5 Steps To Better Sex, According To A Tantric Expert

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
Much like the Kama Sutra, tantric sex has become a synonym for "wild sex" with little to no explanation of what that actually means. Sure, many of us are aware that Sting supposedly enjoys 7 hour-long tantric sessions with his wife, and certain sex positions have been called "tantric," but that doesn't even begin to cover what the practice is actually about. So we spoke with healer and tantric shaman Maisha Najuma Aza to set the record straight on tantric sex — and to find out how it can improve anyone's sex lives.
For one thing, tantric practices go way beyond sex. Different forms of tantra can be found in Hinduism and Buddhism, and it's been practiced for thousands of years. Although the exact origins of tantra have been difficult to pin down (because it's been around for so long), it's believed that tantric practices were developed as a means of community building and conflict resolution.
It's since been applied to other types of mystical practices, but that core goal has remained mostly intact. Aza explains that one practices tantra in order to connect with others, with nature, and with oneself. "People don’t have to believe in a higher power to believe in tantra," she says. Those interested may seek these connections through meditation, yoga, or other non-sexual routes.
That said, Aza says sex can be a wonderful way to forge connections and find "embodiment" (total awareness of your body and your feelings). She explains that people often forget how important physical intimacy is to feeling spiritually grounded, but tantra places it on the same level as emotional intimacy. And this is what gets overlooked about tantric sex — that it's more about vulnerability than anything else. Practicing tantric sex means "opening up and accessing the expansive and contractive part of yourself," Aza says.
Ahead, Aza walks us through five steps to having better sex according to true tantric principles. Click through to get cozy.
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Get uncomfortable.

According to Aza, truly satisfying sex requires some amount of intimacy and connection. (For the record, though, she says you don't need to be in an LTR to make that connection happen). Although her recommendations vary from person to person, she often likes to start with an eye contact exercise known as soul gazing, in which a couple sits facing each other and, yes, holds eye contact for what feels like a very long time.

"If you’re feeling uncomfortable, you’re on the right track," Aza says, laughing. "You have to get uncomfortable in order to learn something new... Get naked — and when I say 'get naked,' I mean get naked energetically." Showing your partner that you're willing to be vulnerable and open with them will lay the foundation for playful, uninhibited sex.
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Take it slow.

Once you're ready to add physical contact to your practice, go slow. And we mean slow. "You really can start with just holding hands. It can be that simple," Aza says. Other postures you can try out include putting your hand over your partner's heart or sitting in each other's laps. You can choose to continue to hold eye contact or synchronize your breathing while playing around with touch.

This step is a chance to get to know your partner's body in a new way and to set boundaries with them. Above all, Aza says to keep your play exploratory.
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Stay present.

A huge part of tantric practices is learning how to stay grounded in your body and aware of everything you're feeling — and not forcing yourself to feel something else in that moment. Or, as Aza puts it, "the goal is the pleasure itself. The goal is not the orgasm."

Separating the joy of sex from the feeling of a climax can be tough, but Aza reassures us it's more than possible. "We live in a culture where we’re about productivity and the goal of the climax, so if we don’t get that climax, then it was terrible sex," she says. "But what if it was great sex and you just didn’t climax? Can we still call that great sex? Yes, absolutely!"

Keep this in mind while you're playing with your partner. Aza will sometimes even ask clients to avoid touching each other's genitals. Where would you touch your partner if you weren't trying to rush right into making them come?
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Speak up.

"I don’t care how long you’ve known someone; you can still be curious [about your partner]," Aza says. If you have a question or comment, tantric practice is the perfect time to voice it. "You’re allowed to say 'don’t touch me,' 'yes, touch me,' 'touch me there,' 'let’s try this,'" she says.

As enlightening — and important — as these conversations are, be sure to save them until after you've taken the time to play and connect silently and physically. Connecting with your partner and feeling grounded in your own body will only help inform your feelings about how you want to touch and be touched.
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Let's clarify: Practice without judgment. Aza explains it's easy to get hung up on feelings of inadequacy or discouragement, but those never lead anywhere productive. "We end up [judging ourselves], and then we can’t move onto the next step. We can’t explore more, because we’ve already decided that we suck," she says.

Instead, Aza says to treat tantric sex like any other routine you have, be it brushing your teeth or meditating: "It’s not about doing anything right or wrong. It’s really about exploring and finding out what happens."

And if you ask us, this practice is probably a lot more fun than brushing your teeth.

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