If you’re even a little on the adventurous side sexually (or even if not), you’ve likely heard passing talk of Tantra, or Tantric sex. They are often used interchangeably. You may get that it’s deep, it’s sensual, and it’s something that takes more time than you likely have, right? But what is Tantric sex, really?

A bit of background 

Tantric practice is an ancient Indian tradition of beliefs, meditation, and rituals that go all the way back to the 5th century, when you and I were but dreams within dreams within wet dreams at the bottom of a river somewhere.

The word itself is Sanskrit for “woven together,” and refers to the sacred union that can be experienced if one can control one’s urge to visit Erotic City long enough to make contact with the energetic honesty that runs through us all, whether we’re aware of it or not. When practiced with careful and genuine intention, the act is fertile terrain for true merging: physical with spiritual, and humanity with the great divine.

As is always the case in “the west,” we are generally less interested in the aspects of Tantric practice that have to do with delving into our personal philosophies or changing our way of life in any profound way. Instead, we're intrigued by the potential to learn techniques that make sex last longer and feel better than we’ve ever wet-dreamed of.

Even without enlisting in a lifelong Tantric guru educational regime that involves never watching porn again and cutting out meat, Tantra can absolutely strengthen and intensify sexual, emotional, and spiritual connection with another person. It can even help you feel love (or real connection—whatever you wanna call it), so watch yourself if one of your life plans is to resist that.

Resisting love aside, consider these 5 very good reasons to try Tantric sex (clue: orgasms aren’t one of them!).

1.     A slow build-up, AKA extended foreplay  

For one thing, chances are, he’ll last a lot longer. Sadly, when it comes to sex, we are constantly exposed to forms of rapid hooking up and “senseless” fucking; I personally believe there is a time and place for all forms of consensual sex, but imbalance does occur when the fast & dirty kind dominates all else.

Think about the trajectory of your average mainstream porn clip. There is likely no foreplay (at least for her), and an over emphasis on male release.

If she happens to cum, it’s kind of just...a bonus. Unfortunately, life imitates mainstream porn. But just as no person should live on fast food alone, having only fast sex simply is a bad idea, especially for women—who are we kidding?

2.     Depth of talk, depth of touch  

A Tantric sex practice allows you to move beyond the semi-embarrassed, pseudo-inhibited, confused communication that too often shapes our sex lives, and have a deeper discussion; think of it as learning a new tongue. Sexual communication is universal, yet most people have forgotten how to do it. No words needed. Instead, the practice is based on breathing, and contact.

It’s not easy to do for the first time, but mastering this type of depth can be very rewarding.

3.     Intimacy, love & connection: opening up to it 

Sex, as most of us know it, is focused on giving and receiving satisfaction (which is great if you both get yours, and kinda shitty if you have a selfish or oblivious partner). But Tantric sex is about moving beyond this focus on satisfaction, to a more intimate connection. If you’re open, you’ll learn to open more. This doesn’t mean it has to be a loving, committed relationship. But you’ll learn to dwell in a feeling of love, affection, and understanding of the person you’ve chosen to be with. And if you are in a relationship, it can bring you closer together.

4.     It’s not about cumming (but you’re probably more likely to) 

Sex is great when it’s satisfying. Cumming relieves stress and makes us happy. The thing is, we so often settle for a quick hit of that happy feeling before we come crashing back down to “normal.” Rather than focusing on the orgasm itself and ignoring the path taken to arrive there, we are diverted from real connection, and the insane pleasure that alone can bring. For many, sex comes with a fear that they’re not sexy enough or they aren’t good enough in bed. Or they can’t seem to ask for what they want. Tantra can be your solid ground: a place to safely open up.

Tantric exercise for starters

There is no formula for having tantric sex, but most practitioners today talk about activating the chakras, using Kundalini energy, and worshipping the divine feminine. Chakras are essentially energy points where our life force (Prana) comes together in our non-physical body. Tantra is just as deep and complex as you are, so studying it could take a lifetime—albeit, a worthwhile one. Here is a basic exercises for those starting out:

1. Strike a “Yab-yum” pose 

This is a Tibetan phrase meaning “father mother” and basically involves an extended embrace between you and your partner. With clothes off (or on), sit on your partner’s lap, facing him, and wrap your legs around his waist. Look into each other’s eyes. This keeps you both open and exposed.

2. Lock eyes with one another 

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that gazing deeply into one another’s eyes can be indescribably intimate.

Make no mistake: this is some heavy shit, and can seem absolutely horrifying (or utterly hilarious) at first. But try to put the distractions aside.

3. Breathe deeply 

Emphasizing breath and connection creates a deep level of contact, which in turn can open your heart chakra, making you feel closer, more loving, and more forgiving toward the person you’re with. Next, synchronize your breathing: breathe in and out together. No rushing. Slowly, move into a breath exchange: inhale when he exhales, then exhale when he inhales, like you’re breathing each other in. Practice this for at least ten minutes. Controlling your breath is central to all yogic and meditative practices, and helps you cultivate more sexual energy.

4. Let it flow 

Eventually, move into kissing and touching. After a while, you can let it turn slowly into sex (or not), but keep up the kissing and touching, and keep looking into your lover’s otherworldly eyes. No irony. All genuine. No, we’re not used to it. But there’s nothing else like it.

If you get serious about continuing once you’ve had a taste, here are 2 helpful books that might take you further along this metaphysical pleasure-pure path. This one is a great intro, and this one will teach you more deeply about the relationships between Tantric practices and Tantric sex as we know it.