What is Tantric Sex?


Hi, Am not sure if this is the right place to ask. Please forgive me if I offend someone. Recently I have been introduced to tantric sex and wants to learn more about it. I want to ask what is the place of sex in yoga. Is it something you should refrain from? If not, is yoga the first step to achieve tantric mastery? What kind of activities or exercises should I do and what kind of goals should I aim for tantric mastery? Are yoga and tantra totally discrete from each other in terms of the final goal?

—Gary, Canada


Dear Gary,

We are not offended, and we are happy to answer your questions as best as we can.

Tantra yoga is greatly misunderstood these days, both in India and in the West. In his book The Hindu Way of Awakening (which I highly recommend), there is a whole chapter on tantra yoga.

In it, Swami Kriyananda explains that tantra is much more than working with sexual energy alone and should be understood much more broadly than most people do these days. “…tantra [means] to accept what is, but replace it gradually with something better, until a new fulfillment overwhelms the falsity of the other, and robs it of its very lure to fulfillment. As Yogananda put it, ‘Once you taste good cheese, the stale kind you’ve enjoyed will lose all attraction for.’ ” Tantra also means detaching the mind from whatever one is doing.

“Even while eating or drinking, for example, detach yourself mentally. This means looking squarely at the act, rather than glancing sidelong at it with the pretense that it isn’t there, and isn’t really tempting anyway. Accept it honestly, in other words, but at the same time try to diminish the appeal it holds for you. Affirm mentally, instead, ‘I am not this weakness. I observe the action in myself, but that is not who I am’.”

You ask: “What is the place of sex in yoga?” Sex is part of life’s many sensory aspects, which, as yogis, one does one’s best to overcome gradually. We begin by reducing over-indulgence in ANY sensory stimulation, such as over-eating, over indulging in TV or media of any kind, and so on. Sexual thoughts or activities would be included in that list.

Notice the words: “overcome gradually.” As Swami Kriyananda implies above, it is often too difficult in the beginning of one’s spiritual journey to overcome all our basic drives, all at once.

One good way to begin taking charge of our lives and our energy is to substitute something better for what we are trying to overcome. You begin to know from the depths of your being: “Meditation (for example) is SO MUCH better and brings me so much more joy than ______ (whatever the sense indulgence might be). Why bother with the ‘stale cheese’ any more.”

Yoga (and especially yoga meditation!) is a good step towards every kind of personal self-mastery and self-realization. It is much better to follow a fully balanced path of yoga and not just focus on one small aspect of it (like tantra).

To learn more about that and also about what you have asked about activities and exercises you should do, I d strongly suggest you study The Art and Science of Raja Yoga. It offers a very balanced and “do-able” way to approach all the many aspects of yoga. This would be light-years better (and safer for you) than focusing on tantra yoga alone.