What is Tantra?
Tantra is a 5000-year-old philosophy of functional health and wellness that is also thought to have had a fundamental impact on every major religion. Tantra gave birth to yoga, the chakras, sound healing, pranic healing (healing through breathwork), and more. For more about Tantra please see my essay “My Life in Tantra” below.
Isn’t Tantra all about orgies?
Tantra is no more about orgies than say Allopathic Medicine is (aka Western Medicine). Let me explain. In Western Medicine (Allopathic Medicine), there is a myriad of specialties- cardiology, urology, gynecology etcetera. There is a myriad of specialties in Tantra as well. Just because there are fields in Western Medicine that address sexual health (gynecology, urology, psychology, and even sexology), does that make Western Medicine all about orgies? If you answered yes to that question then yes, Tantra is also all about orgies. If you answered “Of course not! That’s crazy!!! No one would ever define Western Medicine as being all about orgies”, then that is your answer about Tantra as well. To understand this 5000-year-old system of health and wellness, please read my essay “My Life In Tantra” shared below.
What book can I read to learn Tantra?
Tantra is a relational medium- it is the Meditation of the Senses. Just like you can read about chocolate but you can’t actually know chocolate fully without experiencing it (smelling it, tasting it, etc), you can read about Tantra (it’s history, translations of ancient texts, interpretations of the texts, etc), but you can’t learn Tantra outside of a relationship with a teacher.
Just like reading about chocolate can deepen your relationship with chocolate, reading about Tantra can whet your appetite to want to know more or give you a broader perspective if you’ve had a taste. Again, though, there is no book you can read to learn Tantra. Get to know Tantra better by reading my full essay below, “My Life In Tantra. Subscribe to my Youtube channel and enjoy my Primal Confidence Toolkit as well as 12 Days of Confidence. Follow me on social media and, perhaps most importantly, subscribe to my email list so that you can stay abreast of events and courses being offered.
Do you offer Tantric Massage?
No. Tantric Massage is illegal in the United States. You will never find a legitimately-trained Tantra teacher offering Tantric Massage. This is my way of saying that almost exclusively, if you find “Tantric Massage” being offered in the US, it is not, in fact, Tantric at all. There are several wonderful Tantra teachers who will teach Tantric Massage Technique so that you can learn to massage yourself or a partner, but it is always a verbal exercise with no nudity involved, no touching between student and teacher, and sometimes medical illustrations employed while following strict guidelines respecting the bounds of the law.
Tantric Massage technique has been proven in studies done outside of the US to be powerful healing agents for people looking to prevent breast or prostate cancer, or recover from surgery. The destructive distortion of Tantric Massage in the US means that this healing-hands technique is not only misunderstood but unavailable to the vulnerable people who would benefit from it the most. This is nothing short of a travesty.
I want to teach Tantra. How do I certify to be a Tantra Coach?
Read my full essay “My Life In Tantra” below. Subscribe to my Youtube channel Enjoy my “Primal Confidence Toolkit” as well as “12 Days of Confidence” on my Youtube and follow me on social media. Perhaps most importantly, subscribe to my email list so that you can stay abreast of events and courses being offered. And then send me a note and let me know you want to train to be a Tantra Coach.
What I say to people who want to be Tantra Coaches is, you can’t be a guide and be qualified to safely and effectively guide other people up Mount Everest until you have been guided up and down it by someone else successfully yourself. Then, you will need to ascend and descend Mount Everest several times to practice making the journey successfully, still while being guided by other more-experienced and fully-trained guides. Then, if an experienced guide accepts you as a trainee, you have the privilege of training as a guide and then assisting experienced guides. Finally, after lots of experience making the journey in all of these different ways, when you are deemed ready to be a guide yourself, you graduate to that position.
Becoming a Tantra Coach is like that- you have to make the Tantric journey within yourself, being guided by a qualified teacher. Once you are experienced in being guided by a teacher in your own journey, then you can apply to learn to guide others. If accepted into that position of studenthood, you learn, you observe and you assist until you are deemed ready to lead by your teacher. Teaching Tantra is not something you can just add water to and stir up, producing an Insta-Guru because you feel like it.
I will be honest, a lot of people want to go straight to teaching Tantra because they are avoiding the work of facing their own inner parts and weaving themselves together into a new authentic whole. Those people, whether they realize it or not, are electing for Cos Play instead. They want to skip right over the part where they are the client or the student and have to learn or be vulnerable and go right to casting themselves in the role of the expert. They want everyone else to play the role of the one in pieces, rather than being available to do the truly hard work of being vulnerable and receiving the gift of being guided to integrated wholeness by a fully-trained teacher themselves.
