Let’s be honest, the only thing anyone knows about tantric sex is that Sting does it and it lasts for hours. You may be surprised to find out even Tom Hanks and his wife practice the ancient technique, though not as openly as Sting!
What Is Tantric Sex?
Tantra began in India and dates back thousands of years. Tantra is an ancient path of meditation with roots in both Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist spirituality.
Although tantra involves study, meditation, and breath-work, the aspect that people are usually most intrigued by is sexual practice.
It views every facet of human experience (including sex) as potential for personal transformation and self-actualization. For the tantric, life is a meditation. Every activity — eating, drinking, breathing, dancing, making love — can be entered into with awareness.
The idea behind tantric sex in the Hindu spiritual tradition is that when sex is practiced with awareness and connection, it is a way to achieve enlightenment.
Tantric sex is focused on very slow intercourse with an emphasis on synchronized breathing, touching, eye contact, and intimacy with your partner. Unlike regular sex, orgasm is not the goal, but rather prolonging it and feeling deep connection.
There’s such a thing as a tantric quickie, though you’ll likely find that the simple act of being mindful will cause you to slow down.
Slow sex actually benefits women more, anyway. Women generally take longer to get aroused than men, so tantric sex is more aligned with the feminine sexual response. A man taking his time with your entire body, and not rushing you or pressuring you to climax? It could be worse.
Getting Started With Tantric Sex
While tantric sex can be practiced both individually and with another person (or persons), tantra experts suggest starting solo.
If you shift your solo-sex practice, you can shift how you have sex with a partner. If you haven’t practiced this tantric shift in how you masturbate, it’ll be harder to allow it to happen with someone else. Use the five steps below to guide your solo play.
The first step is to “transform your bedroom into a temple,” says Sofia Sundari, international tantra teacher and founder of the Tantra Mystery School and the Priestess School.
Make sure it’s clean, choose music that puts you into a sensual mood, dim the light, use essential oils that are pleasant to your senses, and make sure the room temp is comfortable. “The ambiance you create should feel nourishing,” she says.
Now, try diaphragmatic breathing—also called relation, belly, or abdominal breathing. To try it, put one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
Take a deep breath through your nose and feel the sensation of your belly expanding.
Inhale for four counts, then slowly exhale through your mouth for four counts. This will help calm your adrenals and bring you into a relaxed state where a transcendental experience is possible.
Explore Your *Entire* Body
“Your whole body is your instrument of pleasure and expansion, not just your genitals,” says Sundari. That’s why she suggests exploring—spending extra time on your neck, chest, abdomen, inner thighs, and ankles, which are the body’s main “chakras” (AKA erogenous zones)—through self-massage and touch.
As you do this, pay attention to the sensations happening in your uterus, your pelvic floor, your cervix, and your vagina.
Surprise! The groin is also a chakra. If you’re feeling it, go ahead and touch yourself. But slow it down. Do everything twice as slowly as you usually do. In tantra, there’s a saying: Three strokes for thirty.
“This means it’s better to touch three times with exquisite consciousness than thirty times with a lack of full attention,” she explains.
So, can you use toys? Absolutely. We’re focused on building erotic energy, so however you want to do that—BDSM, vibrators, butt plugs—is allowed. But, it’s still important to slow it down and de-center the orgasm. Try running the toy down your abdomen and along your limbs to amplify the sensations.
Take It Up a Notch
Ready to take your solo play to the next level? Masturbate to the point of orgasm, but before you orgasm, don’t—stop it with a breath.
Breathe that orgasm up your body and into your heart. Then do that again. The third time, allow yourself to have a genital orgasm. As you do, breath into your heart and allow yourself to have a heart-orgasm at the same time.
How to Have Tantric Sex with a Partner
Want to try tantra with a partner? Combine the above steps with the below basic guidelines on having tantric sex. Tantric sex might look like every other type of sex on the outside, but what’s different is what’s happening on the inside.
Talk to Your Partner
First things first: You need to get a partner on board. If you have a significant other, approach the subject by saying something along the lines of, “I read about this and I’ve been practicing it, and it’s really trippy and pleasurable. It’s something I would like to try it with you.”
Present it as something that may be fun to try together. No long-term partner? No problem. That’s not a pre-requisite for tantric sex.
Ever have mid-romp thoughts like . . .
“What are we going to do next?”
“I wonder if I’ll be able to orgasm,”
“Will sex today be better (or worse) than it was yesterday?”
These thoughts take you out of your body and throw you into your anxious monkey mind.
Instead, use breath and asking yourself grounding questions like ‘Where am I feeling you most intensely?’ to tune into the present moment. You might try matching your breath to your partner’s.
Practice Eye Gazing
In other words: Make a lot of eye contact.
If you’ve never done it before, you’ll probably giggle or feel self-conscious at first. Just relax and keep breathing. You’ll soon drop into a kind of lovely hypnotic intimacy, unlike anything you’ve felt before.
And don’t half-ass it. Each time you kiss your loved one, kiss as if it is the last time you are kissing. Offer all of yourself into the kiss. If this sounds intense, that’s because it is—in tantra, kissing is called oral lovemaking, after all.
You should probably wait to have tantric sex until your roommates out of town—it can get loud. Making sounds helps people experience more pleasure, validates your partner, and helps you stay connected to each other.
Research shows those who moan during sex, have better sex.
Whether or not that includes dirty talk is up for debate within the tantra community. If it helps you go to the deep place of connection, it belongs.
However, some experts discourage a lot of words because the left side of the brain is where thinking and language happens, whereas the right side is what helps us go into a fantasy world. Using words to describe what you’re feeling can light up the left side and keep you from going fully into the right side.
Regardless, the point is to feel connected to your partner. So use your voice and sounds (whichever feels right for you) to facilitate that connection.
Try Different Tantric Sex Positions
Tantric sex is all about the connection, so as long as you’re connecting, there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Any position can be tantra-fied by slowing it down, adding eye gazing, and staying present.
Try experimenting with a position called “Yab Yum,” known as the tantric sex position: The penetrating partner sits cross-legged and the receiving partner straddles their lap, facing them, and wraps their laps around the partners lower back. (Note: the penetration here can happen vaginally or anally).
As you embrace, add in eye-gazing and breathing practices mentioned above, if you like. The embrace is sweet all by itself but it also allows you to control speed and depth, and to pull each other even closer.
Keep in mind that deep penetration can be painful for some folks, so foreplay, lube, and honoring your body are key.
Another tantric-inspired practice you can try is called the Daily Devotion, recommended by sex therapist and tantra practitioner Jacqueline Hellyer. The way it works is you and your partner spoon every day in the morning with him lying directly behind you. He inserts his penis into you and keeps it there for five to 10 minutes. Hellyer recommends, “Just lying there, breathing together. No movement, maybe the odd vaginal squeeze. Feel what happens.”
Bottom Line: Is Tantric Sex for Me?
Tantra welcomes everyone to the table, where you can be any sexuality, gender, ability, race, and class. Being a good “fit” for tantric sex is more about having the right mindset. Because it’s about slowing down and connection. The common denominator between people who try tantra is a feeling that there’s something more out there if they could just learn to let go and find it.
Sound like you? People have experienced profound, revelatory, intimate experiences by embracing tantra. Now, that’s quite the endorsement.