Tantra Yoga is an ancient practice that seeks an experience of union between the physical and spiritual realms of existence. According to Tantric philosophy, all of creation is a manifestation of pure consciousness, but the experience of physical existence and its adherent desires can obscure the experience of pure consciousness. Tantra Yoga views worldly desire as a natural condition of physical existence and an expression of the eternal desire between Shakti (the feminine, creative aspect of existence) and Shiva (the masculine, unmanifest aspect of existence). Tantra Yoga uses various techniques to direct one’s desire toward increasingly subtler levels of existence, with the ultimate goal of experiencing union with pure consciousness.
What to expect
In the West, the term "Tantra" is used for a wide variety of practices, some more classically rooted and some that have been blended with modern schools of thought. Some Tantric practices are internal only, involving meditations and exercises that work with the energy of the chakras. Other Tantric practices involve sexual contact and energy exchange between male and female partners. These partner exercises may have a spiritual goal or may be more oriented toward increasing intimacy between partners, incorporating elements of Western sexology and psychotherapy. It is best to research Tantra teachers individually to find out their approach.
Tantra Yoga is an ancient practice rooted in spiritual tradition. In mainstream American culture, Tantra has become largely identified with a branch of practice that involves sexual contact between partners. Margot Anand's 1989 book The Art of Sexual Ecstasy and Charles Muir's Sacred Sexuality workshops have helped to popularize this modern style of Tantra.