The Intriguing Tantric Practices You Should Really Know About


In the 13th century a group of radical yogis, led by a man called Goraksha, saw that meditation was the main spiritual practice being taught in India, though the teaching process seemed to him slightly misguided, if not entirely unsuccessful. Preparatory exercises were being ignored while ethical and moral principles were overemphasized. The radical yogis followed the non-dualistic philosophy of tantra—instead of seeing the physical body as a distraction to spirituality, they believed that the body could be used to accelerate spiritual growth and reach Samadhi, or complete meditative absorption, which the sage Patanjali outlined in the Yoga Sutras as the ultimate goal of the practice. This process, called hatha yoga, is a tantric elaboration of the eight-limbed approach to yoga.

One of the most seminal texts on tantric practices, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, lists physical practices that could be used for spiritual awakening. The first step was asana (physical postures) and shatkarma (purification techniques) followed by pranayama and kumbhaka (breathing techniques with breath retention). Next, techniques called bandhas and mudras (physical locks and gestures) helped to seal in, redirect, and ultimately stop the flow of prana (vital life force or energy).

Stopping the flow of energy is the key here. Hatha yogis believe that when prana stops, so does chitta (consciousness). If our awareness is constantly jumping from one thought to the next, we begin to ide…

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