Tantric sex is often underestimated or misunderstood. While you might have heard it's the key to hours-worth of great sex, contrary to popular belief, it's more to do with emotional wellness and sexual fulfillment than the orgasm itself.
First practiced over 5000 years ago in Tibet and India, tantric sex is an act that's been in existence since the 7th century. Formed from tantra, which comes from the Sanskrit word 'to weave', it's all about slowing down sex and making it more about a mind-body connection.
Our Western knowledge of the practice tends to focus on how to have an orgasm unlike any other. This is certainly part of it, but that's not everything tantric sex is about. As it's built on a foundation of trust and unconditional love, it can help ease issues such as sexual anxiety and contribute to happier relationships outside the bedroom too.
What is tantric sex?
Tantric sex is an ancient practice, where the focus is not on the orgasm itself but rather on prolonging and enjoying the journey it takes to get there.
"Within our intimate relationships, practicing tantric sex creates deeper and more profound connections and enhances our ability to effectively communicate our needs to a partner and to be able to hear their needs," says Jennifer Surch, founder of the Academy of Modern Tantra (opens in new tab). "Tantric sex is a profound journey of orgasmic and energetic union."
Today, many people in the West practice a version of tantra called neo-tantra, Surch explains. "This is a beautiful infusion of ancient traditional tantra combined with mindfulness, present state awareness, Taoist tantra, Kundalini yoga, and energy. It's focused on mental, emotional, physical, and energetic health."
Is it really worth trying? Absolutely, according to Surch. "It takes making love to all-new levels of intimacy. To be really present in your body and feel the pleasure in every cell of your being as you experience true conscious connections."
How to have tantric sex
Tantric sex is less about orgasming quickly and more about prolonging the experience for intense pleasure, so you shouldn't focus closely on your orgasm at all. "Instead, prolong the foreplay for as long as possible before taking sex to its natural end," sex and relationship guru, and Lovehoney (opens in new tab) ambassador, Oloni says. "Delaying orgasm can be difficult for some people, particularly men - but it can be done."
She adds, "You can do this by using a variety of techniques including meditation, breathing exercises, and massage."
Here, Jennifer Surch and Oloni share 10 steps to nailing tantric sex for first-timers. By taking these steps before and during sex, you and your partner can fulfill your wildest tantric sexual fantasies.
1. Prep the room
As tantric sex is a slow and mindful experience, spend time preparing the room for you and your partner. Oloni suggests lighting scented candles, turning off your phone, and devoting at least two hours to your partner to fully immerse yourself in the experience for ultimate pleasure.
If you have the option, kick things off in the living room and spend time enjoying each other in a space other than the bedroom. Remove any distractions, add mood lighting and romantic music.
2. Loosen your body
Get yourself into the right mind for tantric sex, either alone before your partner comes into the room or together. As the practice is all about moving energy through the body, Oloni recommends shaking your limbs to energize before you get started.
You don't have to do a full-on workout, just have a little jump around and get the blood pumping. Tune into how you're feeling and take a few minutes to breathe. If you're feeling particularly tight, practice some gentle yoga poses like downward dog, cobra, and tree pose.
3. Stay off the bed
When it comes to tantric sex, Oloni advises avoiding your bed even if that's where you usually have sex. "This will trigger the sleep button in your brain, she says. "Tantra is not about a quick romp - you are seeking a deep connection. Get comfortable by lying on the floor with your partner using some cushions."
Dedicate a space to your tantric experience and make things even more special. This can be another area of your bedroom other than your bed, your living room, or your guest room. Work with whatever you have available.
4. Stimulate the senses
By now, you'll know that tantric sex is all about being present and mindful. A great way to play on this is to dedicate time to stimulating your and your partner's senses. "Try a tantric ritual on your partner called the body-worship ritual," suggests Surch.
"Schedule an evening into your diary and make the necessary preparation, like picking some beautiful music and ensuring the room is ambiently lit with some candles around," she suggests.
"Start by sitting opposite your partner and just taking time to look into one another's eyes, to really witness each other, to be seen and to see. When naked, breathe with each other. Then taking it in turns on different evenings, invite your partner to lay down in a comfortable place you have prepared. Placing all of your attention on your fingertips and your palms, begin to caress their body and explore every curve and crease," Surch explains. "Do this to send them love."