If you want the privilege of teaching others Tantra, you must first do the work on yourself, receiving in integrity. Teaching Tantra in ANY WAY without first being certified by a legitimately certified Tantra Mentor disqualifies you from being accepted into every Tantra Teacher Certification program I know. Consent matters. Showing respect for the relational tradition you are seeking to be certified in is key and the absence of it is non-negotiable.
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My Life In Tantra
Tantra… wait, isn’t that??? You are absolutely correct! Tantra is integrity. I’m so glad we were thinking the same thing - big wink and a smile. In Sanskrit, Tantra means literally “to weave and to expand.” The way I explain it is, when you have the courage to go back and gather up all of the bits and pieces of you that you may have lost or become disconnected from along the way, you realize that you are so much greater than the sum of your parts. Tantra is a five thousand year old philosophy of wellness that understood, millenia before science proved it recently, that we are, each and every one of us, “stronger together.” Healing comes from wholeness, from integrity, from integrating our minds with our bodies into one unified presence. Presence is, quite literally, the greatest present you can present yourself with.
It is no surprise that Tantra has illuminated a pathway to healing trauma, increasing resiliency, and inspiring joyful health for more than 5000 years. Tantra is thought to have had a foundational impact on all of Eastern Medicine (acupuncture for instance), Taoism, and honestly, according to several Christian scholars, every major religion. Currently, the Dalai Lama is the most famous Tantric master in the world. Sorry Sting! Tibetan Buddhism is actually half Tantric and half Buddhist. Having been raised Buddhist myself, I can tell you that most of what the West is enchanted with about Tibetan Buddhism is more Tantric than Buddhist.
Over the last 5000 years Tantra has given birth to sound healing, pranic healing (healing through breathwork), yoga and the concept of the chakras which sometimes are called “the original xray” because we now know each chakra corresponds to a gland in our endocrine system. Tantra is sometimes called “the Meditation of the Senses”. Generally speaking, there are four different kinds of Tantra: White, Pink, Black and Red.
White Tantra: Think of the Dalai Lama giving a speech. White Tantra denotes a philosophical exploration of the overall frameworks and concepts of this 5000 year old system of health and wellness that science has proven and illuminated to hold up factually in recent years. White Tantra feeds your mind.
Pink Tantra: Most of the meditations I teach are Pink Tantra. Pink Tantra is centered around the Meditation of the Senses. You can’t just speak about Pink Tantra and you could definitely never read about it because you have to experience it. Pink Tantra feeds your senses, it feeds your body, mindfully.
Black Tantra: Black Tantra is the traditional classification for what I often describe as Tantric Therapy. It is Tantra as somatic-psychotherapy, thousands of years before psychotherapy or somatic therapies existed. It is distinctly similar to Integrative Family Systems Therapy created by a family therapist named Richard Schwartz in Chicago, IL. In the ancient realm, Black Tantra would have been seen as a kind of shamanic healing. Today, Black Tantra, accurately and responsibly facilitated, is a multi-sensory approach to integrating mind and body in order to reclaim true wholeness and purge whatever is, quite literally, tearing someone apart.
Red Tantra: Think Sting. Although I have to warn you, I always tell people that when they learn Tantra, they will want to hop on social media and heckle sting, “15 hour orgasms?! ONLY 15 hours?! What happened to the other 9 hours of the day?!!!”
Here’s the big secret- when you interweave your mind and your body, it automatically expands your pleasure in this world and you realize that what you thought was neutrality before was really numbness. We are, in our wholly integrated self, hard-wired for bliss. Tantric living is blissful living. Hence, I am a blissophile (naturally, just by being my whole self). Once you step into your true nature by claiming your wholeness, you realize how ridiculous the misconceptions of Tantra truly are.
Red Tantra centers around the “Kama Sutra” whose title literally translates to “the Book of Love”. I dare you to go read an English translation of the “Kama Sutra”. It’s 95% relationship advice about how to love and care for one another to reflect sovereign individual wholeness and to prevent things like codependency, narcissism and sadism. It is the original couples counseling book. And at the end, it gets into the choreography of intimacy, yes those famous sex positions because now that the authors have spent hundreds of pages telling you what to do, it’s only fair that they spend a couple of pages showing you too.
