- So you are drawn to the world of Tantra? You have heard about working with sexual energy or opening to love, and want to know more? Or perhaps you have a spiritual practice such as yoga and you want to know how to integrate it into your everyday life and relationships?
So where on earth to start? Google “tantra” and you will be met with a range of offerings from seedy-looking sexual videos to yogis wearing white and sitting in meditation. You may have heard stories of dodgy sex gurus or wild orgies, and that may not be what you are looking for. Or perhaps you do want to explore sexuality in new ways, and you end up at a class meditating upon the breath for hours on end!
So this guide is intended to help you navigate around the rather broad world of Tantra to find what you are looking for and what serves your highest need.
Click on each green title below to read about the different types of Tantra.
What is it?
NeoTantra literally means “new tantra” (not to be confused with “The New Tantra” which is one particular school, not necessarily in this category).
NeoTantra is a modern approach to Tantra, and often an entry-point for many. What characterizes Neo Tantra is that it is largely focused on a psychotherapeutic approach rather than a more overt spiritual tantra or practice-based system.
What to expect
Classes are very experiential rather than theoretical, designed to help you break old patterns that limit you (conditioning) and empower you to feel free in your expression of being. There may be psychological processes, dancing, dynamic meditations, partner work, group work and massage. In fact there is often a big range of tools used at these workshops. Often there is little or no focus on ejaculation control or orgasmic techniques and usually there is no practice.
Osho often described the highest attainment of this path as being “totality”. This is being authentic, true and open.
Leading schools/ teachers of Neo Tantra:
Margot Ananda (Skydancing Tantra), Sarita (Tantra Essence), Charles Muir (Source Tantra), Ronja Sebastian, Ramya Norell, John Hawken. Most Osho Tantra teachers.
What is it?
You could either describe this as a type of Tantra that uses yoga, or as a type of yoga that uses Tantra! Compared to more common forms of yoga, what makes this different is that it focuses on the energy rather than the physical body. Opening energy channels and mastering energy flow is key. Most specifically working with sexual energy and channeling it upwards into more refined forms of energy, such as love and spiritual states. It also works with the famous “kundalini energy”, a very powerful energy that is known to transform karma, or old habits that keep us trapped in suffering and negative patterns.
The highest goal of Tantric Yoga is enlightenment and there are detailed series of steps to raise consciousness to highest states of realization.
What to expect
This is a dedicated path, and typical of traditional system is seen as a journey of several years rather than a one-off workshop experience. Having said that, huge benefits can be gained even from learning a few basics.
You can expect yoga classes focusing on the energy flow during and after each posture. You can expect many meditation techniques too. Many Tantric Yoga schools also add in rituals, often with men and women dressed as Gods and Goddesses, or wearing white, to awaken their divine potential. There is also usually a strong grounding in theory and studies of ancient tantric texts.
Tantric sex is usually a part of the teachings, as to loose sexual energy through ejaculation is seen as detrimental to raising consciousness. Some schools, describing themselves as the “right handed path” actually practice celibacy and just work with sexual energy within the individual. However this is very monistic (suiting monks and nuns and recluses!) and not so popular in modern society.
Leading schools/ teachers
Agama Yoga, Tara Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Wild Tantra.
What is it?
Strictly speaking the Taoist path is an offshoot of Tantra rather than a sub-category. However, it has so much overlap with Tantra that it is convenient to list it here.
Taoism is a branch of ancient Chinese spirituality that encompasses many levels including: healing and wellbeing, sexual arts, harmonious relationships and spiritual awakening.
Of all the paths it is probably the most detailed in its techniques for physical healing (the whole system of Traditional Chinese Medicine is based upon Taoist wisdom), so many people are drawn to heal sexual dysfunction or physical illness.
Sexual energy is seen as a source of vitality used for healing, wellbeing, as well as raising states of consciousness. Working with the energy also has the effect of transforming negative emotions into more positive states. The techniques also excel in detailed methods for cultivating sexual energy, raising it (full body orgasm), channeling it and integrating it. In partner work, couples learn to share and exchange energy in different ways, creating specific states of sacred union (tantric lovemaking).
What to expect?
This is a practice-based system, like Tantric Yoga, and the main practice is qigong or working with energy, as well as specific meditations. You may learn a whole series of techniques for ejaculation mastery, prolonged orgasm, heart opening and attaining states of meditation and bliss. You can access your multiorgsmic potential using your own practices, and do not even need a partner for this! Of course all the techniques learned can enhance the lovemaking of a couple.
Teaching style varies from teacher to teacher, and traditionally this is not a very flowery type of teaching! Teachers may simply teach technique in a step-by-step way, although there are more and more teachers offering this in a more juicy, tantric style. Initially the student may have to be patient as they learn the practices, but soon they will start to reap the beneficial results.
Leading Schools/ Teachers
Master Matak Chia (Universal Tao), Minke de Vos and Shashi Solluna (Tao Tantric Arts), Michael Winn (Healing Tao USA).
