In a small, dimly lit studio in New York City’s Flatiron District, I sat on a yoga mat drinking kombucha. I was going through a breakup, a pretty harsh one. I had decided to join this motley crew of yoga neophytes in an attempt to heal without crawling back to my therapist - whom I’d also recently broken up with.
Tantric yoga. Sex and meditation. Something called to me and I knew I needed to explore it. Tantric yoga felt like the healing practice I needed right now. I was willing to try anything to feel better. When you’re spending most days on the brink of a mental breakdown, you’re pretty much willing to explore all options.
This class was sponsored by Dame Products, a feminist sex toy company that empowers women to take control of their sexuality. It’s one of my favorite feminist sex tech groups. So, here I was - slightly skeptical, but willing to learn. Heartbroken and a little kombucha-buzzed, I felt safe and at home.
Yoga and Sex
Yoga is great for the spirit. If you look up the definition of yoga it reads as follows: “A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation."
The definition of Tantra, as it turns out, is very similar: “A Hindu or Buddhist mystical or ritual text, dating from the 6th to the 13th centuries. Adherence to the doctrines or principles of the tantras, involving mantras, meditation, yoga, and ritual.”
Tantric yogis will tell you that when you combine the two, you get something very special; something very sexually liberating and awakening.
“Tantra is a way of life - it's the awakening of the senses in the body and the quickest path to bliss and liberation,” said Tatiana Dellepiane, our instructor. “It is an ancient science system created in India thousands of years ago where they used the energetic development system called chakras in the body, which represent an area of your life.”
Perched on the hardwood floor, I was surrounded by women, each on matching mats. We were here to learn Tantric yoga, an ancient practice that unlocks your sexual energy while combining all the classic elements of yoga. This was certainly my kind of scene.
Tatiana, a luscious, curvaceous woman with waist-length hair, took us through the lesson, instructing us to breathe into different positions and feel everything in our cores and vulvas. She’s a professional Tantra and yoga expert. We were certainly in good hands.
We pushed ourselves into bridge position, breathing through our bodies all the while. We moved into more challenging poses, focusing on our bodies. We meditated and reflected on ourselves as powerful, capable women. This practice is about sexual energy, sure, but Tantric yoga isn’t all about sex.
“Tantra yoga consists of meditation, breathwork, mantra and asanas. Tantra is not about sex," Dellepiane tells me. "Sex is just a part of it. Tantra activates the sexual energy in the body so you live your life to your greatest potential. That's why this energy is so powerful. It's creative, life-force energy. Sexual energy is the rocket fuel to manifesting your desires. Tantra yoga helps integrate the mind, body and spirit together so that you can feel whole.”
A practice that helps you connect to yourself as a whole, full being awash with sexual potential and raw energy? That, I have to say, is a pretty sexy thing to behold. In a class full of gorgeous, amazing women, the coursing vitality was palpable. It’s hard to explain how connected we felt to each other. It was just ... there.
Tantra and Shakti
Tatiana teaches a special practice, a subsect of classic tantra, Shakti Tantra Yoga. It is powered by the unique female energy, which is often represented by Shakti. I think we can all get behind that, can’t we? Power to the woman.
“This lineage taught about sexual energy, teachings that were kept hidden in India because of religious taboos,” she says. “They teach that sex is sacred and was tied to pleasure which was to be given to [the] Goddess as an offering. There was a time where Priestesses prayed to their own bodies and other people's bodies. The ancient lineage, Sri Vidya, is about worshiping yourself and your life like you worship the Goddess. It helps you fall in love deeper with yourself. Incorporating Tantra in your life helps create deeper connection and intimacy with yourself and others.”
The forty-five minute class flew by. I didn’t exactly walk away less heartbroken, but I was certainly more centered and relaxed. Dellepiane says that Tantric yoga helps boost serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, the feel-good chemicals that naturally elevate your state of mind. It also lifts the entire spirit. “Sensuality and pleasure is healing for the whole body because when you practice these techniques, it actually rewires your whole nervous system,” she says.
If you’re going through some shit, be it a sexual block, heartbreak, or the mysterious loss of orgasm, I’d certainly recommend getting yourself into a Tantric yoga class. It may not fix everything, but it will certainly help you connect with your inner power and sensuality.