life can be!