The moment we hear the word “Tantra” it is normally greeted with a raised eyebrow. This word is widely misunderstood and is mostly related with sex or sexual pleasures. People tend to confuse Tantra with Tantric sex which means open relationships, multiple orgasms etc, as opposed to the classical and spiritual practices.
This confusion was brought about by western ideologies, who combined spirituality and sexuality by incorporating some unorthodox practices. This is commonly known as “Neotantra” or “Navatantra” where nava means “new”. The Neo tantra tradition was brought about to change the western attitude towards sex. But that is not completely true. Only a small part of Tantra involves sex and sexual rituals.
A lot of fake gurus with no scruples have polluted the concept of Tantra.
Even though Tantra Yoga for Couples has been gaining a lot of traction in recent times, the real meaning of the practice remains elusive.
Before I pen down the poses of Tantra Yoga for couples, I would like to explain a little about Tantra so that you get a better understanding of the concept which has been shrouded in doubts.
To understand Tantra yoga, we need to first understand what Tantra means…
Popularly Tantra, is known to have originated in India, though there is no information about its founder. In Sanskrit, Tantra means “to weave, loom or warp”. This is the translation that most Westerners adopt. But this meaning of tantra is of a different word which only shares the same spelling and pronunciation.
The actual term “Tantra” is supplicated or conjured from the Sanskrit words ‘Tanoti’ and ‘Trayate’ which means “to expand or stretch” and “to liberate”. Also, there is another translation of Tantra where ‘tan’ means “body” and ‘tra’ means “tool” or “mechanism” which suggests that one who practices Tantra (Tantrik) uses the body as a tool to obtain liberation.
The topic of Tantra is vast (that is an understatement). Tantra does not involve renunciation like the path ascetics, priests and monks follow where they renounce the worldly and bodily pleasures. In fact, it is quite the opposite- tantric journey follows the spiritual path which sees divine in both spiritual transcendence and worldly indwelling.
So, I would like to sum it up at this point by saying that “the highest goal of tantra is self-realization. At the same time, people who practice tantra do not abstain from worldly pleasures, senses, or sexual pleasures. Tantric practitioners seek liberation living their lives as a householder, with work, family, friends, etc.
Coming back to Tantra Yoga for Couples…
Tantra Yoga for couples has proven to be extremely beneficial in strengthening and deepening the bond between couples. This form of yoga lays emphasis on the connection with one another rather than just oneself, thereby deepening the spiritual bond between couples.
Before you decide to give Tantra Yoga for couples a shot, it is important that you communicate with your partner about your physical limitations such as flexibility, endurance etc. because it might not be the same for both. So, start at a level that is comfortable for both.
There are a lot of poses that can be practiced by the couples. Some of the poses are:
This pose is literally translated as “father-mother” which depicts the primeval union of wisdom and compassion. Here, the male represents compassion, and the female represents insight or wisdom.
The pose: One partner sits cross-legged on the mat and the other partner sits on the thighs of the one seated on the mat, making sure that the ankles are behind the other partner’s back. Here, the lower back muscles are straight and are even with each other. Now, the partners bring their foreheads together to gently touch each other. Now, the eyes are closed, and the breathing is steady and synchronised.
Here, you sit back-to-back with your partner with the legs crossed. Make sure that both of you sit upright so that your shoulder blades to your lower backs are in contact with each other.
Use the support of each other’s back so that your core is relaxed.
Now begin your breathing exercise.
Here, you can follow two methods:
- You and your partner can inhale and exhale in tandem.
- Here, when you inhale, your partner exhales and then, the process is reversed. This brings about a balance in your combined breathing.
Boat Pose (NAVASANA)
- Sit facing each other, bend your knees and make sure that your toes touch each other’s.
- Now both of you extend your arms forward and hold/grip either the wrist or each other’s forearms and bring the soles of your feet in contact with each other.
- Slowly raise your feet upwards. While doing this make sure that your knees are brought towards your chest while keeping your upper body straight.
- As you continue to raise your legs, begin to straighten your legs.
- Hold this position for few breaths and then slowly bring your legs down by reversing the steps back.
- If you want to add a bit of a challenge to this pose, you and your partner could go for a wide-legged boat pose.
- Get into the straight-legged boat pose.
- Once you get there, let go of your partner’s arms one at a time and re-grab it in between your legs.
- Once your hands are firmly held in-between your legs, press against each other’s soles and slowly start moving the legs outwards to the sides.
- Check with your partner’s comfort level and keep moving as much as possible. Hold the position for a few breaths and then slowly bring the legs back to the centre and release the pose.
Dancer’s Pose (NATARAJASANA)
This pose requires a good amount of balance.
- To get into the pose with your partner, stand facing each other.
- Hold one of your partner’s arms.
