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Lesson T16 - Q&A – What is the best tantric practice?

From: Yogani
Date: Thu Mar 11, 2004 2:10pm

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of this tantra yoga archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "What is tantra yoga?"

Q: I have read many books on tantra, and I'm still not sure what it is. Is it about sex, or is it about yoga? What is tantric practice, and is there a "best" tantric practice?

A: Tantra is very misunderstood in the West due to over-embracing of the sexual aspect, and in the East due to under-embracing of the sexual aspect.

In both cases the sexual aspect is an obsession, either for or against. It is because sex is about deeply personal pleasure. We are all fascinated by deep pleasure, especially our own. It is a preoccupation, a fixation, which makes it a hazard to yoga. But without sex, there can be no higher yoga, so it has to be addressed.

What is tantra? Of course, from the first lesson here, you know it is everything in yoga from top to bottom, and from left to right.

If you are asking, "What is the definition of tantric sexual practice?" Then I have to say it is one word - "Brahmacharya." By that, I do not mean celibacy, though it can be that. What I mean is preservation and cultivation of sexual energy as part of the whole of yoga practices. Genital orgasm is not part of that. We go for orgasm because we need it to satisfy our reproductive urge. Genital orgasm has little to do with spiritual progress, except as it is expanded (preorgasmically) to unending whole body ecstasy. The rise of whole body ecstasy is nature's way of calling us to the spiritual realms, just as orgasm is her way of calling us to reproduction.

Hence, any teaching that claims to give a bigger, longer, or better orgasm is not really tantric. It is only about having better sex, which is what most people are looking for. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But let's be clear about our yoga.

Are these lessons anti-orgasm? No. We cannot deny our humanity. We just do our best to nudge ourselves toward the divine using the best means we can find. We will slip off this way or that way every day. It doesn't matter. What matters is our continued favoring of the principles and practices that purify and open the nervous system. Life can become an easy sort of meditation, like that. Just favoring natural principles that enable our nervous system to purify and open itself. Nothing is accomplished by negative judgments. So, when we slip, we just pick up and keep going in the direction we know leads home. That is part of tantric sex too, part of the process of brahmacharya - gently favoring preservation and cultivation of sexual energy through thick and thin, without judgment.

What is the best tantric practice? In terms of consistently preserving and cultivating sexual energy, the hands-down winner is siddhasana.

"But that isn't having sex!" you cry.

That is correct. We have the methods discussed here in the tantra group for working towards staying in principle (preservation and cultivation) during sexual relations. But how often do we have sex every day? And for how long in front of orgasm? And how about without orgasm? Taken as daily spiritual practice, tantric sex is hit or miss at best. Certainly, tantric sex is wonderful, and a definite aid on the path. It can be taken to great heights by skilled partners. Even so, over the long run, it doesn't hold a candle to a steady disciplined diet of siddhasana during our regular sitting practices twice every day. This is why siddhasana wins. It is twice daily for 30 minutes or more. It is stimulative and always preorgasmic, once stabilized as a regular part of our practices. Doing it simultaneously with pranayama and meditation has the powerful benefit of cultivating sexual energy while our nervous system is engaged in deep spiritual processes, so the effects of siddhasana and all concurrent practices are amplified.

If siddhasana becomes orgasmic (perhaps in the learning stage), it can also be used by a man for blocking ejaculation, simply by leaning forward on the heel. The heel then does what the fingers do in blocking at the perineum. Siddhasana is an all-purpose tantric practice.

If you want to review, the particulars of siddhasana are covered in lessons #33 & #75 in the main group.

Does this mean everyone has to forget about sexual relations and just sit in siddhasana every day? Of course not. Siddhasana is a foundation tantric practice for serious yogis and yoginis. Siddhasana means "seat of the perfected ones" for a reason. If siddhasana is there during pranayama, meditation and other sitting practices, the foundation for tantric practice is there, no matter what else may happen with sex. Beyond that, do whatever comes naturally in your sex life. If you are devoted to your yoga, you will find yourself naturally drawn to the principles of preservation and cultivation in your sexual relations. The methods given in these lessons (holdback and blocking) are easy to learn, and are very effective. There are
more complex methods one can use. Whatever tantric practices you choose, the underlying principles of brahmacharya remain the same – preservation and cultivation of sexual energy.

In the end, what matters in yoga is the permeation of our body and surroundings with ecstatic bliss. If we have accomplished that, then exactly how we handled sexual energy is a moot point.

If we apply the underlying principles, we will get the results.

The guru is in you.

Note: For detailed instructions on the methods of tantra in relation to the broad scope of yoga practices and the enlightenment process, see the AYP Tantra book.  For detailed instructions on siddhasana, see the AYP Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas book. Also see AYP Plus

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