Psalm Isadora is the top tantra expert in the world, and a highly sought-after sexuality, relationship, and trauma expert specializing in women’s health and empowerment as well as modern sexual education. In this post, Psalm explains how she first discovered tantra as a form of meditation that allowed her to channel her sexuality and teaches the three main tantric breathing exercises. For more of Psalm’s insights on the tantric approach to sex and relationships, explore her class, Tantra 101: Awaken Your Sexuality & Deepen Your Mind-Body-Soul Connection.
I was initially drawn to meditation as a way to find relief from anxiety. I was a struggling single mom on medication for depression and anxiety, trying to figure out my path in life. I knew I needed something deeper to help me heal old wounds and get in touch with my life's purpose.
I tried a few other types of meditation before I found tantra. Zen meditation, for example, made me feel calm. I could see the value in it. But something wasn't clicking for me. It felt more masculine. I went to a center with Zen monks and saw that even females had their heads shaved and, of course, the image of Buddha is a man. I didn't feel like my female energy was powerful in this practice. In fact, it felt like I would have to suppress my natural feminine, sensual, and sexual energy to pursue it.
I wanted a practice in which I could be expressed as myself. I'm a sexual being. I'm a sensual being. I embrace everything about womanhood and want that as part of my spiritual practice as well. I want to enjoy being a woman, enjoy beauty, and know that it doesn't take away from being spiritual.
My trip to India nearly a decade ago was my introduction to tantra. I didn't realize there was a practice out there that not only embraces the feminine energy but really taps into your sensual and sexual nature in a very empowering way. In India, I visited temples with erotic carvings of people in every sexual position. I had been raised Christian, with the image of God as a man and definitely not erotic.
In these temples they would dress the goddess statues in colorful silks and even put perfume on them and adorn them with flowers in a devotional way. Instead of cutting off your hair, you put flowers in your hair. Instead of feeling shame or guilt about your body or your sexual desires, you put it out there in the open to be worshiped, revered, and admired. I felt like I had finally found my tribe.
When my tantra teacher asked me, "Do you want to study sexual tantra?" I was taken aback at first. I didn't know what it was. He explained that I would use sexual energy for spiritual enlightenment and as a vehicle to help me find and live my life's purpose. I was like, "Hell yeah! Finally!" This is what I've been looking for. Blending sexuality with spirituality made sense for me.
I've always been a sexual person. But in most religions and philosophies, there is a lot of shame and guilt associated with sex. We're taught to suppress our desires. In tantra, sex is a sacred thing. Sexuality is something to be honored. And the yoni (vagina) and lingam (penis) are to be worshiped—not feared or hidden or kept secret.
Tantra originated in ancient Sumeria and Babylon, when people believed the goddess was more powerful than the god. She was the giver of life. Sexuality was spiritual. There were temples run by priestesses where people would come and worship and pray by having sex. At some point, there was a war on the goddess and power shifted from the feminine to the masculine, sexual freedom became sexual oppression, and sex and sexual women were demonized.
I was surprised to find that tantra gave me faster results than regular meditation. I started studying the nonsexual part of tantra to help with anxiety and found that the breath work immediately gave me a feeling of bliss and relieved my anxiety much faster than any kind of meditation I'd ever tried. It not only helps me feel calm and centered, but it's a more energizing type of meditation.
It fuels me with creative and sexual energy, self-empowerment, and helps me live my soul's purpose and passion. I found my life coming together and ideas coming to fruition very quickly after beginning this practice.
I started the practice with the simple three-part tantra breath work, which I still do every day. The three parts of tantra breathing are Bliss Breath, Arousal Breath, and Sound Breath. If you do one minute of each every morning, you will feel more centered and energized within a week. I use it throughout my day too. You can call on it in most everyday situations. The Bliss Breath is ideal for calming yourself in stressful situations, and the Arousal Breath is perfect prep for a hot date.
How to practice Bliss Breath:
Take long, deep inhales and exhales through your nose (don't breathe through your mouth), lightly constricting the back of your throat so that your breath makes a whispering sound—kind of like a sexy Darth Vader.
How to practice Arousal Breath:
With the Arousal Breath, you inhale and exhale rapidly through the nose, as if you are hyperventilating. While doing this, pump your belly back and forth in rhythm with your inhales and exhales. On the inhale, visualize that you are pushing a string forward from your navel and filling your belly like a balloon. When you exhale, visualize pulling that string to the back of your navel to empty your belly like deflating a balloon. This builds heat and arousal in your body.
How to practice Sound Breath:
Stand up with your hands in fists and your arms overhead in the shape of a hockey goal. Take an inhale. Then pump your arms down to your sides and exhale with a loud, strong breath that almost sounds like you're saying, "HUH!"
How to practice partnered meditation:
Another thing I love about tantra is it teaches you how to meditate relating to other people whereas most meditations focus on how to be one with yourself. This is where the KISS Meditation comes in. KISS stands for Kinetic, Intimacy, Slow Down, and Sensuality. It's typically done with a partner to form a more intimate connection. The practice involves sitting with each other in silence, making eye contact, breathing in unison, and simply being present with your hand on each other's hearts.
Taking partnered meditation outside the bedroom:
This translates out of romantic settings and can be implemented in any interaction. Take a business meeting, for example: The principles of Tantra remind you to make eye contact when you talk, to really listen to what someone says without interrupting or thinking about what you're going to say next, to be open and present, and to exchange positive energy. Using these tools in my everyday life has definitely helped me feel more confident and better equipped to express myself.
Tantra has changed my life. It's given me my life's purpose. It fills me with creative, spiritual, and sexual energy that makes me excited to wake up every day.
I truly believe tantra is crucial in bringing mindfulness to everything we do. Other meditation practices dance around or avoid sexual energy. Tantra takes us to the root of our primal creative power, our chi, and helps us harness it. Tantra allows us to give that powerful energy direction. It also teaches us how to be compassionate—to experience giving and receiving love without expectations, or walls that keep us from being intimate in the present moment.