Here’s the thing, arguably the most famous sex position in the “Kama Sutra” is Yab Yum which literally translates to “Wisdom (&) Compassion” because the intimate choreography of Yab Yum is meant to be “the dance of wisdom and compassion”. If “The Dance of Wisdom and Compassion” characterized modern sex practices, we would not have a majority of women and a shockingly large number of men reporting being the victim of a sex crime at least once in their life. Am I right? As demonized, fetishized, exoticised and trivialized as the “Book of Love”, the “Kama Sutra” is, it’s hard to imagine anyone soundly protesting the benefits to all of society that would come from framing sexual intimacy as an interplay between wisdom and compassion as opposed to the craven power play we passively or actively too-often allow it to be defined as now .
Tantra is a 5000 year old system of optimal health and wellness so, obviously, there are details beyond my generalized summary here. For instance, ritual is a key part of White, Pink, Black and Red Tantra- so much so that some define Tantra by its ritualism, by its “pujas” (Sanskrit for “ritual act of worship”). There is “the left hand path” and “the right hand path” in Tantra. While Tantra is an ancient philosophy, as with Buddhism, Tantra was infused with Hinduism thousands of years ago and millions do practice it as their religion- pujas are central to Tantra’s role in Hinduism.
Even though I grew up in a Buddhist household in Asia and Africa, I encountered Tantra for the very first time on 9/11/01 (“September 11th”) which was my first day as a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in the Archaeology Wing of the Anthropology Department. My advisor had been digging in a Bronze Age Indus Valley site in Pakistan all summer and the short of the long story is, when I finally found him that day, he handed me a collection of tiles from the Indus Valley site he had been digging at and asked me to process them. “They are the first archaeological evidence of yoga,” he said as he ran off to meet with then US Secretary of State Colin Powell. It wasn’t until I met Psalm Isadora 15 years later that I realized those tiles that I processed for him were actually the first archaeological evidence of asanas (wellness choreography, or poses as we call them in the Western world today). Asanas come from Tantra as does Yoga. Yoga split off from Tantra around 1200 AD. Those tiles were actually the first archaeological evidence of Tantra. How’s that for an eerie coincidence?
Fifteen years after that 9/11 day, I was in the studio producing the first three songs from my musical “Half A World Away”. I was in a studio in NYC, the vocal booth of which overlooked the new World Trade Center. Yet again, when it came to music, it was like I repeatedly pulled a rabbit out of the hat and kept finding myself amidst truly miraculous opportunities. Yet again, my world looked perfect on the outside, just like it did when I was the subject of a multi-million dollar major label bidding war between three major labels after only pursuing professional music actively for 11 months. However, the higher I climbed on the success ladder, the lower I felt. The more I looked like I was living the dream on the outside, the more my life felt like a nightmare.
I was determined to not be chased away from my dreams again and on pure instinct, I started looking for a female Tantra mentor. I wish I could explain the logic or science behind my quest in that moment but the naked truth is, there is none- it was all intuition. In that moment where I felt, yet again, like I was about to shatter into tiny bits in the face of my music dreams coming true, an inner voice began screaming from deep inside of me that Tantra would give me the keys to break free from whatever it was that felt like it was crushing me inside. I found Psalm Isadora, spoke with her the day after I contacted her, and signed up for her coach-training program immediately. I took the second-to-last spot in that program and if you look at her Facebook page from March of 2016, you will see she does a Facebook Live dancing around with excitement because I joined her program (her program which was really more like a revolution than “just” a program- a revolution of the senses).
There were twenty people in that program and I am one of only about ten that actually graduated from it. Of that first group, I am the only one who went on to do Psalm’s second coach-training program, Metamorphosis, in December of 2016. Only about twenty people graduated from Metamorphosis. I know every person who was actually certified to teach Tantra by Psalm Isadora (prior to these Tantra certifications, Psalm certified many in teaching yoga - I am grateful to know a few of these truly wonderful yoga teachers she certified but I definitely do not know all of the yoga teachers she certified). Psalm herself was initiated in Tantra in India by her Guru, Guruji, who asked Psalm to bring Tantra to America and make it relevant to life here. Psalm touched hundreds of thousands of people. Because I am one of the Tantra students closely-identified with her, I am privileged to hear from people all the time whose lives were impactfully-enhanced by Psalm’s programs, whether it was through her MindValley course or her MindBodyGreen course, her Youtube videos, live events or even the courses she created herself and sold on her own website.
