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  Yoga  
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Laya, Tantra or Kundalini yoga

A celibate approach to spiritual growth is quite common in many of the world's religious traditions. Many yoga practices suggest that sexual involvement is a detriment to a greater development of self and hence should be avoided if possible. However, tantric yoga suggests that sexuality can be a very powerful force that can be harnessed for increased self-awareness. Thus, tantric yoga is unusual, in that it not only allows sexual feelings and contact, but uses sexual experience as a means to enlightenment.

The Tantrics maintain that there is an enormous energy locked into sexuality, which, if released from the lower end of the spine, can flow up the spinal column to bring divine illumination to the brain. They believe that within the interior of the spine, in a hollow region called the canalis centralis, there is an energy conduit called "sushumna". Along this conduit, from the base of the perineum to the top of the head, flows the most powerful of all psychic energies, Kundalini energy. On the other side of the canal are two additional energy channels, one called "Ida" corresponding to the male, and the other the "Pingala" corresponding to the female. Ida is at the right of the base of the spine and the pingala begins at the left.

These tow psychic currents are said to coil upward around the spine and the sushumna like snakes, crossing the chakras (energy wheel of center of conscious). Kundalini yogi's lifelong task is to evolve through the various chakra qualities and challenges, thereby bringing the focus of the Kundalini energy upward from the base of his spine to the top of his head.

Once the yogi has achieved mastery of self by relaxing body tension, silencing mental chatter, and releasing energy blocks, he is ready to join with a partner whose energies and spirit complement his own in such a way that together they form a "whole". The partners must first achieve a highly developed awareness within their being, a process that might take a lifetime, before ready to engage in tantric embrace. In the tantric lovemaking experience, known as "maithuna", the lovers undergo a variety of meditations and rituals before they actually make physical contact. They maintain the spiritual link or bond throughout the lovemaking process. They visualize the flow of pranic currents between them. In tantric yoga, the lovers do not try to achieve orgasm. In fact, they work hard not to have one. They are attempting to draw the forces of Kundalini energy upward through their body-minds, thus releasing the power of the various chakras. This force transforms the yogi psychologically, changing his personality as the Kundalini rises to each succeeding chakra. The emphasis is not on the sexual release as an end in and of itself, but rather on sex as a channel through which the evolution of self may proceed.

The goal of Tantra is the union of dynamic and static aspects of personality. It is quite different from practices that dwell on renunciation and desirelessness.

Related Topic: Chakra

Next Topic: Integral Yoga (Purna Yoga)

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