Tantric yoga is a yoga practice aligned with tantra - an ancient Indian practice dating back over 5,000 years. Tantra weaves together yogic, mindfulness, and meditative practices with the goal of cultivating deeper self-awareness, self-love, and self-acceptance. Contrary to popular belief, tantra is not only about sex, though the practice does help expand consciousness to create deeper connections with yourself and your partner that may lead to increased pleasure.
What Is Tantra?
In Sanskrit, the root of tantra is tan, which means, "to weave, expand, put forth." Tantra suggests that everything is interconnected and that the divine forces that operate the universe also operate each individual's life experience.
Tantra is not just about sex, although increased pleasure is certainly an added benefit to practicing tantric yoga. Tantra is derived from the more spiritual style of Kundalini yoga. Many Kundalini yoga poses can be considered tantric if you perform them simultaneously with a partner.
5 Tantric Yoga Positions
If you practice Hatha yoga, you're already familiar with some of the poses and breathing exercises fundamental to tantra. To enjoy tantric yoga with a partner, these five beginner tantric yoga positions are a good place to start.
Modify any of these poses as you see fit to increase the opportunity for prolonged eye contact and touching. Remember: size does not matter in these yoga positions. Partners of different sizes can still practice tantric yoga today and enjoy the benefits. Though these positions all involve working with a partner, you can practice tantra solo if you prefer.
Perform the seated spinal twist position as a way to warm the spine and stretch the hips. This position can increase flexibility and deepen your connection with your partner. It's important to communicate openly with your partner while engaged in this pose. Be sure to tell each other if something feels uncomfortable or painful.
- Sit in a comfortable seated position with your knees touching your partner's.
- Sit up straight with your chest slightly forward, shoulders back, and chin pointed slightly down so the crown of your head points to the sky.
- Place your left arm behind your back and extend your right arm out. Have your partner do the same.
- Grasp your partner's left hand with your right hand. Your partner should grasp your left hand with their right hand. You will need to twist your bodies to reach each other's hands.
- Gently twist as far as you and your partner are comfortable going. If you want to twist more deeply, your partner must do so as well.
- Hold the position for as long is comfortable, then return to the center. Switch sides, and repeat the exercise, twisting to the opposite side.
Yoga warrior poses can be performed in tantric yoga. These poses are said to increase focus and boost your courage and determination. Aim to maintain eye contact while you are in the pose to foster your connection.
- Stand with the toes of your right foot touching the toes of your partner's right foot.
- Both you and your partner step back with your left foot, turning your toes out at a 45-degree angle.
- Bend your front knees and straighten your spines.
- Drop your shoulders back, square your hips toward one another, and raise your arms above your heads.
- Repeat on the other side.
Use boat pose to strengthen your abdominals, hips, and spine. Boat pose may help increase body awareness and help you build trust and confidence in one another.
- Sit facing one another with your legs out in front of you and your knees slightly bent.
- With your knees bent, move forward until you can place the soles of your feet against your partner's and hold each other's hands.
- Lean back and push your feet against your partner's.
- Slowly straighten your legs, keeping the soles of your feet touching.
- To deepen the stretch and connection, slowly bend your knees again, keeping your feet touching, and move your legs apart in a straddle.
- Straighten your knees again with your legs on the outsides of your arms.
Downward Facing Dog
You may be used to entering downward facing dog on on your own, but this pose can also be performed as a partner position with one of you supporting the other. This pose helps strengthen the upper body and release tension and stress. It is thought to provide balance for the body and mind. With a partner, downward facing dog helps build trust and improve communication.
- Have your partner get into Downward Facing Dog.
- Stand about 18-inches in front of them.
- Bend down and place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
- Lift one leg and place your foot on your partner's shoulder.
- Lift the other leg and place it on your partner's shoulder.
- Walk your feet up your partner's back until you reach their hips.
- Push your heels back and rotate your shoulders forward.
- Switch positions with your partner and repeat the steps.
Legs Up the Wall
Legs up the wall pose is a restorative posture that can be performed with your partner in child's pose so you both rest at once. This pose is excellent for relieving stress with your partner and may help promote relaxation and a shared sense of calm.
- Have your partner get into child's pose with their arms extended or relaxed.
- Sit on your partner's hips facing away from their head.
- Lay back on your partner, allowing your spine to follow the curve of their spine.
- Raise your legs in the air.
- Switch positions with your partner and repeat the steps.
Other Resources for Learning Tantric Yoga Poses
Nearly any yoga position can be done in the tantric style. There are many helpful tantra yoga resources available online, including:
- Vira Bhava Yoga: Free live and recorded online tantra yoga and meditation classes.
- Anmol Mehta: Offers a free online tantra yoga class
- Tantra Illuminated: Online and in-person tantric yoga courses, webinars, and retreats. There is a monthly membership fee, but you can try the free 7-day trial to determine if this resource is the right fit for you and your partner.
- Tantra Lovers: Free online tantra courses
- Ashaya Yoga: Offers free tantric yoga and meditation courses. Holds a free Facebook Live session every Tuesday.
The more you learn from these resources and from your practice, the more you will learn about yourself and each other. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to do the poses you try together. Practicing tantric yoga and moving through the asanas together can help you and your partner build trust, improve communication, enhance your physical connection and forge a stronger bond.