Although many Westerners associate Tantra with sexual practices or rituals, Tantra is actually a much broader concept that has been practiced by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jainists for thousands of years prior to the Western sexualization of the concept. The Western focus on Tantra as a sexual practice is no more than 100 years old or so, but the practice of Tantra without focus on sexuality is thousands of years old. At its roots, Tantra is an ancient spiritual practice of liberation through expanding consciousness.
The word Tantra literally means “to weave, warp, or loom” and comes from the ancient Sanskrit words tan which translates as “to stretch or expand,” and tra which means “liberation.” The concept relates to practices that stretch or weave the practitioner, adding to and making him or her stronger and more complete.
Many hear the word Tantra and immediately think of sexual escapades or practices such as withholding or delaying orgasm during sex, yet the tools provided by Tantric practice include mudras, mantras, prayers, meditation and many other non-sexual yogic practices that purify both the body and soul. Although some Tantric paths, such as ShaktaTantra, sexual practices are used, but sects that focus on the sexual components are in the minority. Like life itself, Tantra offers much more than just sex.
6th century scholar, Sabara provides one such example of Tantra as “when as action or a thing, once complete, becomes benefits in several matters as one person. For example, “a lamp place amongst many priests.”
Tantra is in fact, yoga. Take notice of times throughout the next month when you are stretched or strengthen by a new idea, practice, or understanding. This is Tantra. If this notion has resonated, you have already begun practicing Tantra as the concept weaves its way in. Through Tantra, we give our world-view permission to be stretched and we give ourselves permission to “let go,” so that future decisions based on habitual responses such as fear may be changed, allowing growth. This creates inherent freedom.
Let’s get Liberated,
Kelsey Reed Armbruster
Founder of Innercise Yoga, LLC