Throw the words “tantric sex” at your Tinder date and they'll likely be intrigued and intimidated. To most people, the idea of tantric sex sounds exciting, unique, and maybe more pleasurable. But only a small percentage of those people know what it actually is.
In many cultures, sex is considered merely recreational. Tantric sex is an ancient Eastern spiritual practice thought to expand consciousness and join together the polarities of masculine and feminine energy into a whole.
“Tantric sex is the ancient key to sexual pleasure and psychic power, attained through a set of rituals,” says Ashley Thirleby, author of Tantra: The Key to Sexual Powers. She goes on to explain that tantric sex can “enable you to reach new heights of sexual pleasure and ... tap your sexual energy for creative use in other areas of your life … [You] are in [your] most intense state of conscious and subconscious concentration during sexual involvement. Tantra teaches ways to carry this intense focus of concentration into all areas of life.
“The rituals make it possible to enjoy sex more often, for longer periods of greater pleasure than you have ever known before. And the more frequently you have sex, the more quickly and powerfully your sexual energy will regenerate itself … “In Tantra, all faculties — physical, mental, emotional — are stimulated as strongly as possible, then controlled, to bring ever-higher pleasure.”
Other than the spiritual element, what makes tantric sex different from Western sex and separate from the sexual culture in countries like the U.S.? In her book, Thirleby describes Tantra as “free of the hypocrisy that pervades … religious orders that seek enlightenment and truth through asceticism (primarily self-denial in sex). Tantra believes the path to enlightenment is through increased sexual activity.”
Unlike the “bone-and-go” sex many of us have become accustomed to, Tantra is a deeper sexual experience that most people enjoy. All it takes is the right information and an open mind.
1. Prepare your space.
Prep the bedroom or whatever area you plan to use (living room, etc.) with lots of comfortable pillows and soft bedding. Place lots of lighted, but mostly unscented candles, around the area — safely away from anything flammable. Keep the lighting completely off or on the dimmest setting.
Place glasses of water or a light wine within reach for both you and your partner to enjoy throughout the session. You may even wish to provide light snacks to keep your energy up or to feed to each other. If you wish to scent the area, use an essential oil diffuser with a relaxing scent (lavender is a good choice).
2. Prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Come to the experience with an open mind and an open heart. If something makes you uncomfortable, you can skip it, but try to work through any feelings of discomfort. Those feelings usually come from a place of shame. Throughout the practice, remain playful and show curiosity to find new forms of pleasurable interaction.
Take a shower or bath, either alone or together, but try to refrain from any sexual touching. Stand facing each other and stretch however suits you to release any tension.
Dress in comfortable, nonrestrictive clothing. Underwear, lingerie or shorts, and a loose shirt work well. You can practice tantra in the nude if you prefer. But because tantra is about a slow buildup of sexual energy, it's often helpful to start clothed.
3. Begin the process of slowly building sexual energy — the tantra.
After stretching and showering/bathing, sit in front of each other and get comfortable. You may want to sit cross-legged, or drape your legs over each other so the energy from your erotic zones is in closer proximity. You can also try the Yab-Yum position: The male partner sits down cross-legged, while the female sits down on top of his legs and faces him.
Look into each other's eyes for a long time — the eyes are the windows to the soul. It will feel uncomfortable at first, but continue to look into each other's eyes as long as it takes to become comfortable with the practice. There is no standard amount of time for this. Once you feel comfortable, a connection has been established. That is the goal. That is the precise sense of connection you need to enjoy tantric sex. Maintain eye contact throughout the practice.
4. Follow these steps in order.
- Breathe together. Slow down your breaths, and sync your inhales and exhales. Breathe in and out simultaneously while looking into each other's eyes. If you like, you can place your hand on your partner's chest to feel their heart beating.
- Once you’re breathing together and fully connected through eye contact, offer your partner some words to connect you further. Some examples include “I love __ about you” or “I feel pleasure when you __.” Be truthful in your statements and say exactly how you feel without fearing how it may be perceived. Take turns sharing statements.
- Very lightly and slowly move your fingertips across parts of your partner's body to awaken the nerves and heighten sensation, maintaining eye contact. Tease your partner by brushing your fingers close to the genitals and breasts but not actually touching them.
- If you are not already in Yab-Yum position, move into it. Embrace and breathe together.
- Practice a few tantric kisses. “With your lips slightly open and touching, inhale together gently and exhale together, sharing and synchronizing the same breath.” Only then should you join your lips in a soft, slow, sensual kiss.
- Give each other a full-body tantric massage. The receiving partner will begin face-down. The giving partner will begin to gently massage non-erogenous zones for several minutes, then proceeding to the erogenous zones.
You can go with a hand-only massage, or incorporate other textural tools, such as pieces of fabric, feathers, or wax. Once you've massaged your partner fully face-down, have them partner flip over and perform the same type of massage. A tantric massage is not about sexual stimulation, so do not try to bring your partner to orgasm.
- The final step of the practice can be to have sex. Alternatively, you can end the practice simply by lying together in a relaxed, blissful state. Intercourse is not the focus of tantric sex. It is just one of the possible choices on the path.
If you do have sex, proceed slowly, and choose a position (or positions) that heightens your connection with your partner and preferably allows you to maintain eye contact. Most importantly, don’t lose the consciousness of the act. Stay focused and grounded in the moment, patiently allowing energy to build within yourselves and your connection.
You can explore the elements of tantra for as long as you like. There’s no time limit. It’s all about exploring pleasure in the way you most enjoy.