Tantra Retreats – What, Where and When?
Tantra retreats are enjoying a real surge in popularity at the moment as more people get curious about this ancient esoteric tradition from the east.
They see their yoga teachers gush about tantra retreats on social media. Their best friend comes back from a weekend retreat looking relaxed and perhaps a little younger. Even your favourite yoga and wellness magazines are talking about Tantra.
So what is all the fuss about? Is tantra really about energy healing, awakening your chakras, exploring your sexuality, deepening your connection with your partner and opening your heart to the world?
Allow me to guide you through the wonderful world of tantra retreats and put your mind at ease…
What is a Tantra retreat?
Tantra retreats are safe spaces in which you can learn the ancient art of tantra, experience its healing potential, and allow this new knowledge to seep into the rest of your life. They usually take place over several days, usually somewhere between a weekend to a full week, and can be located in a variety of environments from cities through to tropical islands.
What you learn over the course of your tantra retreat will enable you to explore your sexuality with confidence, open your heart, find strength in your vulnerability, ask for what you want in life, enjoy a more satisfying sex life, and strengthen your relationship with your partner. You are also likely to heal past traumas, release energy blockages which have been preventing you from reaching your full potential on one of these retreats, and you might even find true love along the way.
You might also be surprised at how different you feel after your first tantra retreat. Suddenly you start to see the world through different eyes, connect to those around you differently, and discover how to move in alignment with your core values and beliefs.
It’s a lot of fun, it’s very eye-opening and it’s certainly not just about sex, but focuses on spiritual growth too. Below is a video of a typical Tantra Retreat in Thailand:
What do Tantrikas believe?
Tantrikas believe that the universe is comprised of a balance of both masculine and feminine energies. There’s the masculine half called Shiva and the feminine half, called Shakti. Ultimate bliss, creativity and awakening can only happen when Shiva and Shakti come together in a union of sacred sexuality.
The idea of dual energies certainly isn’t unique. It runs through most philosophical and religious practices, from East to West.
By focussing on the energy-awakening practices of sexual connection, we are able to shake off those false ideas that sex equals sin and instead allow ourselves to move beyond the everyday limitations of desire, ideals and attachments to attain true liberation.
What is NeoTantra?
Usually, when we speak about tantra, we’re referring to NeoTantra – a modern westernised version of Tantra which uses sexuality as a vessel for self-exploration.
This spiritual practice promises better, longer-lasting orgasms, a deeper connection with your partner, truly spiritual and emotional healing, relaxation and greater spiritual enlightenment. Unlike classical tantra, it’s not based on the traditional Tantric scriptures and books but a modern combination of philosophical practices and modern texts.
What is Classical Tantra?
Classical Tantra, on the other hand. is an Indian spiritual tradition based on Buddhism and Hinduism which uses Sanskrit scriptures. It reached its peak between 800-1100 BCE and was traditionally passed down from teacher to student.
It reminds us that The Divine surrounds us at every moment, and allows us to reconnect with the energies of the universe and wonder at the miracle of life through yoga, meditation and visualisation practices.
These days, our interpretation of tantra largely depends on the school of tantra, philosophical alignment of student and teacher, and it’s practice.
What is Tantric Massage?
Tantra massage is another element of Tantra. Unlike other forms of massage, tantra massage is spiritual in origin. It uses a bioenergetic approach to bodywork with the aim of healing traumas, awakening the chakras and reviving the individual, along with elements of massage, yoga, and sexual therapy.
The massage allows two people to come together spiritually, emotionally and physically through a unique energy ritual which connects the giver and the receiver.
Usually, candlelight, essential oils and massage techniques (over the entire body and the genitals) are used by a partner or a therapist to allow explosive tantric energy release, eliminate sexual and energy blockages, and increase youthfulness, stamina and vitality.
Between couples, tantric massage awakens a powerful intimate connection which allows sacred sexual energy to bloom and allow both giver and receiver to become fully present in the breath and each other.
