Nowadays when we hear the word "tantra" we either think of Sting talking about his marathon love-making or Samantha's fling with the yoga teacher who refused to orgasm on Sex and the City — but the truth about tantric sex is actually much different than what pop culture would have us believe.
To get to the heart of what tantric sex actually means, we caught up with Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson, authors of Great Sex Made Simple: Tantric Tips to Deepen Intimacy and Heighten Pleasure, who schooled us in the ways of the tantra — and how all of us can get the most out of our sex lives using tantric techniques.
If you take away nothing else from this story, remember that the 5,000-year-old Eastern spiritual practice of tantric sex does not mean that you have to make love for hours. Instead, enlightenment and having a reverence for your partner that lasts beyond the length of any orgasm is at the core of the teachings, Michaels and Johnson say.
"It's funny that a comment Sting made over 20 years ago still has an enduring hold on the public's imagination," the couple says. "He's tried to explain it away or recant it in various ways. At one point, he said that he regretted making the statement and didn't really feel he could talk about the subject beyond saying that his wife, Trudy, is his church. That's much closer to what the spirit of tantric sex is all about."
"In the classical sexual ritual, the participants worship each other as embodiments of deities. We encourage people to bring an attitude of reverence into their lovemaking and to all their interactions. The tantric approach has far more to do with your mental approach than with technique. It's certainly got nothing to do with bragging about staying power."
Next Up: How you can feel pleasure longer
Originally published January 2013. Updated December 2016.
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