What is it?
There are some teachers offering “Tantra” which stays focused on sexuality rather than spirituality. Now traditional tantrics would not even call this tantra, but as many teachers are using that name, it is worth including it here so you can recognize it.
Sexual Tantra or “conscious sexuality” is a path that aims to bring conscious awareness to aspects of sexuality. In a sense to bring sexuality out of the dark! So this type of tantra is a response to the fact that many societies have an attitude to sexuality that results in a lot of guilt, shame and fear. This then has the effect of creating suppression or distortion of sexuality. So Sexual Tantra aims to heal those distortions and make sex a more healthy and conscious experience.
A lot of the other types of Tantra mentioned above will include as aspect of this, especially NeoTantra, but they include meditation that may not appear here.
What to expect?
There is a huge range here, and each teacher has different boundaries. Some teachers want to create space for total exploration, so there may even be full sexual activity (which rarely appears in the other categories of Tantra). There are many areas explored, including even S&M in some workshops. Some Sexual Tantra is more like a sex club with an element of conscious awareness added to it, rather than like a spiritual workshop. So it’s worth checking up on what to expect from each class and know what it is you want!
Leading teachers/ schools
Orgasmic Meditation, Layla Martin, Urban Tantra.
What is it?
Tantric massage is of course a technique, and may appear in any of the above types of Tantra. However, it is also a path in its own right, and some practitioners find this their entry point into Tantra and possibly even their only experience.
Tantric massage is bodywork that works with the sexual energy and often includes genital massage. Each style is different: some are used for healing sexual dysfunction, some for opening the body to be able to receive pleasure, and others focus specifically on raising the sexual energy (and some combine all three!)
What to expect?
You can either go as a client to receive a massage or go as a student to a workshop or training. Being a client is a frequent entry-point into this world. You may go for healing or to experience your sexual energy more. (See What is a Tantric Massage)
Tantric Massage courses can be from a casual taste of tantric massage to a full professional training. If you just want to experience the opening and healing for yourself, find a workshop. If you find huge benefits from this work, you may become interested in joining a full professional training. This is generally further down the path and not for complete beginners.
If you attend a course, you can expect to massage and be massaged! Mostly the partners are rotated, so everyone gets to practice on different bodies… so a certain degree of openness is required! However, there are some teachers who encourage couples to attend, which may feel more comfortable. Check in beforehand!
Tantric De-amouring is a new catchphrase that falls into this category. It is about removing layers of defense and protection that have built up around the sexual organs and body, with the intention of opening you up. This varies from painful styles, vibratory methods to more gentle releases, so check beforehand.
Tantric Energy Massage is also on the increase. It is a specific way of raising the energy up through the body, inducing a kind of full body orgasm. What is often surprising about this is that it is usually done with clothes on and no genital contact! It uses movement, breath and sound to release blocks. It leaves the recipient feeling very opened and released.
Leading teachers/ Schools
Sexological Bodywork, John Hawken, Ronja Sebastian, Ananda Wave Massage, Mike Lousada.
Also check our article on how to find a genuine Tantra Massage…
What is it?
This is the academic branch of Tantra. Not really entry-level stuff, except to philosophers. In fact it rarely touches the modern world of Tantra workshops… they are two worlds pretty far apart!
However, it is the foundation of Tantra and indeed where the word even comes from. “Tantra” means “to weave”, recognizing the interconnectedness of life. The word is also used to describe the ancient Tantric texts themselves.
What to Expect
Many of the original texts are extremely hard to digest, written in Sanskrit with heavy use of specific terminology. Not only that but they are frequently describing high spiritual states not accessible to your average householder! On top of that, the texts are often translated by academics rather than practitioners and can therefore end up being quite dry, or even misunderstood.
However, having said all of that, there is a huge amount of incredible wisdom and guidance within these texts and when accessed it can be hugely elevating. Some practitioners of Tantra like to read the texts to support, guide or validate their own experiences.
What the academics do is offer different translations of the texts and also often commentaries. If one particular translation doesn’t do it for you, don’t give up! Try another version and you may just find the one that lights you up!
Leading Authors/ Translators
Daniel Odier, Dr. Mark Dyczkowski, Arthur Avalon.
I have added this category just to bring the point of awareness that some teachers have studied several paths and may themselves offer a fusion of styles. Not everyone fits neatly into a category!
And so, this is a basic guide to types of Tantra you might find as you embark on the journey.
Which one is for you?
Well, you would be advised to see were you have a natural resonance, a calling and an expansion and move in that direction. Sometimes it is not the type of Tantra that calls you so much as a particular teacher’s energy, so follow your inner guidance as well as recommendations from trusted friends.
Don’t be afraid to contact a teacher to ask more about what they offer to help find the right workshop for you.
Good luck and many blessings on your path!
Did you find this article useful? Have you been trying to decide what type of Tantra to try? What are you looking for?
Share your insights with us in the comments below….