by Magdalene Meretrix
When you hear the word Tantra, what images come to mind? Turbans
and Sitar music? Mind-blowing sex? Most people in the Western world
have heard the word Tantra, but few know anything in detail about
what it means.
The situation in India isn't much different. Many people in larger
cities have adopted the Western view of the world, including the
Western view of Tantra, while those in the smaller towns and villages
tend to equate Tantra with sorcery and black magic. The truth appears
to lie somewhere in between.
Tantra is a form of Yoga (see glossary) -- another word that tends
to mean something different in the West. It may make you think of
people bending themselves into pretzel shapes, but those physical
exercises, part of a system called Hatha Yoga, are a tiny fraction
of this ancient and complex philosophical system.
Tantra is also a very ancient system of spiritual philosophy and
way of life. Most scholars agree that Tantra is even older than
the Hindu religion. Sanskrit words have a great depth of meaning.
It would take an entire essay just to go through the various shades
of meaning included in the word "tantra," but one simple
translation is "an extension of knowledge."
Even though Tantra is so old, it's been controversial from the
beginning. Teachers of Yoga, a spiritual path that teaches separation
from the world, and of Bhoga, a spiritual path that teaches that
physical pleasure can lead a person to divine enlightenment, have
nearly always been at odds with one another. Gurus, even today,
will often tell you that bhoga is just hedonistic self-indulgence
and tantra is very dangerous.
But Kaula Tantra, the form of tantra that Westerners are most
familiar with, is a way to unite yoga and bhoga - to discover the
divine through enjoying the pleasures of the physical world. Traditional
Tantra is not a single unified thing but rather a collection of
schools of thought and action, many very different from one another.
Consider the word "Christian" and think of how different a Quaker
meeting house is from a Roman Catholic cathedral. Similarly, there
are some forms of Tantra that include magical incantations, some
that include eating of feces or copulation with corpses and some
that advocate complete sexual celibacy. Kaula is the school of Tantra
that includes the Maithuna ritual -- sacred sexual intercourse.
To the Kaula Tantrika, pleasure is not an end in itself but a
way to contact divinity -- to reach a state of Samarasa. A person
in Samarasa views the world with equality -- sort of like the phrase
I'm sure you've heard: "All are One." The ancient saying adopted
by the neo-pagans, "as above, so below," finds its place in Kaula
Tantra, where the sexual union of a couple represents the union
of the god Shiva and the goddess Shakti. This union of the gods,
in turn, represents the mystical union of the universal forces of
creation and destruction.
Unlike most Eastern philosophies, tantra doesn't deny the physical
world. While other religions teach that the physical plane is an
illusion we must escape, Kaula Tantra considers concrete reality
to be a magical condition that we can use to propel ourselves to
a higher state of consciousness.
Western Tantra, an eclectic blend of select beliefs from Kaula
Tantra mixed with new age and neo-pagan beliefs, is not necessarily
any less effective than Eastern Tantra. For the practitioner who
was born and raised in the culture and mindset of the New World,
Western Tantra is often more effective and accessible than traditional
Kaula Tantra with its complex rituals, foreign vocabulary and multiple
I grew up with a form of Yoga that was filtered through Western
teachings much as tantra has been Westernized. As a child, I learned
about chakras (powerful energy centers in the human body) and prana
(life-force energy) from my father. The colors I learned to associate
with the chakras, however, are not the traditional Indian colors
and many traditional yoga teachers would consider some of the prana
exercises I use unorthodox. My approach to tantra yoga has, from
the outset, been a blend of Eastern and Western traditions and likewise
these techniques I'm going to introduce to you here are an eclectic
blend of both worlds.
I have used many of these techniques over the years in my sex
work as well as in my personal life. Using these teachings, and
many others too numerous to relate in an introductory article, I
have helped my clients and myself develop a greater connection between
spirit and body. These exercises are also useful for a variety of
specific issues such as premature ejaculation or inability to reach
The first step to practicing transcendent sex is to tone your
body. The better condition your body is in, the better sex will
be for you and your partner and the more chance you have of reaching
that transcendent Divine state through bhoga. This doesn't mean
you have to look like a centerfold or a bodybuilder. Good condition
looks different from body to body - what matters is not how your
body looks but how it feels to you. Practicing Hatha Yoga will condition
your body as will any exercises or activities that strengthen your
endurance and your flexibility.
One of my favorite books for learning Hatha Yoga is Richard Hittleman's
: 28 Day Exercise Plan. This book appears to be written for
the housewife of the 70's and there is no mumbo-jumbo in it. It's
filled with clear photos and lucid descriptions of the asanas, the
"pretzel positions" that you most likely associate with yoga as
a whole. But there's no pretzeling here! Hittleman stretches your
learning out over the course of 28 days, giving your body time to
adjust to the new routines, and finishes the book off with three
routines to alternate among for the rest of your life.
A part of Hatha Yoga that often gets left out in Western yoga
classes is the science of breath. You will be amazed at the difference
conscious and complete breathing makes in your sex life and in your
life in general. If you don't believe that your sexual pleasure
is affected by your breathing, try masturbating while holding your
breath or while hyperventilating and observe the differences.
A complete breath is a breath that fills your entire lungs. Yoga
speaks of a life energy called prana that is inhaled through the
nose and fills the body. This is the life force that is called Chi
or Qi in other systems. Learning to charge your body with prana
and offer an exchange of prana to a sexual partner can enhance your
pleasure in union. I have also found that concentrating on sending
prana to an injured person when there are no medical options available
at the moment can effect a "laying on of hands" type of pain relief.
I learned breathing and prana from a book called Science
of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka. My father had some old Ramacharaka
books from 1904 and we studied the entire series together. The information
in this little book is marvelous and so easy to understand that
I was able to use the techniques effectively at age twelve to comfort
my pet dog with prana while we were in the car on the way to the
vet after he'd had a heart attack.
