If you're like most Americans, chances are good that you have preconceived notions about tantric sex. Many dismiss it as the domain of new-age hippies who wax poetic about chakras and life force. But these days, as tantra programs pop up in spas, yoga centers, and private homes across the country, the practice is finding a host of new adherents.
Tantra, from the Sanskrit word for "interwoven," is an ancient philosophy threaded through Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. While Westerners tend to associate it with the acrobatic positions illustrated in the Kama Sutra, practitioners say it actually has little to do with sex.
Tantric teachings were originally a path to spiritual enlightenment; the Western version has been secularized to help couples bond. "When people come to me, they’re looking for a deeper experience with their partner," says Cheryll, of the Integrative Transformation Center in New York City.
(Like Sting, another tantra devotee, she only uses one name.) Through tantra, "you connect in body, mind, and spirit." The practice is intended to make sex more cerebral and spiritual. Through synchronized breathing and the visualization of energy being passed back and forth, couples can theoretically have intercourse for hours, with both partners experiencing repeated climaxes, even though the man never ejaculates. If successful, both partners will feel completely attuned to one another.
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