So often we get the question, “What’s Tantra Yoga?” Some may know it as the “yoga of sex” or the “sexy yoga” and think of it primarily as a way to achieve better orgasms.
And then there is the form of Yoga we have become so familiar with in the West, which has a studio at almost every street corner of our modern cities. We show up to a yoga studio, lay down our mat and practice our poses. That’s yoga, right? Yes, but that’s just one form of yoga called “Hatha” yoga.
Hatha yoga is the practice of the physical body. Tantra yoga is the practice of the energetic body.
What’s the “energetic body?” You can look at it this way: All matter is made up of energy frequency, as now proven by Quantum Physics. This includes our body. Life force energy is running through us human beings at all times from the moment we are conceived to the time we die. Life force energy is known by different names in different cultures, like Chi in Chinese, Kundalini in Sanskrit, Reiki in Japanese, or The Force like in Star Wars. Life force and sexual energy are the same. It’s the energy that brought us into this world. Most of the time life force sexual energy shows up in subtle states and then at times in aroused states. Tantric yoga allows to develop awareness of our life force energy and how it manifests in us on physical, emotional and mental levels.
To access energetic awareness we draw on the Chakra system of seven major energy centers in the body. Each Chakra is associated with a different way of sensing, feeling and reflecting. For example, the heart Chakra, located in the middle of the chest between the breasts, is associated with love and compassion, and the ability to connect with other people. This is seen when a person expresses love for something or someone and places their hand on their heart. We all know this experience. If the heart Chakra is out of balance and constricted, we may feel closed off to ourselves or from another. Other Chakras have other affects and all are equally important.
Connecting with our energy centers we can start to clear blocks of emotional, physical or spiritual nature so we may be living life to the fullest. These blocks do not just exist in the mind, they are held in the body. We look to the Chakras to see where we are out of balance. Through breath work, movement, meditation, and emotional and physical release processes, a person can clear these blocks and experience greater joy and aliveness in their life. What also ends up happening is the body starts “working” better, energy starts to flow more easily and we feel more awake and become physically well.
This is also the primary purpose of Hatha yoga – to allow one’s energy to flow more easily. Alignment is the main focus of any Hatha yoga class. The poses (a.k.a. “Asanas”) were designed to get a person’s body into optimal alignment. And not just for the sake of better posture; each pose has an energetic component behind it. For example, Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) is great physically for building strength in the quadriceps and gluteus but also energetically cultivates more courage and strength to face life’s challenges.
Tantra and Hatha yoga, therefore, start feeding into each other. For example, if a person is practicing a lot of Tantra they may find that their asana practice greatly improves. This is because as their energy runs better, their body naturally goes towards optimal alignment. Conversely, if a person is primarily a Hatha yoga practitioner, their body will start to release emotional blocks as they work on their alignment. This is why not everyone feels at peace or happy during a yoga class. As we start to breathe and stretch into our bodies, old emotions start to arise.
You can see Yoga comes in many shapes and forms. Tantra is one practice that leads toward deeper fulfillment and joy in one’s life. When practiced in partnership with Hatha yoga, a practitioner can experience strength and aliveness in both their physical and energetic body.