What is Tantra, and Should You Try It?

What do Sting and the music producer formerly known as P Diddy (now Sean Love Combs, just FYI) both have in common? A publicly-professed love of tantric sex… and humlebrags about tantra sessions that have lasted in excess of 30 hours. That might seem like the epitome of sexual prowess to some, and an absolute nightmare to others but it begs the question: what exactly is tantra? And could it be the key to heightening your sexual experiences, lasting longer in bed and connecting more deeply with your lovers?

What is Tantric Sex?

Originating more than 5000 years ago, Tantra (meaning woven together in Sanskrit) is an ancient Indian practice that combines spirituality, mindfulness and sexuality while emphasising the importance of intimacy during a sexual experience. Tantra is about celebrating your body and feeling heightened sensuality – and it’s a practice you can enjoy solo or with a partner.

While most of us think of sexual pursuits in terms of reaching the gratification of an orgasm, the goal of tantric sex is to achieve spiritual or energetic contact during a sensual experience. This practice is slow and the aim is not always to achieve orgasm. Instead, it’s about feeling a connection either to your partner or to yourself that’s both intense and enlightened. It includes breathing, sounds, and movements to activate sexual energy.

The Key Principles of Tantric Sex

There are a lot of misconceptions about tantric sex, but one of the most common is that it’s all about wild and uninhibited all-night sex sessions. While tantric techniques can open you up to new sensations, it’s as much a mental practice as a spiritual one.

Conscious Awareness: Tantric sex encourages partners to be fully present during their intimate moments. This means letting go of distractions, tuning out the endless cycle of chatter in your head, and focusing on the sensations and energies exchanged between lovers.

Breathwork and Energy Flow: Not to be confused with breath play (an entirely different kettle of fish!) breathwork – or conscious breathing – is a fundamental aspect of tantric sex. By breathing in sync, partners aim to harmonise their energy and create a deeper connection. In Tantra, breathwork is thought to help to circulate and expand sexual energy throughout the body, leading to heightened sensations and a more profound sense of unity.

Sensual Touch and Massage: An important element of tantric sex is sensual touch and conscious caressing. Partners explore each other's bodies with intention and mindfulness, embracing the entire spectrum of sensations. Slow and deliberate movements, coupled with gentle massage, are believed to awaken dormant energy centers and foster a heightened state of arousal.

Delayed Gratification: Tantric sex emphasises prolonged pleasure rather than immediate release or climax. By slowing down the pace and extending the experience, partners can build anticipation and intensify their connection. This practice also helps to cultivate sexual energy, which practitioners of tantra believe can be channelled towards spiritual growth and transformation. 

Benefits of Tantric Sex

Fans of tantric sex say the practice is about celebrating the sacredness of our bodies and desires. Tantra offers some other key physical and spiritual benefits, including:

  • Deeper emotional intimacy and trust
  • Enhanced communication
  • Releasing of sexual shame and trauma
  • Heightened sensual pleasure
  • Experiencing of full-body and/or multiple orgasm
  • Spiritual connection

How to Get Started with Tantric Sex

Tantra isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something you’d like to explore alone or with your partner, there are tons of resources available to help you start your tantric journey. Listening to an audio book on tantra with your partner can be a great way to start the conversation, or you can jump right in and learn the fundamentals with an online workshop.