Tantric sex: the ancient spiritual practice that promises to transform your sex life (and why you should try it)

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    Ask anyone about tantric sex and they’ll probably tell you two things.

    a. that it’s meant to be amazing

    b. that they don’t actually have a clue what it involves.

    Sure, you’ve all heard the rumours about those steamy sessions which supposedly last for hours on end, but just how much of this is actually true? And if it is, how do you do it?

    We’ve bought you guides to the best sex toys for women, best male sex toys, and best eco sex toys. Next up? Your complete guide to tantric sex, with guidance from four sex experts. Keep scrolling for all the answers you’ve been waiting for…

    So, what’s the tantric sex definition? 

    Well, according to trained sex and relationship counsellor for Lovehoney, Annabelle Knight, tantric sex is a slow, meditative form of sex where the end goal is not orgasm, but enjoying the sexual journey and sensations of your body. “It aims to move sexual energy throughout the body for healing, transformation, and enlightenment. Think the kind of sex that is a mind-altering journey,” she explains.

    In the experts’ words, it’s an exploration of how much deeper, dynamic, healing, creative, and inspiring sex can be when you allow it to be about more than just the orgasm.

    You might have invested in some couples sex toys, but this is taking things far deeper spiritually, too. As Ferly sex practitioner Georgia Rose explains, tantric sex “incorporates rituals, visualisation, mindful breathing techniques and slow movements that ground us, connecting us to pleasurable moments – in ourselves and with others.”

    So while tantric sex can give you mind-blowing orgasms, this isn’t actually what it’s all about. “Tantra is the union of sex, heart and spirit, bringing all of these into not just our sexual experiences, but into our life,” adds sex coach Sarah Rose Bright. “It invites us be really conscious about who and how we are as a sexual being.”

    But, of course, the improved sex is a part of this as together, sex and orgasm are believed to equate to the highest level of spiritual awareness.

    Tantric sex practitioner Layla Martin made a good analogy recently. She shared: ‘what makes spiritual sexuality different from your everyday sex, is the same as what makes yoga different from stretching, and meditation different from just sitting.’

    Tantric sex: A young couple kiss on a bed

    Where does tantric sex originate from? 

    Believed to have originated from India over 5000 years ago, ‘Tantra’ is a combination of spirituality and sexuality that can lead to enlightenment, shares Knight.

    Rose seconds this, adding that the practice of tantra focuses around slow, meditative, ritualised practices.

    “Through your practice, you can access sexual ecstasy and the divine. Sex is treated as having a higher purpose – it is not merely a physical, mechanical experience. It is a portal through which we can find ‘one-ness’ and transcendence,” she explains.

    So how did the practice of tantra reach the UK? Well, with confusion. “When the tantras were first translated into English around 200 years ago, they shocked British colonialists who assumed tantra was little more than a sex cult,” Knight shares. “This misunderstanding has continued to frame the Western conception of tantra to this day,” she goes on.

    Needless to say, modern tantra is still widely practiced. Although it is markedly different from the teachings contained within the medieval tantras, its followers still look to sexual energy as a source of enlightenment, the sex expert shares.

    While tantra has this reputation of promoting uninhibited sex, promiscuity could not be further from its original point, or so says certified love, sex and relationship therapist at Zoe Clews & Associates, Andrea Balboni. “Its original focus is to enable full spiritual awakening via direct interaction with your sexual energy.”

    Tantric sex: A lesbian couple kiss on a bed

    Are any celebrities fans of tantric sex? 

    The Police star Sting originally introduced tantric sex to the mainstream media in 1990. You’ll likely remember his comment, where his casually mentioned a seven-hour tantric sex session he’d had with his wife, Trudie Styler. It’s still being discussed over 30 years later.

    Turns out they weren’t actually having sex for seven hours, but incorporating the tantric act of building up to the main event in their love making. On the matter, he said: “The idea of tantric sex is a spiritual act. I don’t know any purer and better way of expressing a love for another individual than sharing that wonderful, I call it, ‘sacrament.’ Seven hours includes a movie and dinner!”

    Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks have both also shared that they’ve tried it.

    So, why should I try tantric sex? 

    Tantric sex is about getting to know your body more intimately, the experts emphasise. Like yoga, meditation and mindfulness, tantra is all about physical and spiritual awareness.

    In short, when you learn and practice tantra, you become more in-tune with your body, what gives it pleasure, and the way it feels pleasure. This allows you to pay better attention to your body’s wants and needs and make sure they’re fulfilled.

    Plus, the energies you channel during tantric sex flow throughout your body and can intensify your orgasm. Still not convinced? Scroll the following ‘pros’ you could experience if you try tantric sex for yourself.