To take a complete breath, pull air in through your nose while
letting your abdomen relax to a fuller position. Letting your stomach
pooch out changes the position of your diaphragm and pulls air to
parts of your lungs that often remain untouched. Once you've filled
your lungs as much as you think you can, pull your diaphragm in
slightly and raise your shoulders slightly and fill that last little
bit of your lungs. Hold the air for a moment and then slowly let
it all flow out, using your diaphragm at the end to push out the
last little bits of air.
Just this breathing technique alone will make you feel more alert,
more energetic and more peaceful. Practice it until it becomes second
nature to you. Your objective is to be able to breathe like this
through sex and orgasm. Most people pant and hyperventilate during
sex but would find that their sexual pleasure is greatly enhanced
if they can maintain a steady complete breath during sex and throughout
If you want to use breathing to work with your prana, your body's
natural energy field, visualize the energy entering your body as
a golden flowing light and filling your body with each breath. As
you breathe out, imagine impurities and negative thoughts leaving
your body, visualized as a black or noxious green cloud. Continue
breathing until your entire body is drenched in the golden light
and then practice visualizing that light flowing from your heart
out through the ends of your fingertips as you breathe out. Practicing
this with a partner can be great fun, syncopating your breathing
so that you are taking turns sending one another energy in an even
rhythm of unison breaths.
Once you've begun to get the hang of full breaths and energy play,
the next step you might want to take is learning to "recycle" your
sexual energies. This technique works for men and women both but
in men has the added benefit of helping to teach a man to be multi-orgasmic.
But before we go on, I should make something clear about male multiple
orgasm. While some men, especially younger men, can ejaculate several
times in an evening, this Western tantric technique will teach you
to orgasm several times in a row without ejaculating. The parts
of your brain that control erection, ejaculation and orgasm can
function separately and the effort spent training your body and
brain to orgasm without ejaculating will reward you with wave after
wave of pleasure that leave you energized rather than tired and
So how can an ordinary person learn to separate orgasm and ejaculation?
There is a technique that sounds deceptively simple but, with practice,
can greatly enhance both male and female pleasure. I will describe
the technique using the male sexual terms but women should not be
afraid of trying these techniques for themselves as well. I have
found deep sexual and spiritual satisfaction from pulling my orgasmic
energies up through my heart while self-pleasuring or during sex.
Begin by masturbating. Some people find it helps them to concentrate
in their early practice sessions if they allow themselves to ejaculate
once and rest for a while before beginning the practice in earnest.
Once you feel you are ready to get down to work, masturbate until
you feel that you are as close to orgasm as you can get while still
maintaining enough control to keep from coming. Stop at the last
possible moment and focus on letting the sexual feelings rise through
your body until they pass out through the top of your head. As soon
as you are ready to begin again, repeat the process -- masturbating
until you reach that brink and then sending the energy up through
Some men find that they have an easier time stopping at the last
possible moment if they press on their perineum -- the flat area
between the testicles and the anus -- with a couple of fingers.
This puts pressure on your prostate and helps to send the energy
back into your body rather than spurting out with semen. Women might
want to experiment with their male partner's perineum as well. I
have been able to cause an orgasm without ejaculation in a man who
had never practiced these techniques before just by applying the
right amount of pressure to his perineum while I was sucking him.
After you have practiced this technique for a while, you will reach
a point where you begin to experience waves of pleasure that last
a very long time and, in the case of men, are not accompanied by
ejaculation. There are many theories about what the sexual energy
and the unreleased sperm do within the body. The thing I've found
most important about it all, however, is that practicing this technique
enables a man to have many orgasms during the course of having sex
with his partner rather than one exhausting burst of brief pleasure.
If you'd like to learn more about the exercises that can teach
men to become multi-orgasmic, read The
Multi-Orgasmic Man: Sexual Secrets Every Man Should Know by
Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava.
There are so many more exercises and visualizations that I'd love
to talk about, but I'll just leave you with one last one -- the
puja. Puja means "worship" and that's exactly what you do when practicing
puja: worship your partner. Puja is a ritual wherein you are able
to see the divine shining through your partner and reveal the divine
to your partner similarly. Puja can be performed externally, using
a partner or even your own genitals, and it can be performed internally
as a meditation without actual sex.
Traditional Eastern tantra has many beautiful puja rituals but
some of these might seem awkward or even silly to a Westerner. It
depends on the person -- if you feel comfortable telling your partner
that his penis "shines with the light of a thousand suns" then you
might want to look into the traditional rituals. For many of us
Westerners, a slightly different symbolism resonates better.
For that matter, you don't have to tell your partner anything.
The important part of puja is to remember that you are worshipping,
that your partner's body is a sacred shrine or temple and that you
are touching the infinite divine when you touch your partner. You
can even use puja when you are with a partner who knows nothing
about tantric sex. Your partner may never realize that you were
making love to God when you were with him or her, but they will
definitely notice the difference in how you approach them. Puja
can't help but make an impression.
The best, though, is when a couple decides to practice puja together.
Offering prana and love and bhoga to one another, worshipping at
each other's bodies, the couple becomes God loving God, a sacred
and eternal union. Couples who have found this point in their lovemaking
tend to describe it as a transcendent experience. You'll hear comments
like, "I hit such a euphoric high that I was fulfilled physically,
sexually, mentally and emotionally for weeks afterward," or, "The
sex became so intense that I could no longer tell where I ended
and my partner began."
So next time you feel an urge for that Old Time Religion, reach
for your cock, reach for your pussy, reach for your partner and
reach for the divine. Your body truly is a temple of the divine
and every day can be a holy day when you learn to bhoga all night