You can then treat your partner to different sensations, like soft feathers gently and sensually moving up and around their body. "Remember that sexual pleasure travels upwards," she adds, so make sure this is the motion you move in.
"And then anointing their body with oil, commence what we call the strokes of adoration. This is a massage, but do it as if you were making love with your hands."
Make sure you notice every reaction and noise your partner makes when they feel your touch, ask them for feedback, and open the lines of communication. "This way you can create a little map over their whole body of every pleasure zone. We call this pleasure mapping of the body," Surch says. "It might be the backs of their legs for instance. The skin is our largest pleasure receptor, wrapped over our whole body and it's capable of giving us great waves of orgasmic pleasure.
5. Sit face-to-face
As tantric sex is all about deepening your connection with your partner, Oloni suggests sitting face-to-face with one partner on the other's lap in the traditional Yab Yum tantric position. "Wrap your hands tightly around each other and press your bodies against each other," she suggests. "This kind of skin contact promotes greater feelings of intimacy."
Stay in this position for a few moments, breathe deeply and be present. If the Yab Yum position isn't comfortable, lay down with your partner and look into their eyes.
While this position isn't actually about sex, but rather the intimacy that comes with being so close. It can be one of the best sex positions, explains Surch.
"The traditional tantric sex position is called Yab Yum this is when the lingam (penis) is inside the yoni (vagina) and the shakti (female) straddles the shiva (male)," she says. "All chakra energy centers are aligned in this position. It's a profound meditation that involves squeezing kegel exercises, pelvic rocking, tantric breathing, and circulation of the sexual energy as it builds up."
6. Slow down foreplay
During sex, foreplay is often rushed with orgasm as the end goal. With tantric sex, you're actively trying to not place importance on orgasm, and instead enjoy a deeply intimate experience with your partner.
"Take your time and leisurely make your way around their body," Oloni advises. "Try a variety of touches—firm massage, light feathery touches, and gentle stroking. The aim here is to heighten your lover's senses slowly and intensely so that you're building them up to a peak but stopping just short before the orgasm." If you decide to introduce oral sex early on, Oloni warns that you shouldn't take it to the point of climax too soon. "We're aiming to make pleasure last for hours," she says.
7. Look into your partner's eyes
After stimulating each other's senses and enjoying slow and mindful foreplay, look into your partner's eyes and breathe together. "Place your left hand on your partner's heart," Oloni instructs, "They should do the same to you. Match each other's breathing for at least two minutes."
Not only will this bring you both into the present moment, it will create a deeply intimate experience where nothing else matters in the world at that moment but the two of you.
8. Try some role-play
If you fancy taking things even further, you could introduce some bondage for beginners or BDSM play. The key to BDSM play is communication and consent. Before you begin, discuss with your partner what they are comfortable/not comfortable with and gain their consent, agree on a safe word, phrase or action that when used ensures the dominating partner knows it's time to stop, and always communicate throughout.
You can take it in turns in being the dominant and submissive partner to get to know what you like and what it feels like to play either role. Open up to your partner about what you'd like to try, get creative, and have fun!
9. Take sex slow
As you progress through mindful foreplay and into a place where you're ready to have sex, you should avoid any sex positions you know make you orgasm easily.
"Work towards a gradual build-up of pleasure. The slower you take it, the more intense the orgasm will be at the end," Oloni says.
10. Slow down your breathing
As you both come close to climaxing, slow down your breathing for a more intense and longer orgasm.
"This will seem illogical—most of us breath more quickly as we approach climax," Oloni says. "Women, in particular, can tense up at this stage of sex as they try to make themselves orgasm. Instead, relax your tummy and take long, slow deep breaths—your orgasm will last longer and be more intense."
What if tantric sex doesn't work?
If you find you didn't orgasm during your first time having tantric sex, or that it wasn't all that different from normal, Oloni stresses you shouldn't give up.
"If you don't last beyond 10 minutes, try again. Tantric sex takes time to get to grips with because we're all used to sex in a Western way. This means we expect sex to have an obvious start, middle, and end. Use your imagination and your sex life can go off in all sorts of new directions - that’s tantra!"
Faye M Smith is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience in the magazine industry. Her continued work in the area of natural health won her the coveted title of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) Journalist of the Year Award 2021. Currently Health Editor across several brands including woman&home, Woman and Woman’s Own, Faye specialises in writing about mental health, the menopause, and sex and relationships.
- Grace Walsh Health Editor
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