A simple question without a simple answer, and
any attempt at definition will necessarily be incomplete.
The roots of the word are Sanskrit:
Tan - thread, web, stretch, spread or expand, and Tra - tool or instrument. Tantra - tool for expansion or a weaving.Through tantric practice one can experience an expansion of consciousness and recognize the interconnectedness of the web of existence.At the same time, "Tantra" can refer to any of a number of sacred texts in the Hindu, Jain and Tibetan Buddhist traditions.
Many of these texts contain detailed guidelines for spiritual practice. From this perspective, Tantra is a vast body of spiritual and physical knowledge, encompassing an array of practices, including all forms of yoga.
These practices are aimed at expanding consciousness and liberating oneself "through life and not through escape, using the body as an instrument."* In Tantra, the energies of the body are used as the fuel for spiritual development.In the West, Tantra is often called the "Yoga of Sex." While there is a kernel of truth in this phrase, the popular press has created a misleading impression that Tantra is about having better orgasms or about becoming a better lover.
Since tantric practices are designed to expand consciousness, they can expand a person's capacity to give, receive and experience pleasure, not only in the sexual realm but in all areas of life, provided that person is willing to do the work. It is important to be aware that Tantra is not an easy path; it is "the way of the hero who neither rejects nor fears any aspect of life." Many Western Tantra teachers emphasize very powerful techniques for enhancing sexual pleasure and intimacy, while some traditional teachers discourage students from exploring sexual Tantra at all.
Our primary teachers have spent years studying traditional, lineage-based Tantra in India. We try to incorporate some of the best elements of American Tantra into our teaching while honoring tradition and lineage.