Sex advice: What is tantric sex?
A reader asks, what is tantric sex? Our resident sex and relationship expert explains how Tantra can enhance your sex life and the bond between you and your partner
Question: My partner and I have heard about tantric sex, but we don’t really know what it is. Do you have any suggestions for getting started?
Tantra is a Sanskrit word that means “woven together.” Hindu and Buddhist meditation practitioners use sexual union as a metaphor for weaving together the physical and the spiritual: weaving man to woman, and humanity to the divine. The purpose is to become one with God. The Western form of this sacred sexuality called Tantra teaches slow, non-orgasmic sexual intercourse. Couples in my practice who have tried tantric sex find that they cultivate great sensual pleasure and also a sense of “dissolving into each other” that is profound and loving. The purpose is to become enlightened, not to win an Olympic medal for carnal gymnastics.
Here is an introductory tantric exercise. Begin by facing each other and gazing into each other’s eyes—clothes on. Focus on one of your partner’s eyes; this keeps you intimately exposed. (Some people look back and forth between the two eyes to reduce the tension, but that’s cheating!) Eyes are windows to the soul, so you are gazing into his soul, he into yours. Next, synchronize your breathing: Breathe in together, exhale together. Then move into breath exchange: You inhale when he exhales, then exhale when he inhales, as though you’re breathing each other in. Practise this for at least 10 minutes.
To take this into sexual Tantra, try the same process but with clothes off. Sit on his lap, facing him, and wrap your legs around his waist. Do the breath exchange, but move into kissing and caressing. In time, begin slow intercourse, but continue caressing and kissing. Keep eye contact. Here is where things get interesting; as you become more proficient, you can develop the ability for prolonged orgasm. For both women and men, this is a variation on multiple orgasms; you remain at the peak of ecstatic pleasure without climaxing. There are all the feelings of a typical orgasm, but it lasts for many minutes (or even hours), without a traditional orgasm. This leads to profound sexual and emotional merging.
In our modern overscheduled lives, we rarely stop and intently focus on our partner. Practising tantric sex can enhance your relationship and your sexual pleasure in several ways. First, emphasizing breath and connection creates a deep level of intimate contact. This alone can open your heart to feeling closer, more loving and more forgiving. Second, the slow pace of tantric lovemaking will allow you to explore the sensual range of your bodies and minds. Making love for an hour or more is like turning a fast-food burrito into an epicurean feast. Both will satisfy your hunger, but the feast brings you more pleasure, delight and profound satisfaction. Third, while you may balk at the idea of avoiding climaxing, these practices can help you both develop sexual ecstasy and connectedness far beyond that of a typical orgasm.
Cheryl Fraser, Ph.D., is a psychologist and sex therapist who lives in Duncan, B.C. She teaches a couples’ workshop, the Awakened Lover Weekend. What do you think? Do you have your own advice to share?
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2010 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience—and never miss an issue!—and make sure to check out what's new in the latest issue of Best Health.