Articles & Reviews


What is Tantra and Tantric Sex?

By Niyaso Carter


People often ask me: What is Tantra and what is tantric sex? Lately, the term Tantra has gained popularity, but few people truly grasp its meaning. Since the famous singer Sting appeared on the television show, Oprah, and declared that learning tantric sex had enabled him to make love for hours without stopping, many people have become curious about tantric sex. And yes, Tantra definitely includes prolonged, delicious lovemaking sessions. However, it’s not about how long you can do it. It’s about the quality of connection. It’s about the love and opening that the exchange creates, the melting with each other and with the universe.

My one line answer to the question is this: Tantric Sex is sex imbued with love that allows us to merge with the divine.


But let me also provide a slightly longer explanation: Tantra was a religious sect in ancient India. Buddhists, Hindus and people from various other religions were associated with Tantric sects.

What differentiated Tantra from other religious groups was the belief of the tantrikas, its followers, that personal fulfillment and union with God came through living, accepting, and gaining a deep understanding of all of life’s energies and experiences.

They taught that there’s nothing in life that one needs to turn away from to be spiritual. They affirmed that one can reach wholeness or enlightenment through full engagement of the senses and a deep open hearted embrace of all physical experience. Birth, death, sex, creation, destruction–no part of the human experience was excluded. Sexuality was honored as a potent form of life force energy that could be used for spiritual advancement. However, these tantrikas were not hedonists, or self-indulgent — far from it.

Many of their sexual practices involved much discipline, patience and diligence. Tantric masters taught their students how to use sexual energy and sexual expression consciously, with great awareness. Using it as an opener to love, to life, to God, and all existence. To this day, some temples in India have sculpted images of couples in various sexual acts on their exterior walls. These are the remnants of Tantra. The religion itself has become nearly invisible in the public eye, and today in the West, it is often misunderstood. I personally have an affinity to Tantra due to my years of study and practice in India. My spiritual teacher and guide there lectured about Tantra continuously and would instruct us in the Tantric principles of life with great enthusiasm and skill.


Taoism, which contains many practices involving sexual energy, is an ancient healing system with beliefs and practices similar to Tantra. Taoism originates from China, and is especially known for it’s practices promoting health and longevity by guiding sexual energy. Sometimes I get the impression people think Tantra and Taoism teach some sort of high tech version of sex. But really, the teachings of Tantra and Taoism simply offer practices to refine the natural senses and to come closer to nature.

Just like the shamans and kahunas of old practiced tuning into nature (to access the spirit world) more diligently then the average tribe member, so the student of Tantra and sacred sex requires a similar deep attunement. Even if you’re not planning to become a dedicated Tantra student, learning some basics can still take you a long way.

The teachings of Tantra and Taoism offer the possibility of loving sex in a deeply intimate relationship. Not only that, but sex that gets increasingly better and more satisfying as the years go by. Yes, this indeed exists, and many long-term couples I know can attest to it.


But the sweetest story comes from my best friend’s mother — a conservative, church-going German house wife. At 68, she had been married to the same man for 45 years, the only man ever in her life. Knowing what work I do, she one day in very hushed tones confided in me. She said, ”I’m so surprised I can hardly believe it, but now that we’re retired and we have time and leisure to be together, sex just keeps getting better and better.” Tantra is not just for people in relationship. There are many solo practices and exercises a single person can do to prepare themselves for their next partner. All these practices lead you to become a more fulfilled, happy person.

Ultimately, the practices and teachings of Tantra and Taoism help us discover that we can live in love, vitality, serenity, and joy without relying on anyone or anything external. At the same time, if you want to make your sex life sacred, learning about Tantra can be very helpful, meaningful, and oh so pleasurable.

Click here to find out about different ways you can learn Tantra and Sacred Lovemaking.