Tantra Yoga Explained: 10 Myths About Tantra Yoga Debunked
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
Tantra yoga is one of the most misunderstood branches of yoga in modern times. When people hear the word tantra, the first thing that often pops into their minds is images of crazy sex or orgasmic practices. But here’s the truth, sex and sexuality are actually a very small part of tantra yoga, and for many traditional tantric yogis, it plays no significant role at all in the actual practice of tantra.
So, what is tantra yoga? We will answer that question and more in this article! By debunking some of the most common myths about tantra yoga, we can truly get to the root of these profound practices. Remember, if you’d like to dive even deeper, make sure to check out our 200-hour tantra yoga teacher training for more information! Now, let’s dive into our exploration of the wide world of tantra yoga.
Tantra yoga is perhaps one of the most misunderstood branches of yoga, but it actually plays a role in nearly every modern yoga class today. The word tantra literally translates to mean “weave” or “technique” in Sanskrit, referring to the intricate blend of techniques and practices that are woven together to make the beautiful tapestry of life.
On a more practical level, tantra yoga focuses on understanding the dynamics of the energetic principles of the universe and discovering the divine within everything around us. Tantra yoga philosophy is the root tradition of many of the commonly used theories around the energy channels (nadis), energetic centers (chakras), and the divine serpent energy (kundalini). Tantra yoga teaches you how to utilize the chakras and the nadis to move kundalini energy throughout the body and bring you closer to a spiritual awakening.
Tantra yoga practices are vast and complex, but at the root of it all is to connect with this divinity in every moment, in every breath, and in everything around you. Some of the ways you can engage with tantra yoga practices are through yoga poses, breathing techniques, mantra chanting, creating yantras or sacred geometric images, and engaging in divine tantric rituals.
There are many different ways to practice tantra yoga, each with its own unique beauty. But one of the most important distinctions to learn is the differentiation between authentic and traditional tantric yoga and neo-tantra or “new age” tantra, which is really just a culturally appropriated form of tantric yoga and has little to no roots in actual tantric yoga practice.
So, how can you tell the difference between authentic tantra and neo-tantra? We will dive in a bit deeper in the next section to explore some of the common myths about tantra yoga and how you can begin to connect with the true authentic depth of tantra yoga in your life. If you are interested in diving deeper, make sure to check out our tantra yoga teacher training which can guide you step by step into the vast and beautiful world of tantra yoga!
1. Tantra is All About Sex
This is one of the most common myths about tantra yoga, which is why we are covering this big one first! The critical thing to know is that this misconception actually comes from neo-tantra or “new age” tantra, which has little to nothing to do with authentic or traditional tantra yoga. Although sex can have a small component of genuine tantra, it is not at all a significant part of traditional tantric yoga practice.
2. Tantra is Black Magic
Tantra yoga got this reputation because tantric yoga practitioners often push on the edges of normality in our society and break out of the traditional box, which many people can find strange. But the truth is that tantra is not black magic (although it certainly has some magical elements!). Instead, tantra yoga helps us to see things differently and to tap into the more profound energies all around us.
3. Tantra is Dangerous
Here’s the truth, everything in life can be a little dangerous, and tantra yoga is no exception to this. But it is not significantly more dangerous than any other spiritual practice out there. That being said, it is still essential to work with a qualified teacher to ensure that you are taking the proper steps along this beautiful path of tantra yoga and utilizing these powerful energies in the right way.
4. Tantra is Complicated
Tantra is indeed a bit complex, and it is a deep spiritual practice, but it is no more complex than any other spiritual practice or yoga tradition out there. With any realm of spirituality, the deeper you go into it, the vaster it becomes, and the more you realize how little we truly know about life. But the beauty about tantra yoga is that although it is complex, it is ultimately simple at its core when you focus on the true essence of the Truth of the universal energies all around us.
5. Tantra is the Easy Path to Awakening
Every spiritual path has its ups and downs – the more you begin to face the different parts of yourself, the more inner work is required, no matter what spiritual tradition you follow! Some people consider tantra yoga the easier path because it doesn’t require you to become a full renunciate and many tantric yogis continue to engage in worldly pleasures, but that isn’t always the case. It certainly depends on how you choose to incorporate tantra yoga into your life – there is no one right way!
6. You Cannot Practice Tantra Yoga Alone
In many neo-tantra yoga groups, you often need a partner for the many sexual practices, but in traditional or authentic tantra yoga, that is not at all the case. In authentic tantra yoga, the real work is going within yourself, and it is a solo journey. That being said, it is still essential to have a qualified teacher to guide you along the way, and it is undoubtedly helpful to have a community of support as well.
7. Real Tantra is Inaccessible
This myth has some semblance of truth to it because many of the more profound authentic tantra yoga practices have been lost over time or are only known by a select few serious yoga practitioners, likely hidden somewhere in the Himalayas. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot still gain a lot from various tantra yoga practices, and a lot of this profound wisdom is increasingly becoming rediscovered and revealed over time.
8. Tantra is All About Pleasure and Fun
This myth is again where we get into the distinction between neo-tantra and authentic tantra yoga practice, in which neo-tantra is where more of the sensual desire and enjoyment comes from. That being said, there is undoubtedly an experience of enjoyment along the path of authentic tantra yoga. Tantra helps to bring you in touch with the pleasure of daily life, to see things differently, and to tap into the divine in every moment and in everything.
9. Tantra is Just Filled with Bizarre Rituals
Although rituals are certainly a part of some tantra yoga traditions, they are not tantra yoga in their entirety and whether these rituals are bizarre is really more a matter of opinion than fact. Tantra is a systematic practice that brings you into a deeper connection with yourself and the energies around you, and rituals are a means to engage with this, but they are certainly not the only way!
10. Tantra Yoga is a Cult
Firstly, it is essential to note that there are absolutely some dangerous cults in the tantra yoga world, but this does not at all mean that all tantra yoga communities are like this! There are many authentic, supportive, and open tantra yoga communities that are not cults and that support each student in their journey without harming them. But like any spiritual tradition, it is important to do your due diligence and investigate the teacher and community before joining to ensure your own safety.
As you can see, tantra yoga isn’t quite what people make it out to be. Tantra yoga isn’t all about sex or a sexual awakening. Instead, it is a profound spiritual practice that brings you into a deeper connection with your true self and the divine forces emanating all around us. Tantra yoga is vast and complicated, but by taking one step at a time down this beautiful path, you can begin to uncover the secrets of tantra yoga once and for all.
If you are interested in learning more about tantra yoga, then make sure to check out our 200-hour tantra yoga teacher training. In this in-depth tantra yoga teacher training, we will explore the theory, philosophy, anatomy, and practices of tantra yoga so you can genuinely embody this wisdom in your life. You will also get the tools to share tantra yoga as a yoga teacher with your students, helping to share this profound wisdom with others! Reach out to us for more information on how you can join our upcoming 200-hour yoga teacher training.