    • You could experience a deeper connection with a partner, or ‘connection amplified’, as Balboni puts it.
    • You could experience sex that becomes healing, empowering, or profoundly beautiful.
    • You could experience altered states of consciousness – some call these the ‘bliss states’, Balboni shares.
    • You could experience full body pleasure.
    • You could experience the expansive and elevating potentials of sex.

    “Within the sex coaching practice, I might recommend Tantric sex to a spiritually-open couple who feels sexually stale or stuck, as it allows them to open the dynamic and the dimensions of their own relationship,” explains Rose. “By removing the goal of orgasm, it allows couples to relax and experience the pleasure of the moment. Tantric sex may help them go on intimate journeys together that they have never been on before.”

    Sound good? You’re so welcome. (Pssst: read our guide to the best sex toys for couples, while you’re here).

    Tantric sex: A young couple kiss

    10 top tips for for tantric sex for beginners

    Tantra takes time to master. The whole point of the practice is to actually delay your orgasm, which many – especially men – may initially find frustrating, rather than a turn on. Follow the below techniques from the pros to master tantric sex as a beginner.

    “The key is not to focus too closely on your orgasm, explains Knight. Instead, try and prolong the foreplay for as long as possible before reaching climax.

    1. Set the mood

    Get some scented candles, turn off your phone and prepare to devote at least two hours to your lover.

    2. Loosen your body

    Tantra is about moving energy through the body, so shake your limbs vigorously to energise and unblock your system before you start.

    3. Stay off the bed

    This will trigger the sleep button in your brain. Tantra is not about a quick romp – you are seeking a deep connection.  Get comfortable by lying on the floor with your partner using some cushions.

    4. Stimulate your senses.

    Sight is the most powerful of the senses, so it’s important to look good. Wear some sexy lingerie, decorate the room with some fresh flowers.

    To stimulate your sense of smell, use oils like rose, ylang-ylang and jasmine.

    On the audio front, you could even sing to your partner, or whisper intimately into their ear. Not so keen? Playing their favourite music will work, too.

    Taste wise, melted chocolate, honey and fresh fruit all work. As the sex becomes more intimate, you should apply them to body parts and lick them off.

    And finally, touch. Massage their extremities – head, neck, hands and feet, and more.

    5. Get closer

    Sit face-to-face – with the woman on the man’s lap if this is comfortable. Wrap your hands tightly around each other and press your bodies against each other. “This kind of skin contact promotes greater feelings of intimacy,” shares Knight.

    6. Let foreplay become intimate

    Take your time and leisurely make your way around their body. “Try a variety of touches – firm massage, light feathery touches, and gentle stroking. The aim here is to heighten your lover’s senses in a slow and intense way so that you’re building them up to a peak but stopping just short before the orgasm,” explains Knight.

    Oral sex now is fine, but not to the point of climax. Remember, you are aiming to make the pleasure last for hours.

    7. Stand up opposite each other

    Look in each other’s eyes and place your left hand on your partner’s heart. He should do the same to you. Match each other’s breathing for at least two minutes.

    8. Try some role play

    If it turns you on, use a blindfold. Take it turns – one could even be submissive and one dominant, shares Knight.

    9. Progress beyond foreplay to intercourse

    Avoid any position that you know makes you orgasm easily. Work towards a gradual build-up of pleasure. “The slower you take it, the more intense the orgasm will be at the end,” Knight stresses.

    10. As you are both reaching orgasm, slow your breathing down.

    This will seem illogical as most of us breath more quickly as we approach climax. Women, in particular, can tense up at this stage of sex as they try to make themselves come.

    “Instead, relax your tummy and take long, slow deep breaths,” Knight recommends. “Your orgasm will last longer and be more intense.”

    Rose adds that breathing is one of the most important elements of tantric sex, and so to really hone in on yours, if you’re comfortable doing so. “Breathing is key. Inhale through the nose and to exhale through the mouth, using sound. The use of sound upon the exhale supports a release and a sense of letting go, whilst encouraging a dropping down into the body. Liberate yourself using sounds,” she encourages.

    Think heavy sighs, deep guttural growls, funny noises and even screams – they’re all welcome in tantric breath-work. Why? Well, “the practice helps to transition us into a much more embodied, grounded and present space – which is essential for sex,” Rose explains.

    And remember – don’t give up

    If you don’t last beyond 10 minutes, try again. “Tantric sex takes time to get to grips with because we’re all used to sex in a Western way – sex with an obvious start, middle and end,” explains Knight. She encourages you to use your imagination. Your sex life could go off in all sorts of new directions, thanks to tantra.

    3 tantric sex resources

    Tantric Sex Guide: Your Guide to Tantric Sex, Massage and better sex with your partner, Amazon, £4.60

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    The Heart of Tantric Sex: A Unique Guide to Love and Sexual Fulfillment, Amazon, £5.79

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    The New Art of Sexual Ecstasy: Following the Path of Sacred Sexuality Paperback, Amazon, £11.09

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