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Advanced Yoga Practices
Tantra Lessons
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Note: For the complete lessons, with additions, see the AYP Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.

Lesson T1 - What is tantra yoga?

From: Yogani
Date: Sun Jan 25, 2004 3:44pm

New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the AdvancedYogaPractices main group web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

It is funny, you know, how a perception has crystallized as tantra yoga has crept toward the mainstream of our modern society. The common perception for most these days is that tantra is about sex -- better sex, more ecstatic sex, more "spiritual sex." So the call of tantra has become, "Sex, sex, sex!" Do we have one-track minds, or what? It is natural enough. For most of us, the peak experience of our life is found in the sex act, particularly in the overwhelming pleasure of orgasm. So it is no surprise that we are a culture obsessed with sex – usually for it, sometimes against it, and always in awe of it. We all know that sex somehow connects us with a greater dimension of what we are. It is a fact that sex binds us together in love, family, and ultimately our spiritual life. So, of course we are obsessed with sex. It lies at the root of everything we are. It defines us. A deep desire we all have is to merge permanently with the ecstasy contained in this thing called "sex."

To unravel the ultimate mystery of sex, we will be wise to take a broad view of it. This is where tantra comes in.

What if I told you that tantra is mainly about meditation, pranayama, bandhas, mudras and asanas? All the things we have been talking about in AdvancedYogaPractices. It is true that tantra is mainly about those things. Yes, it is about sex too, as we have been facing up to in the main group lessons since early on. We have not skirted the issue of sex as it relates to the overall enlightenment process. Indeed, enlightenment is not possible if our sexuality is not brought into the process of yoga -- the process of union between our inner divine self and the outer world. In cultivating our nervous system toward that, the role of sexual energy must be addressed.

Tantra means "woven together," or "two fullnesses as one." It means the same as yoga really, with some intimacy added. Tantra recognizes from the start that there are two poles to be ecstatically merged for enlightenment to occur – father heaven and mother earth, masculine and feminine energies, shiva and shakti, yin and yang – and that these two poles are contained in us, in our nervous system. We have already discussed this from various practical angles in the lessons of AdvancedYogaPractices.

Tantra yoga is the broadest of all the yoga systems that approach life as two realities to be joined in the human nervous system. Included within tantra yoga are mantra yoga, kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, ashtanga (eight-limbed) yoga, and others. The practices contained in these traditional yoga systems comprise what is called the "right-handed" side of tantra yoga. Then there is the "left-handed" side of tantra yoga, which is concerned with infusing pure bliss consciousness into the indulgences of sensual life in the material world. The left-handed side is not opposed to sensual indulgences. In fact, it takes advantage of them for spiritual purposes. The left-handed side is sort of the underbelly of yoga, the part that upstanding citizens are supposed to stay away from. That is the traditional view anyway. That was before the "hip generation" got a hold of tantra. Now it is respectable to practice left-handed tantra. At least in the West it is. Maybe westerners don't have anything to lose, being so immersed in material living to begin with. Why not bring the spiritual side into material living? Let's have our cake and eat it too. It's got left-handed tantra written all over it.

So, in the lessons here we will take a closer look at left-handed tantra as it pertains to sexual methods. What you will find is that we will be connecting with things we have already discussed in the main group. We have done a full work-up on kundalini ("a code word for sex") over there, and begun stimulating sexual energy upward into the nervous system with important advanced yoga practices such as mulabandha, sambhavi, siddhasana and yoni mudra kumbhaka. All of these have been worked into the twice-daily routine of practices to be undertaken in steps according to our capacity.

Everything we have done so far has been from the root on up, above siddhasana, which is systematic stimulation at the perineum. Now, we are going to go below siddhasana, so to speak. It is necessary. For if we do not get a handle on the huge flows of prana involved in the sex act, we may find that we are limited in what we can accomplish spiritually in our nervous system. This does not mean we have to entertain the dreaded "C" word (celibacy). It does mean we will consider some intelligent methods to bring our sexual activities more in line with our spiritual aspirations. In fact, you may be surprised to find that intelligent spiritual sex can be far more enjoyable than the run-of-the-mill kind of sex which is sometimes characterized by the words, "Wham, bam, thank you Ma'am."

So, let's get into it.

The guru is in you.

Note: For detailed instructions on the methods of tantra, see the AYP Tantra book.

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