Tantra denotes the esoteric spiritual traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism that evolved in India in the first millennium CE. The word tantra, in both the Indian, classical traditions, also denotes any precise, detailed, generally applicable “system, doctrine, method, tool, or process”. The history of tantra can be divided into two major events: the early medieval period (ca. 600 CE) and the post-classical period (ca. 1200 CE). The history of yoga, too, can be divided into three important periods: early classical yoga (ca. 500 CE), yogic yoga (in India and Sri Lanka), and sadhana (in Tibet and Nepal). In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in tantra in the West and the United States. This new interest is partly motivated by an increased interest in yoga, and the desire to find alternative medicine and therapies that are based on an ancient tradition that is still widely practiced in these parts of the world.
Yoga and tantra do not and should not necessarily correlate. Yoga can be a comprehensive lifestyle and one that include physical exercise, meditation, and relaxation techniques; and, on the other hand, tantra can be a highly specific, directed set of instructions for intimate, magical, and intimate acts between a willing partner. Tantra and yoga complement each other, and do not attempt to contradict each other. However, while yoga focuses extensively on inner awareness, tantra stresses the importance of using one’s breathing and physical movements to connect the mind, body, and spirit.
In the tantric teachings of India, energy flows continuously through every part of the body – including the sexual organs. This energy flow is known as the Brahma energy flow, which is said to be coiled like a serpent three and a half times around the base of the spine. When this energy flow is allowed to freely flow without restriction, it creates a union with its counterpart: the prana energy flow. This prana energy flows along the nerve pathways, and is the source of sexual stimulation. A tantra teacher is able to redirect this energy flow in order to direct it in a constructive way, creating a powerful connection between the conscious mind and the underlying power of life.
A tantra master can redirect this energy flow to recreate a sacred temple in his partner’s body – a union of both bodies that has been called a tantra temple. The concept of temple is closely related to the tantric principles of sex and love. In tantra sex, two partners are said to be made one by the union of their breath and their soul. A tantra teacher who can redirect the breath and soul of his student in this way can help her achieve a state of true worship and powerful intimacy with her partner.
This form of worship or intimacy is not limited to physical intimacy. A tantra master who is able to redirect the breath and soul of his student in this way can instruct her to go on a spiritual journey together. In tantra practice, this sort of relationship – which is sometimes described as polarity – is considered highly sacred. Each polarity has a corresponding symbol in tantric mythology. For instance, the black stone Bija is associated with menstrual pains and infertility. Red Jasper is associated with menstruation and childbirth, and the green stone Vya’.
To redirect the breath and soul of your partner in this way, begin by keeping her eyes fixated on you. Then, while still seated in the posture normally used in tantra meditation, bring her hand down to her side and place your right hand in her lap. Bring her hand up to your chest, using the other three fingers to guide her hand there. This tantra technique, known as the left hand in Indian tantra and the right hand in Chinese astrology, guides you and your partner to the state of perfect worship, which is tantra ecstasy.