scorecardHow to practice tantric sex, a meditative form of intimacy that can improve relationships
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How to practice tantric sex, a meditative form of intimacy that can improve relationships

Sarah Fielding,Rosara Torrisi   

How to practice tantric sex, a meditative form of intimacy that can improve relationships
LifeScience6 min read
Tantric sex can improve not only your relationship, but also the connection you have with yourself.    filadendron/Getty Images
  • Tantric sex is slow and intimate, with a focus on connecting to yourself and your partner.
  • Prepare for tantric sex by learning its history, creating a safe space, and practicing mindfulness.
  • During tantric sex, you should focus on your breath and engage all of your senses.

Have you ever wanted to slow things down in the bedroom and gain a more intimate connection with a partner? If so, you may want to consider tantric sex — a form of intimacy focused on strengthening the ties between you and your partner.

Here's how to practice tantric sex and tips to integrate the practice into your sex life.

Understanding tantric sex

Tantric sex is a slowed-down version of sex designed to enhance intimacy. It stems from the Sanskrit word tantra, which means woven together, and is rooted in Hindu and Buddhist teachings.

In tantric sex, the goal is not about reaching orgasm quickly (if at all) or about feeling incredible physical pleasure. Instead, tantric sex focuses on creating a genuine mindful connection within yourself and then between you and your partner.

"You feel as if you're merging together or, rather, that the things that separate you are illusions of the material world," says Stefani Goerlich, a licensed master social worker and sex therapist. "The result of tantric practice is the creation of close bonds with one's partner, greater awareness of one's body, and the development of skills such as mindfulness, restraint, and communication."

Another benefit of tantric sex is its ability to ease anxiety. Traditionally, intimacy can cause performance anxiety around premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and the worry about ensuring orgasm.

"That pressure… takes you from being in the moment and in your body, to being in your head," says Kamil Lewis, a sex and relationship therapist in Southern California.

Tantric sex removes those anxieties. "When [you] are able to redirect focus towards experiencing the sensations of simply being present and connected together, [you] are able to enjoy sex without anxiety or fear," says Goerlich.

How to prepare for tantric sex

If you're interested in tantric sex, you should prepare in three main ways.

1. Learn about its history

As with any practice rooted in a specific culture, taking the time to understand its history shows respect for its origin and allows you to embrace it with a fuller understanding.

"We cannot take on the spiritual and religious practices of other cultures without taking the time to honor the origins and understand what we're doing," says Goerlich. A great place to start could be this cultural and historical overview of tantra.

2. Practice mindfulness

To prepare for tantric sex, Lewis recommends doing a mindfulness practice to connect with your body, become aware of senses, and slow down — all integral aspects of tantric sex.

This can be done through yoga, meditation, or intentionally focusing on sensations and movements throughout the day.

3. Create a safe environment

If you're trying tantric sex, create a safe environment where you and a partner feel free to connect with yourselves and each other.

"Somewhere where you can feel uninhibited by distractions, and somewhere that you don't feel self-conscious about sounds you may make," says Lewis. "Moaning, grunting, and vocalizing are encouraged with tantric sex, so consider a time when roommates, parents, or children aren't home."

Quick tip: Lewis also suggests incorporating calming sensual elements into the space, such as lit candles and essential oils.

Tips to practice tantric sex

Once you're ready to practice tantric sex, you should keep five tips in mind.

1. Focus on breath

Focusing on breath is an essential component of tantric sex, as it allows for deeper connection. Partners are encouraged to synchronize their breaths, so it almost becomes one movement, says Molly Papp, LMFT, sexologist, a certified sex addiction therapist, and owner of Bella Vida Therapy.

As with most mindfulness practices, the breath also grounds you in the present moment. Try paying attention to a part of your body where you feel the breath, like the belly or chest, and refocus your attention to this part.

2. Gaze into each other's eyes

Spend time gazing into a partner's eyes. While continual eye contact isn't necessary for tantric sex, Papp highly recommends it occur often to help build an intimate connection.

Eye gazing is another way of synchronizing to each other's energy. To gaze deeper, try focusing on having your right eye connect with their right eye.

3. Slow down

Tantric sex is not a race to an orgasmic finish line, but a chance to slow down and explore each other's bodies. It can last until you reach orgasm, feel connected, or are emotionally satisfied.

This attitude change relieves a lot of typically felt anxiety. "It is especially great for women because of its focus on slowing things down and waiting for arousal to build," says Papp. "In an age where we are flooded with unrealistic pressure to feel orgasmic pleasure within minutes, this is freeing for many women."

Quick tip: Papp suggests having lube, oils, or lotion nearby to ensure slow movements aren't painful.

4. Engage all five senses

The only "goal" of tantric sex is remaining present and being aware of sensations in the body. To do this, Lewis suggests paying attention to all five of your senses, not just touch.

"Notice how your partner smells, what the curves of their bodies look like, what tastes you pick up in your mouth as you kiss, what it sounds like when they or you moan," Lewis says. "These are all great ways to become grounded in your body and present in the moment."

5. Incorporate massage

Sex does not need to be penetrative. "Kissing, touching, holding, rubbing, and more can all lead to a full tantric sexual experience, no penetration necessary," says Lewis.

Even if you want to incorporate penetrative sex, Goerlich says there's no reason to rush into it. Start by focusing on markers that keep you present and connected, like massaging or cuddling.

"Prolong this sensory exploration and carry it over into your penetrative sex — if indeed you have penetrative sex," says Goerlich.

In fact, focusing on other forms of intimacy can help keep anxiety levels down. "Something more sensual rather than sexual could help calm one or both partners," says Papp. "A cuddle session or massage would help relieve that anxiety and ease the experience."

6. Try yab-yum: The ultimate tantric sex position

Health Reference Lotus position illustration
The yab-yum — or lotus — position is a well-known tantric sex position that allows for deep connection.      Alyssa Powell/Insider
The yab-yum position is an iconic tantric sex position. It's also called the lotus position.

To do it, one partner (often the penetrating partner) sits cross-legged, and the other partner straddles them. The partner on top can wrap their legs around their partner's waist, and both can embrace each other with their arms. This intimate position sets you up for deep eye contact and partnered breathing. It can involve penetration, but it doesn't have to.

Quick tip: To learn more about the yab-yum position, including ways to adapt it to make it more comfortable for you and your partner, check out our guide to the lotus position.

7. Experiment with solo tantric sex

You don't have to be partnered to enjoy the benefits of tantric sex. Doing tantric sex alone is ideal for getting to know your own body on an intimate level. Just as you would with a partner, prepare by setting the mood. Here are some ideas:

  • Light candles
  • Meditate
  • Try touching different parts of your body
  • Experiment with tantric yoga positions
  • Try giving yourself a tantric massage
  • Go hands-free for an exercise in mental stimulation.

Remember, the point is not to reach orgasm quickly, but to be mindful of all the sensations and emotions that surface during the process.

Insider's takeaway

Tantric sex slows down an intimate experience and emphasizes the connection between both you and yourself, as well as you and a partner.

The practice involves focusing on the breath, staying present, and creating a safe environment to explore sensual intimacy. The end goal of tantric sex is not orgasm, but being present in the given moment.