What is tantra yoga and what does it have to do with sexuality? The word tantra yoga refers to the esoteric teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism, which developed in India during the first half of the 1st century CE. The word tantra, in both the Indian philosophies, means any detailed, generally applicable “text, philosophy, method, tool, technique or exercise.” Therefore, a tantra teacher may teach tantra yoga or explain the techniques and benefits of this ancient science.
Tantra was once considered a taboo practice in India. Its teachings were rejected and those who practiced it were shunned and humiliated. In fact, according to one legend, a tantra goddess once told an ascetic yogi, “He who practices yoga is like a transgressor going against the divine oneness… his whole being is a violation of the divine oneness.”
Tantra yoga seeks to merge our consciousness with the Supreme, or Shiva. The sacred yoga practices that are part of the tantric system – yoga asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), dharana (concentration), niyamas (observances) and jnana (knowledge) – have been traditionally regarded as extremely auspicious and energizing. The yogic deities associated with these practices – Shiva, Brahma and Dakini – are viewed as eternal, perfect beings whose existence is unconditional and whose work is to unite the world of yoga with the realm of glory. This divine Oneness is described in various sutras (chants) and as yonibedha (cessation of birth).
Tantra yoga’s ultimate aim is to create a union with Shiva – the sole Lord, the worshiped God of the Yoga Sutras – at the root of one’s being. This union – the oneness – is symbolized in various tantric rituals and meditations. The ultimate goal of these activities is to draw one closer to Shiva and let him enjoy the divine oneness with the devotee. In this way, tantra yoga’s oneness with the sacred is made absolute.
In tantra yoga, the oneness between the practitioner and Shiva is made absolute through the use of a series of ritual mudras. These mudras manipulate the chakras and allow them to be moved in accordance with the wishes of the devotee. They are not mere symbols of power; on the contrary, they are tools for activating the already inherent power within the yogi.
The oneness achieved by these yoga techniques is said to be koala – which literally means “greatness of Oneness”. It is this oneness that allows the Yogi to transform into a cherubic (celestials) being, enjoying divine life even while in physical form. Because the physical body – which is but a reflection of the spiritual nature – is so vulnerable to attacks from outside sources, the oneness achieved in yoga is particularly important. This is why many modern yoga practitioners incorporate spiritual aspects of their daily practices into their routines.
When the oneness achieved in yoga is combined with the empowerment of Shiva, the Yogi enjoys an unprecedented spiritual gift: he is capable of changing his destiny, for better or worse, with the push of a single button. What is more, because the oneness achieved through these tantric yoga techniques is the very oneness which will be experienced both in the body and spirit, whatever obstacles are brought into the physical body are also removed – at least for the time being. This empowerment of Shiva over the human realm makes these yogic techniques highly effective against the fears and phobias that plague us on the physical plane.
The amazing thing about Tantra yoga techniques, as Dr Michael Bernard Beckwith explains in his book Ashtanga Yoga, is that while they are effective against internal obstacles, they can also be used to overcome external ones. As a matter of fact, Tantric yoga techniques can even help the human body in overcoming its deepest fears and inhibitions, and achieving a state of dynamic openness where ignorance has no place. In other words, whatever problems a human might have, there is always a way out of it, provided he learns and applies the right Asana or Vinyasa (active) yoga techniques. Only then will the Asana perform its magic: transforming the human mind, body and spirit into an immaculate temple of power, grace and consciousness.