- With the other hand try and reach your shin or if possible, your ankle. Place attention and connect with your body and check your comfort level.
- Now slowly raise or bring your leg up behind you and start leaning forward towards your partner.
- Make sure that you maintain eye contact with your partner.
- Hold the pose for few seconds and slowly release.
- Switch sides.
- In case balance is an issue for both of you, then one of you can perform the asana and while your partner holds your upper arm for balance.
- Take turns.
Front Plank (KUMBHAKASANA)
This is slightly an advanced pose and requires a good amount of balance, strength, and trust in your partner.
- One of the partners lies on the mat, acting as the base. Probably, the stronger one should be on the mat to begin with. The person on the mat begins with lying on the mat and lifting the legs upwards so that the feet are above the hip level.
- The partner who is about to get into the plank position, stands an inch or two away from the glutes of the partner on the mat. This partner is known as the flyer.
- Now, the partner on the mat prepares for the position by placing the feet on the hips of the flyer. Here, you might have to bend the knees to establish proper contact with the hips of the flyer and to adjust the spacing.
- Now, both the partners hold their hands together.
- Once proper and firm contact is established, the flyer leans on to the feet of the partner on the mat and place weight on them. Here, make sure that your body is properly aligned, and the core is engaged.
- Next, the partner on the mat slowly begins to extend the legs keeping the arms straight. Now, the flyer is directly above the partner on the mat and the feet of the partner on the mat, is directly above their hips. It is important that the flyer has their core engaged; else one could collapse while trying this pose.
- When the flyer is stable, they press their hands against their partner’s and point their toes upward and outward.
- Hold the position for few seconds and breathe normally. Do not try and hold your breath here.
- Slowly release the position in the reverse order.
Double Camel Pose (UTRASANA)
This is relatively easy when performed with your partner.
For getting into the pose,
- Both partners must be on their knees with back facing each other’s.
- To get the correct alignment, place one foot in between your partner’s feet.
- Once you are ready, engage your cores and place your hands on your lower backs for support.
- Now, slowly get into a backbend, bringing you heads back carefully and place them on each other’s shoulders. Here, make sure that you guide your head carefully to avoid any collision.
- Once both of you have established support, you can deepen the stretch by moving hips forward and letting your arms hands beneath you.
- Hold it for as long as possible while maintain regular breathing. Slowly release.
Cobra with Chair Pose (BHUJANGASANA with UTKATASANA)
Again, this is an easy pose.
To get into the pose,
- One partner lies flat on their stomach on the mat with hands extended forward (unlike in the traditional cobra pose where the arms are placed next to the chest), while the other partner stands over you with their feet placed right next to the knees of the one laying on the mat.
- Now, the partner on the mat slows lifts the chest and begins to arch their back while also lifting their head and shoulders. While moving they extend their arms backwards. Here, both the palms face outwards.
- The one standing over should now hold their partner’s hand. With the hands held, get into a squat position, and slowly sit back into the chair pose.
- Make sure that you adjust the weight levels as you need to maintain the chair pose and the partner needs to be steady in the cobra pose. Offer a slight lean if required, depending on your partner’s level to raise the body into the cobra pose.
- Hold the position for few seconds and release. Take turns.
Stacked Plank Pose
To get into the pose,
- One of the partners gets into a normal plank pose (as if they are at the top of a push-up).
- Now, the other partner places their hands on the calves or ankles of the partner who is already in the plank pose.
- Then slowly raise one leg at a time and place it on your partner’s upper back or shoulders. Once you have placed both the legs firmly on your partner’s shoulders/upper back, hold the position for as long as you both can. Remember to keep your cores engaged and breathe normally.
- Slowly come out of the pose.
There are a lot of simple, complicated, and intimate poses (which are mostly for sexual arousal) that can be practiced with your partner.
The benefits are:
- Strengthening your relationship due to improved communication, trust and understanding each other. It helps form a stronger bond between the couples and brings in a new level of understanding between the two. It is the best way to acknowledge each other’s vulnerabilities and embrace each other’s strengths. Here, you are not only listening to your own body but also listen to your partner and understanding what their body is trying to communicate. It is a beautiful experience.
- Practicing Tantra Yoga brings about a new level of stability and calm in the relationship. In case you have had an argument or are stressed about something, the simple process of holding hands and supporting each other physically immediately lowers the stress. In this form of practice the power of touch is not used to arouse each other sexually; the power is used in exchange of energies and helps the connection deepen and expand.
- It increases the attraction levels between the couples.
So, if we look at it closely, it is like the dance of Shiva (the AdiYogi) and Shakti, where Shiva is the Consciousness and Shakti is the Energy and this is where they become One.
According to Tantra, Energy and Consciousness is One and the same.
According to Einstein and Laws of Quantum Physics, everything is energy and somehow Tantra knew it thousands of years before they did!