If you knew Psalm, you knew that in regards to Tantra, essentially two things mattered to her. Firstly, she always said “Don’t thank me, just do the work.” And she meant it. She wanted all your life force energy to go towards creating your life of intention- to working the tools she gave you because she knew they would work for you if you just used them. She wanted that for everyone and did not wish for people to spend their precious life force energy on words- she wanted you to thank her by taking Tantric action, by creating wholeness and integrity in your life and living your truth unconditionally.
Secondly, little offended Psalm more than people teaching Tantra without integrity- teaching it without permission to do so. Tantra is a relational medium that can only be taught or learned within the bounds of a mutually consensual teacher-student relationship. Psalm did countless fundraisers to travel to India over and over again as a single-mom living on only a yoga teacher’s salary in order to learn from her Guru, her mentor Guruji, and to do the work in integrity always. She spent years studying and never taught it, let alone for profit, until her mentor gave her permission to, after he initiated her into the Tantric lineage that I too have been initiated into (see the fire ceremony photos of Psalm initiating me and the other graduates of her first program). Little offended Psalm more than seeing people take a one-weekend group workshop from her and then go out and start charging folks $550 an hour to learn what they themselves had just experienced as a kind of metaphysical tourist over the weekend. I, myself, have seen this happen too many times. Many of those certified by Psalm to be Tantra Mentors are listed on Psalm’s website still.
The day I met Psalm, I told her, I wanted to infuse Tantric movement with Classical Pilates and cutting-edge exercise science because one of my Classical Pilates mentors, Bob Liekens, had studied some Tantra. I told her the moment I met her that I had a hunch Tantric movement, Tantric asanas, had something that women-especially needed for optimal functional fitness. Instead of feeling threatened by my fire and focus, she ate it up and we talked for hours. Before she died one year later, she was thrilled to celebrate my creation of Tantra Core (now 4 Core) which is just that- Tantra infused with Pilates combined with cutting edge exercise science. She was so thrilled with my “doing the work” that she asked me to teach for her at a high profile NYC institution in addition to my Assistant Teaching for her at some of her events. Through Psalm Isadora’s two programs, I was trained in all of the rainbow colors of Tantra- White, Pink, Black, Red and some that, who knows what color they are lol. While I do not teach Red Tantra and don’t have any plans to, I have colleagues that do. If you are looking to learn Red Tantra, I recommend looking at the coaches on Psalm’s website. I get so many inquiries about Red Tantra, thank you for understanding I am unable to reply to any questions regarding Red Tantra because it is not my focus and I just don’t have the time.
Tantra is a relational medium. You cannot learn it through books or by watching Youtube videos or online courses. You can become acquainted with it via those mediums- you can become informed. Tantra isn’t transactional and it’s not a one night stand- that’s called kinky Cos Play and I’m sure that’s more than 5000 years old, lol. You can be guided in having a Tantric experience through books, online courses, events, or weekend escapades into metaphysical tourism (and those can be and generally are life-changing in the most welcome way and a ton of fun!), but you need to step into a relationship with a teacher to actually learn Tantra. And here’s the thing, in Tantra, you don’t choose the teacher- the teacher chooses you. So you can’t demand to become someone’s student because Tantra is like Harvard- you have to apply and be invited to become a student by your future advisor because they want to work with you. Therefore, beware of off-the-shelf opportunities to “learn” Tantra. Tantra is not productizable and it’s really not intuitively compatible with a Capitalistic world. Tantric experiences are, absolutely, but having a Tantric experience does not qualify you to teach Tantra. That would be like saying anyone who successfully received a heart transplant was qualified to be a heart surgeon.
If someone says they are a Tantra Coach, ask them who they were certified by and take a minute to verify the legitimacy of that certification. You can’t give what you don’t have. No one can teach you wholeness when they are out of integrity, when they are not whole within themselves. If someone is knowingly teaching relational methods without consent of the authority figures of that method, the flame keepers of that ancient tradition, let alone without an ongoing and healthy relationship being mentored by said flame-keepers, the person is out of integrity. What they have to offer is not Tantra. The only thing that happens in such a scenario is the re-enactment of trauma as opposed to the healing of it- even when the person perpetrating such brokenness justifies it because they have an MSW or even PhD, say, in psychology. Tantric knowledge and insight is earned through a relationship, over time, with consistency and respect. Tantra, in integrity, is life-changing and more than worth whatever it takes to study it in integrity. Tantric living is living life in technicolor. Once you step into it, you will never ever want to go back. I would not be here at all, let alone living a dream come true as an independent #1 Top 40 singer-songwriter producer founder and innovator without Psalm Isadora or the thousands of years old Sri Vydia Tantra lineage she and I now share.
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