What is Tantra Yoga?
The word tantra is derived from the Sanskrit word tantran, which means to weave (as when using a loom). Other meanings are to connect, to extend, to harness, and to unite together.The term tantra generally refers to a spiritual practice and philosophy, based on ancient Indian traditions, dating back to the 5th century AD. Tantra has grown as part of the vedic traditions and beliefs and like other vedic traditions it aims at spiritual ascendance .Unlike other Indian spiritual traditions, Tantra has a positive view of life which sees the material world as an extension of the ultimate reality – i.e., the spiritual and material realities are intertwined, and are part of one reality.
The tantric practitioner expands its mind through different practices, aiming to the ultimate perception of reality as non-dual unity. Tantra Yoga practice includes physical exercise, mainly based on classic Hatha yoga.
Beyond the physical advantageous of strengthening and making the body supple, these classic yogic/Tantric exercises use the individual’s subtle energy system as a mean to expand and develop the mind, and as a way to reach spiritual heights.
In addition to Hatha yoga positions, Tantric methods use Pranayamas (breathing exercises) and meditations. An addition which is unique to Tantra Yoga, is the utilization of sexual energy in order to reach spiritual ascendance, and achieve a union with the divine. Westerns often perceive Tantra Yoga as focused on sexuality, however, the use of sexual energy is only one channel of work in tantric practices.
In this respect, Tantra Yoga includes exercise for couples which helps them for their spiritual growth. Practitioners focus on the inner movement of energy and on the subtle energy centers (chakras), with the aim of influencing the state of mind of the practitioner.
Tantra Yoga itself contains two opposing philosophies – the Right Hand Path, and the Left Hand Path. The right hand system does not involve sexual practices as part of its model, while the Left hand Tantra Yoga is based on the use of sexual energy as a main tool for spiritual growth and involves sexual practices and rituals. Nonetheless, some scholars criticize the use of this dichotomy terms, stating that advanced practitioners and masters often use both paths.
Tantric Hatha yoga
The Tantric yoga model is based on ancient and modern texts that teach – often using a code language – different esoteric practices, which are based on the understanding of the connection of the micro (the human being) and the macro (the universe). The Tantric yoga practices use the subtle energy system of the human being, which is comprised of energy centers (the chakras), the Nadi system (energy channels), and other energetic components, such as Prana, Kundalini, and more.
In this style of practice, the practitioner uses Hatha yoga exercises to channel and control the inner movement of energy, in order to achieve different mental and spiritual effects. The classic/Tantric yogic system includes the following elements:
- Asanas (postures)
- Pranayama (breathing exercises)
- Mudras(gestures) are group of advanced exercises that aim mainly to arouse and utilize Kundalini energy
The main aim of the tantric yogic system is to purify the practitioner’s mind and bring him to the state of enlightenment. The Tantra Yoga model works on all four dimensions of the human being – the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms.
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