Is what you’re practicing actually yoga lite? Maybe it’s actually Tantra.
Have you ever questioned whether or not you’re a real yogi? Can you call yourself a real yogi if you don’t meditate in a cave, wear a loincloth or orange robes, or know which mantra or mudra to use at exactly the right moment?
The fun thing about Tantra is that it embraces life. Whereas stereotypical ideas of yogis often include caves in the Himalayas, minimal wardrobes and renunciation of common everyday living, Tantra doesn’t go there.
At least, Tantra as I understand it today. I’ll admit I’m not what I’d call an expert; but lucky for me I’ve had some great teachers. Swami Maheshananda Saraswati. Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. Gurushabd.
These teachers, and my own experience, have presented a version of yoga that embraces everyday living. Being in a relationship. Finding pleasure in small moments of joy, even chocolate. Travel. Friends from all walks of life. Abundance.
Don Latin, who writes about religion and spirituality in America, says that:
“The word “tantra” comes from a Sanskrit root that means to weave or extend. So one way to think of tantra is a philosophy and a spiritual discipline that uses ritual, meditation, and yoga to allow its practitioners to experience themselves and the world around them as an interwoven unity.”
In an article by Nora Isaacs for Yoga Journal, Pure Yoga founder Rod Stryker, teacher in the Tantric tradition of Sri Vidya, says this about Tantra: “In Tantra, the world is not something to escape from or overcome, but rather, even the mundane or seemingly negative events in day-to-day life are actually beautiful and auspicious. Rather than looking for samadhi, or liberation from the world, Tantra teaches that liberation is possible in the world.”
This is contrary to one of the common threads among the branches of Vedantic philosophy: that we need to escape our body and liberate ourselves from the cycle of reincarnation in order to experience samadhi. In other words, everything we experience, from pain to pleasure, is a manifestation of the divine and an opportunity to access our own divine nature.
In my own experience, my most divine moments of complete ananda (bliss)—and the closest I’ve come to samadhi—have been definitively in and of the world. Even though they felt like out of this world experiences, they happened during very tangible, material world moments.
7 Ways to Have Tantric Experiences
- Recognize that everything is cosmic.
- Don’t renounce anything.
- Embrace the tough stuff.
- Ask yourself: what is this here to teach me about my true nature?
- Watch for signs and symbols.
- Know that abundance is just as spiritual as renouncing money, if not more so.
- Enjoy good, healthy sex.