It can also be gifted by an individual to allow the recipient to relax, explore and awaken sexual pleasure, or it can be used to help heal from trauma in a practice called tantra therapy.
What to expect on Tantra Retreats?
So if it’s not about sex, what exactly can you expect from one of these retreats?
I’m afraid the answer isn’t exactly straightforward because no two tantra retreats are exactly the same! Where would be the fun in that?
Each retreat offers a unique blend of yoga styles, tantric philosophy, meditation and therapy combined with the teacher or school’s particular approach to Tantra. Excitingly, this means that you’re almost guaranteed to find a tantra retreat which meets your needs and allows you to explore your sexual energy in a way that you feel comfortable with.
You are likely to have plenty of time for sharing in ‘sharing circles’. Some of the retreats may also include tantric massage, sensual massage, energy activation, eye gazing and biodanza or ecstatic dance.
What is a typical schedule on Tantra Retreats like?
Generally speaking, most tantra retreats will touch on the history of tantra (even if only briefly) and include a strong focus on becoming more present in your physical body. This is likely to include a daily morning yoga class to shake off those cobwebs and deepen your physical yoga practice.
Meditation and breath awareness work are also central to every tantra retreat experience as they help unlock the central chakra system of the body and deepen your intimate relationship with your own energy centres.
There are also most commonly practical exercises which help you put into practice what you have just learnt. These will often be done with a partner, so consider how comfortable you feel in working with a stranger if you’re not taking your partner along.
These tantric exercises aren’t usually about sex (but they can be) but instead focus on exploring the notion of sexuality in the western world. It’s more likely that they’ll include making eye contact with a partner (harder than you’d think!), various sensory activities, discussion opportunities to explore your experiences of sexuality and self, sensual partner massage, Kegel exercises and much more.
You can also expect the dynamic of the tantra retreat to vary throughout- you might be working in pairs, groups or individually, depending on the tantric exercise and lesson.
You might even be treated to some Kundalini shaking, ecstatic dance, biodanza and other therapeutic energy work along the way. Plus lots of hugging. Tantra practitioner love hugging!
You can always say ‘No’
Importantly, no one will make you do anything that you don’t want to do.
You will always have freedom of choice over all your actions. If you want to stay fully clothed whilst others in the room are naked, that is perfectly fine. Having said that, it might be a good idea to get comfortable with the idea of others being naked around you if you’re going to a retreat.
It’s also important to mention that everyone is welcome at a tantra retreat. You can be single, married, divorced, widowed, just starting out in your relationship, looking to heal relationship issues or even to take your relationship to a new depth. There are also no limitations when it comes to sexual orientation. All that matters is whether you feel comfortable within the tantra retreat environment.
How to choose the best Tantra Retreat?
Before you book your place on a tantra retreat, it’s a good idea to be 100% sure what you’re getting yourself into.
For that reason, try not to make a snap decision unless your gut is telling you that you need to experience the teachings of one particular tantric retreat experience.
Spend a little time exploring the details of the tantra retreat or couple’s retreat you are interested in and find out information such as:
Where is it located?
What exercises are involved?
Do I need to take a partner?
How much tantra history and theory would I like to learn?
How much tantric practice do I want to experience?
Is there any sexual interaction involved?
Do I need to remove my clothes? If so, am I comfortable with that?
What food is on offer at this tantra retreat?
Is accommodation provided?
Would I prefer a couple’s retreat, a single’s retreat, or somewhere between the two?
Am I looking to heal from past trauma?
Always make sure you listen to your own needs and requirements and choose carefully.
Click here to search for the latest Tantra Retreats on offer.
If a Tantra Retreat sounds too intense, you might find going to a Tantra Festival lighter. Where you can dip in and out of workshops and get more of an understanding of what the different teachers offer. Click here to discover all the tantra festivals worldwide.