TikTok’s wellness influencers suck at tantric sex

Beauty

The goal of tantric sex is not to achieve overwhelming orgasm (although that can definitely happen), but to enjoy every single touch, kiss, and feeling that arises in intimate moments. It doesn’t have to be penetrative sex – just a simple moment of caressing, looking into each other’s eyes, parallel masturbation or even kink play and BDSM can be considered tantric sex.

According to Rosara Torrisi, PhD, a licensed clinical social worker and AASECT-certified sex therapist at the Long Island Institute of Sexual Therapy in Syosset, New York, the main pillar of tantric sex is being aware of oneself, one’s connection to one’s sexuality, and one’s partner earth, and “to establish an energy exchange through sex with another person”.

What is a tantric sex position and what does TikTok have to do with it?

Wellness TikTokers currently have a fascination with tantric sex, but the intrigue (and appropriation) of mainstream media existed long before cell phones and the internet, let alone social media. Remember those early days food magazines that were plastered with “101 Sex Positions to Excite Your Man” on the front page and filled with dozens of naughty sex position graphics?

The famous Khajuraho temples in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh boast an array of stunning works of art, including erotic stone sculptures.Getty Images

According to Gray, these positions are technically tantric sex positions derived from the Kama Sutra, which came out around AD 300, a few hundred years before tantra was established. Gray notes that the Kama Sutra “had a major influence on the tantric sexual traditions that developed several centuries later,” and argues that the sex position charts scattered in wellness publications can be helpful to tantric sex newcomers.

With that in mind, Yarian says to take them with a grain of salt, as these guides represent only “maybe five percent” of the Kama Sutra’s focus. “Sex positions don’t really have anything to do with tantra, it’s more about poise, openness, embracing the inner erotic energies, however they may be expressed,” says Yarian. “Equating tantra with sex positions is like equating democracy with voting machines. Useful, maybe to express the meaning of the concept, but not equivalent to the concept.”

What is TikTok doing wrong with Tantra?

Many of the “tantra” videos your algorithm throws at you are actually part of a watered-down derivation of traditional tantra: neotantra, also known as modern or western tantra. According to Cyndi Darnell, a New York City-based board-certified clinical sexologist, sex and relationships consultant, and author of Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It: The Truth About Libido Mismatches and Rediscovering Desire, Neotantra is more of a constricted, raisin-picked derivative of traditional tantra that focuses on sexuality. “[It’s] basically mindfulness with your pants off,” she says.

The famous Khajuraho temples in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh boast an array of stunning works of art, including erotic stone sculptures.Getty Images

This form of tantra is usually what you find on social media or if you decide to go to a tantric sex workshop, two options that usually brush the surface of chakras, breathing techniques, sexual yoga positions and an introduction into the spiritual approach of sexuality. “But what it is absolutely not is a relative of its descendant, which is the original form of tantra,” she says. “We need to understand that what we learn in a neotantra workshop is not necessarily a direct descendant of these ancient Eastern practices.”

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